On-line talks and lectures with an emphasis on thinking and doing

Practical lecture programme

Ken and Dan Basterfield regularly give popular lectures on practical and thought-provoking beekeeping topics. They lecture across the UK and Ireland, from local association meetings to national and international conferences.

Sparked by the lockdown of 2020 and the ensuing cancellation of pretty much any form of beekeeping meeting, conference, or convention, we are offering a series of on-line evening lectures throughout the beekeeping season. Topics are chosen to fit with the work in the apiary, aiming to be timely and to inspire all those 'thinking beekeepers' out there.

Click the blue buttons below to book a place for just £3.50 a lecture. We can also arrange for specific lectures to be scheduled for your association - contact us to discuss arrangements.

Replays and catch-up facility

Each webinar - and the question and answer session at the end - is recorded. Once you have registered for a webinar you can watch it live and submit questions, but also watch the replay at a later date. Indeed you can even register after the original live webinar dates and use the replays to catch-up with earlier webinars.

Detailed instructions for accessing webinars

Some people have had problems joining the webinars. We have created a set of detailed instructions that should take you smoothly through the process of booking a webinar, registering for a free account, and then accessing booked webinars.

Test webinar

We have a free test webinar that allows you to check that you can access our webinars before trying to join a live webinar or watch a replay. The test session also allows you to verify that your sound is working and gives some tips on how the sessions run, how to ask questions, etc.

Our webinars work best in the Chrome browser - we recommend that you use this when connecting to either the live sessions or the replays.

2021 webinar series

Module Exam Techniques

Dan Basterfield, NDB

Dan Basterfield progressed through the complete BBKA Module system, earning a Distinction at each examination, and achieved both the BBKA Master Beekeeper and National Diploma in Beekeeping qualifications in the same year. As a teacher and lecturer, one of his popular discussion themes is how to approach the examinations undaunted.

Here Dan outlines useful resources and approaches when studying towards these examinations, and then works through the exam format discussing in detail how to approach each aspect in a calm, structured, and confident manner in order to give best account of your studies.

Covers both the traditional paper-based exams and the new online exam system (based upon the 2021 preview).

Free webinar - no booking fee

Beekeeping Study Groups

Dan Basterfield, NDB

Studying towards the various beekeeping examinations is greatly enlivened by working with others in a study group. Once established, these study groups can meet year after year, working towards a different Module or Assessment each time.

This webinar is aimed at those who wish to set up self-help study groups for those preparing for the BBKA Module Examinations and Husbandry Assessments (or Welsh and Scottish equivalents). We will explore how to establish and run effective study groups, and will consider resources that are available, various study approaches, the level of knowledge that is required, and how/where to get assistance and advice. We will also look at how to attract and include attendees who wish to learn within a group but who may not wish to attempt the assessments yet. Importantly, the study group leader does not need to be a subject matter expert.

Free webinar - no booking fee

Processing Run Honey

Ken Basterfield, NDB

There is nothing intrinsically difficult about producing high-quality run honey in jars - honey that should bring you repeat customers - and yet one still sees an abundance of poorly presented honey in shops. All that needs to be understood and controlled are the straightforward processes of liquefying, straining, settling, and conditioning.

Ken Basterfield has been bottling and selling his honey since the 1970's and draws upon this experience to give a clear and logical description of each part of the process of producing high-quality run honey for sale.

Processing Set Honey

Ken Basterfield, NDB

Many beekeepers are confused by the terms 'soft set honey' and 'seeded honey', thinking they are the same or misunderstanding what the two processes entail. Soft set honey is a variant of hard set honey that has had its crystalline structure broken up to form a spreadable paste; seeded honey is usually a coarse-setting honey that has had its texture changed by adding an amount of fine-setting honey.

Ken Basterfield has been bottling and selling his honey since the 1970's and draws upon this experience to give a clear and logical description of each part of the processes of producing high-quality set and soft set honey for sale.

