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Introductory Course in Beekeeping

Basingstoke 2002

The Course Purpose

To give to people considering beekeeping as a hobby or vocation, a comprehensive introduction to beekeeping methods, the needs of bees and the needs & responsibilities of the beekeeper.

The Course Structure

The theory course is divided into 10 evening sessions, each lasting two hours in the Association's own Study Centre in the Walled Garden on Down Grange in Basingstoke. The topics to be covered in each session are listed in the table below.

After the theory course are two practical courses, one at the Association's apiary in Oakley and one in the apiary of Chris Mounty, our Chairman.

After that we suggest that you work for a while alongside an experienced beekeeper while you further build your confidence and we plan to recommend to you a suitable beekeeper.

At the end of the courses you should have sufficient skill to handle bees safely and responsibly. There is no examination as part of the course, however by the end you will have covered enough of the subject that with a little practical experience you would be able to take the British Beekeepers' Association ``Basic'' examination.

There is no obligation to join a beekeeping Association, but there are a number of benefits from so doing.

Please note that apiary meetings are always dependent on the weather and that the dates for practicals may change if the weather is unsuitable.

The Programme

Week 1 Tuesday January 22
Introduction What is a honeybee (c.f. wasps etc)
Importance of beekeeping
Local & National support
Week 2 Tuesday January 29
The Colony The queen, workers and drones
Division of labour within the hive
Individual lifecycles
Week 3 Tuesday February 3
The Hive The bees' nest
Hive components
Week 4 Tuesday February 12
History Origins and species
Honey hunting, skeps, Langstroth
Modern Hives
Week 5 Tuesday February 19
Beekeeping year Spring management, inspections
Summer build up, harvesting
Preparation for winter.
Week 6 Tuesday February 26
Swarms etc Reasons for swarms
Swarm control
Swarm collection
Week 7 Tuesday March 5
Queens Queen rearing
Mating process
Marking and clipping
Week 8 Tuesday March 12
Pests & Diseases Brood disease
Adult diseases
Mice etc.
Statutory requirements
Week 9 Tuesday March 19
Bees, Plants and hive products Pollination, nectar and honey
Local forage crops
Wax, propolis and pollen
Selling honey
Week 10 Tuesday March 26
Getting Started Beekeeping Associations
Sources of equipment
Setting up an apiary
Getting your bees
Week 11 Easter Break
Week 12 Sunday April 7
Apiary Meeting Spring Inspection (practical)
Week ? Date TBD
Apiary Meeting Handling Bees (practical)

More About Beekeeping

Beekeeping contribute many millions of pounds to the UK economy and many thousands of millions worldwide. But this contribution is mostly due to the honeybee's pollination of crops rather than to honey or other hive produce.

For the first time ever, due to a rather nasty parasite of the bees, honeybees need us to to help them survive. Without our help they will almost certainly die and that could be very serious indeed for the world's food supplies.

oneybees, honey and other products of the hive have some remarkable medical properties. Honey is a powerful antibiotic and is increasingly being used to treat ``otherwise untreatable'' infections like MRSA; Honeybee venom often gives significant relief to Multiple Sclerosis sufferers and some arthritis sufferers. Many hatfever sufferers find that eating locally produced honey helps significantly to reduce their symptoms.

Honeybees don't die or hibernate in the winter, they stay active within the hive and will come out to fly on many sunny days thoughout the winter. As a colony, they can survive outside temperatures down to an incredible -40 degrees.

Honeybees have been hunted or managed by man for thousands of years. There are a number of early cave paintings of honey hunting and ancient Egyption pictures of bees kept in clay or papyrus hives.

The queen bee fertilises each egg that is to be a female bee, just before she lays it. But she never fertilise eggs that will be male bees. That means that male bees don't have a father, although they do have a grandfather.


Association Secretary

David Purchase

8, Anton Close,


RG23 7AG