Summer School

Intensive course for experienced beekeepers

Unique beekeeper training

The Summer School is a unique experience - an intensive course aimed at beekeepers with 3-5 years of experience. It has been created to help develop skills and confidence at that crucial point where beekeepers generally outgrow the beginner-focussed training and support available locally, but find there is little structured training aimed at them. They may wish to improve their own confidence and competence in the apiary, or may be preparing for the higher practical beekeeping assessments, such as the General Husbandry and Advanced Husbandry certificates.

There is rarely only one right answer in beekeeping, so we'll look beyond the "always do this..." approach that suits beginners but not the more experienced beekeeper. We want to move you on from such reactive or formulaic beekeeping and improve your ability to recognise and understand what is really happening in a colony (or apiary) and plan for useful tasks and manipulations to keep the bees happy and healthy whilst achieving your management goals.

Each day has a varied mix of discussions, lectures, and apiary work. Our basic approach is simple: we will discuss a topic first, then move out to the bees to practice. With ten students and two tutors, combined with the immersive effect of a week-long intensive course, real learning can take place. The beekeeping talk generally starts over breakfast, and continues well into the evening.

Topics covered include:

Handling skills - adding finesse to how you open, inspect, and close colonies. Everything from how to hold frames to what to do with your tools and smoker so you can be calm and coordinated;

Queen raising - simple non-grafting methods for raising and introducing queens, and thereby improving the quality of your stocks;

Swarm control - lose the panic and take it in your stride, with more understanding of why colonies swarm and straightforward methods for dealing constructively with swarming colonies;

Nucleus making - the 'swiss army knife' of beekeeping, nucleus colonies have a wide range of management uses. Learn to make various types of nucs for different situations, and the uses they can be put to.

Diseases and varroa - keeping colonies healthy through awareness of disease signs, and practice of treatments and manipulations in response to common health problems.

The Summer School is not suitable for novice beekeepers or those with fewer than three seasons of experience, rather it makes an excellent preparation for those who are considering the BBKA General Husbandry assessment, covering many of the more challenging practical aspects.


Ken and Dan Basterfield both hold the National Diploma in Beekeeping (NDB), and are commercial beekeepers with many years of beekeeping experience. They are also well-known beekeeping lecturers who give talks on beekeeping at all levels across the UK.

For 25 years, Ken Basterfield managed, developed, and tutored on the NDB's own week-long residential beekeeping course aimed at potential NDB candidates. Dan Basterfield has been a regular tutor on this course since gaining his NDB in 2011.

It is this experience of intensive beekeeping teaching at the highest level that led Ken and Dan to develop their own Summer School aimed instead at beekeepers with 3-5 years of experience.


The course takes place at our Honey Farm in Devon, purpose built just ten years ago. With all teaching and apiary facilities on-site, many diverse beekeeping topics can be discussed, practised, and re-visited to ensure that students make real progress during the course.

During the course, we will work through to 7pm (with meal breaks!) on some days. We will take tea breaks and meals in the bright and spacious tea room on-site.

We have a modern caravan site at the Honey Farm, with hardstanding pitches supplied with electricity available at £25 per night. Please enquire about this if it is of interest as pitches will need to be reserved.


Click on the flyer below to download.

Course costs

The 2023 course fee was £635 per person, including meals and refreshments.

The 2024 course dates will be announced shortly


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