Managing Apideas

Dan Basterfield, NDB

Apideas (and similar polystyrene mini mating nucs) provide a small and effective means of mating queens, far less demanding of resources than traditional 3- or 5-frame mating nuclei.

Having used Apideas since the early 1980's, we will review how to establish, manage, maintain, and close down these small seasonal colonies.

Includes some general tips on queen raising.

Please note the change of date from that originally advertised.

Making and Using Nucs

Dan Basterfield, NDB

In colony management, the nucleus is truly the 'Swiss Army knife', useful in so many situations. Wedmore wrote in the 1930's "Almost every emergency of management can be met forthwith by putting something into or taking something out of a nucleus, while nuclei themselves seldom present emergencies."

We will look at how to make up nucs for various purposes, and the uses that nucs commonly have - such as making increase, queen mating and introduction, swarm control, bees for sale, and so on.

Handling Skills

Ken Basterfield, NDB

Poor handling of honey bee colonies results in a beekeeper muddling through despite grumpy bees; in a different set of hands those colonies could be a pleasure to work with. Practical beekeeping skills are learnt mostly from others, yet a lot of what is taught is clumsy or ill-considered, however well-intentioned.

Using pictures and videos we will discuss and demonstrate some of the underlying skills for handling honey bee colonies. Our approach has been honed through many years of managing large numbers of colonies, and we aim to be sympathetic, efficient, and instinctive in our ways. From simple principles of how to move, hold, shake, and replace frames, to effective use of smoker and tools, we will extend into more complex inspections and manipulations, and discuss safe techniques for holding, marking, and caging queens without using gadgets.

Microscopy for Beekeepers

Dan Basterfield, NDB

The microscope can bring fascinating insights into beekeeping in three key areas: disease confirmation, pollen identification in honey, and study of honey bee anatomy. With good quality microscopes now available for a few hundred pounds, many beekeepers are investing some of their 'honey money' in one.

Having taught microscopy to beekeepers at all levels for over ten years, and as a BBKA Microscopy certificate examiner, Dan Basterfield will give an overview of the uses of the microscope for the beekeeper, what you need to get started, and useful references and information to help you achieve a basic level of competence and avoid some of the frustrations you might encounter.

Double Brood - show and tell

Ken Basterfield, NDB

Following on from our popular Double Brood Chamber Working webinar in the 2020 series, and the many questions and discussions which that prompted, this session will expand on the management themes with additional photos and discussion of both the transition from single brood to double brood, and the management of double brood colonies.

Out Apiaries

Ken Basterfield, NDB

For many beekeepers, a major milestone in their beekeeping journey is the establishment of a second 'out apiary' away from home. For others, circumstances dictate that they must start their beekeeping with hives on a remote site. Some out apiaries are permanent, others can be temporary, yet all bring a mixture of benefits and challenges.

Ken Basterfield has had numerous out apiaries over the past fifty years, in all sorts of locations. From this experience he will share his tips on how to find, establish, and manage an out apiary of your own.

2020 webinar series

Vertical Split Swarm Control

Ken Basterfield, NDB

The 'Pagden' type of artificial swarm is well known and commonly used. In practice it requires a complete spare hive at precisely the time when equipment is most in demand. A vertical artificial swarm requires only an extra brood box and a modified crown board as a split board, and was a technique we learnt from Australian commercial beekeepers. This lecture also includes aspects of managing double brood box beehives - by having the extra brood box already in place in all colonies, swarm control is a quick and easy part of routine inspections.

Queen Raising Overview

Dan Basterfield, NDB

Queen raising is a straightforward and rewarding part of beekeeping, yet many beekeepers fear it is too complicated. It can be undertaken on any scale, with varying levels of complexity, but the basics are well know and it can be started with minimal equipment. We will explore the how? and why? of queen raising, compare the various approaches and equipment used, and consider what is realistic and achievable for a hobbyist beekeeper or beekeeping association.

