Courses archive

A range of weekend courses for experienced beekeepers

Queen Raising

By selectively breeding queens from our best stocks, we can improve the health and resilience of our honey bees, their suitability and adaptation to local climate and forage, and other desirable characteristics. As beekeepers we need to have an understanding of the potential for stock improvement, and the skills with which to achieve this so that our bees can become healthy, productive, and pleasurable to work with.

During this two day course, we will develop an understanding of the processes of stock selection and queen raising, utilising a mix of classroom and apiary tuition and exercises. Students will participate in all the key practical elements of a queen raising programme.

Topics covered will include:

  • How simple selection can improve honey bee colony viability
  • Information and records required to assist selection of breeding stock
  • The different systems of queen raising
  • Grafting young worker larvae into queen cells
  • Preparing and maintaining a queen raising colony
  • Preparing, stocking, and maintaining Apidea style mating nucs
  • Clipping, marking and caging mated queens for sale or introduction

This course will also be of great interest to anyone considering studying the BBKA Module 7  (Selection and Breeding of Honeybees) examination.

Handling Skills

This course aims to improve the confidence and competence of colony manipulation by beekeepers with 2-3 years or more of practical beekeeping experience. This is not recipe beekeeping – we will not be teaching specific manipulations – but we will practice a number of underlying skills such as:

  • Queen finding, handling, and introduction
  • Working efficiently with large colonies
  • Dealing with difficult colonies
  • Making nucleus colonies
  • Colony destruction

Hands-on activities are key to the course, as is discussion of planning, options, and contingencies.

We assume that students are already familiar with the principles and basic-level practice of annual colony management techniques such as routine inspections, artificial swarms, and uniting of colonies.

This course will be of great interest to anyone considering the BBKA General Husbandry or Advanced Husbandry assessments.

Honey Bee Behaviour

We will explore honeybee behaviour in areas such as seasonal population variation, communication mechanisms, foraging behaviour and organisation, workload distribution, reproduction, and swarming. In each of these we will discuss what is understood of honeybee behaviour, and the factors that influence this behaviour, in order to answer questions such as “Why do bees do this?” or “What would bees do next?”. Through understanding the natural behaviour of honeybees, we can better prepare ourselves as beekeepers to predict or respond to their needs.

This course can be a good refresher for those who are preparing to sit the BBKA Module 6 exam.