Short Courses

A range of weekend courses for experienced beekeepers

COVID-19 and course bookings

We are advertising and taking bookings with the expectation that courses later in the year will happen. If a course has to be cancelled at any point due to government restrictions relating to COVID-19 we will of course refund your course booking fees in full, although we regret we cannot be liable for additional costs such as travel or accommodation outside of the course offering.

Weekend courses to advance specific skills and study

The Short Courses provide valuable discussion, learning, and hands-on experience for those who want to improve their beekeeping, or who are planning to take the BBKA, SBA, WBKA, and FIBKA Assessments beyond the basic level. Each course runs over a weekend, and covers a specific area of beekeeping practice, skills, or knowledge. Courses are limited to 10-12 attendees, with two expert tutors on hand.

The Short Courses are aimed at those beekeepers with 3 years of experience; they are not aimed at novices. We can provide guidance to applicants as to the appropriateness of our Short Courses to their stage of beekeeping.

£135 per course place, which includes tuition, materials, refreshments, and a decent lunch!

2022 courses

Following student feedback, we have amended many course dates to be Friday & Saturday, rather than the traditional weekends, helping to avoid travel congestion into & out of the Westcountry over spring and summer weekend periods.

Honey Bee Health and Disease Diagnosis

This course aims to improve the confidence and competence of the diagnosis and treatment of common bee diseases by beekeepers with 3-5 years or more of practical beekeeping experience. The course will be a mix of classroom lecture and discussion, and apiary activities to practice diagnostic and treatment processes.

In the classroom we will cover the signs, cause, and treatment of the following ailments:

  • Chalkbrood, Sacbrood, and Chilled brood
  • European and American Foul Brood
  • Nosema and Acarine
  • Varroa and viruses
  • Poisoning

Whilst in the apiary we will perform the following tasks:

  • Collection of an adult disease sample of 30 bees
  • Examination of combs for brood diseases
  • Use of an LFD to confirm brood ailments
  • Bailey Comb change
  • Shook Swarm

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 preparing for the BBKA Honey Bee Health or General Husbandry assessments.

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.

Anatomy & Dissection

Studying honeybee anatomy helps beekeepers understand how bees have are able to carry out the many and varied tasks they perform. Honeybees have been evolving for 100 million years and have become superbly adapted to survive and prosper in their environment. The aim of this course is to study, explore and gain an understanding of honeybee anatomy and to learn the techniques required to carry out successful dissection.

Topics covered will include:

  • Setting up and using stereo (dissecting) and compound microscopes
  • Dissection tools & techniques
  • Wax embedding and slide mounting
  • Respiratory, digestive, circulatory, and nervous systems
  • The sting, flight muscles, and the glands of the head

This course will be of interest to anyone studying towards the BBKA Microscopy certificate, and to support further practical study by students preparing for BBKA Module 3 (Honeybee Pests, Diseases & Poisoning) or Module 5 (Honeybee Biology).

Swarm Control

We will explore why honeybees swarm, and how beekeepers can detect, manage and control this swarming. We will compare and practice all of the main swarm control methods - Pagden, Demaree, vertical split, shook swarm, nuc making, etc. We aim to give students a deeper understanding of the honeybee behaviour behind swarming, and a good awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of each of the commonly encountered swarm control and prevention methods.

The course is classroom-based and does not use live colonies - however this allows us to step through various methods, pausing, repeating, or undoing specific manipulations without concerns of distress to colonies, concentrating on the principles and method in question.

This course will support those studying towards BBKA Modules 1 & 5, and General and Advanced Husbandry (or Welsh and Scottish equivalents).


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