The Importance of Drones

Dan Basterfield, NDB

Given the chance, colonies will enthusiastically raise large numbers of drones. But beekeepers tend to think of drones as a burden on a colony, and cut out or discourage drone comb. Worse, we often overlook that for good queen raising, we need good drone raising too. This talk explores simple methods of encouraging colonies to raise the numbers of drones that they desire, how to align this with breeding and stock selection, and of course the problem of drone brood being ‘varroa incubators’.

Reading Bees

Ken Basterfield, NDB

'Reading bees’ refers to the ability to look at a previously unknown colony of bees, to understand what has happened before, what is happening now, and to suggest appropriate ‘next steps’ by balancing the (sometimes conflicting!) priorities of the bees and the beekeeper. Reading bees is often wrongly treated as a black art, when in reality we start reading bees from our earliest encounters with them. This lecture uses practical examples to discuss how this reading can be expanded and refined through better observation, improving our knowledge of bees, and by always asking the question “what would the bees do next?

Queenright and Broodright?

Dan Basterfield, NDB

Colony cohesion comes from having a queen and brood. In the absence of either, things can begin to break down, perhaps ultimately ending up with a doomed colony with laying workers. This lecture explains the contribution that either queen or brood pheromones make to colony well-being, how to spot early when problems are developing, and how to help problematically queenless or broodless colonies recover in good time. This lecture is aimed at the more novice beekeepers and is grounded in observation and practice.

Preparations for a Better Season?

Dan Basterfield, NDB

Beekeepers are natural optimists – starting each season with the hope that this year will be that perfect season where everything comes right. The cyclical seasonal nature of beekeeping makes it possible to broadly predict what equipment and interventions may be needed and when, but how many of us still play catch up with the bees? We start with the season winding down in August, review various key tasks and preparations as one season ends and the next begins, and look at some of the key skills that underpin confident and successful beekeeping.

Double Brood Chamber Working

Ken Basterfield, NDB

Since the 1980’s, I have been running colonies on double brood chambers, having realised early in my beekeeping career that the traditional single deep box offers too little brood space for colonies. Whilst this is common practice in much of the world, in the UK it is viewed with suspicion. Few realise how compressed colonies are in a single National brood box, resulting in excessive swarming. Instead, add more brood space and work with the bees rather than against them. I will discuss general management, swarm control, wintering, and the transition to double brood from a single brood or brood and a half.

Bees for Honey and Money

Dan Basterfield, NDB

This lecture conveys my experiences and the observations of other small scale commercial beekeepers looking to make a living from 50-250 colonies. Beekeeping on a larger scale is all about managing bottlenecks, and prioritising time input against reward. At the end of the day, it’s got to keep a roof over your head without working you into the ground. There is no silver bullet – no ‘Commercial Beekeeping Approach’ that is imparted in hushed tones to the chosen few. Unlike the indulgences of hobby beekeeping, it must be undertaken with an eye to efficiency and the bottom line, but that does not mean it has to be cynical or unsympathetic.

Tools and Tricks...

Ken Basterfield, NDB

... to make beekeeping easier!

My background in engineering and science, along with practical woodworking and metalworking skills, has allowed me to develop and refine many techniques and pieces of equipment to make life simpler for the beekeeper. In a series of show & tell snapshots I will cover many of these ideas - whether for migration, lifting and shifting, simple selective queen raising, warming honey, feeding, foundation making, mead and honey vinegar, and more. Come and enjoy, it is quite a journey through 50 years of my beekeeping!

Wax Processing

Ken Basterfield, NDB

Beeswax is a valuable product to the beekeeper, and when one looks at the effort involved for the bees in secreting this wonderful substance it is truly amazing that we beekeepers benefit in quantity from so many tiny wax scales secreted by so many busy bees. Beeswax processing is something not generally dealt with well in most texts, and I will look at methods suited to small scale beekeeping. Beginning with raw wax recovery from cappings and old combs, through cleaning and refining processes, and on to value added applications like cosmetics, wax polishes, candles and foundation making. I am a practical beekeeper by nature and devise my own tools and methods of working in all aspects of beekeeping, none more so that with beeswax. Come along and I will “show and tell”.


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