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  • Bee keeping course

    I'm just about to sign up to an "Introduction to bee keeping" course. Has anyone else done one of these? Are they any worth it

    The reason I ask is that the course is 120 which, given the early stage of what we're doing is a lot of money.

    Thoughts? Comments?
    Proud renter of 4.6 acres of field in Norfolk. Living the dream.

    Please check out our story in the March 2014 issue of GYO magazine.

    Follow us on Twitter @FourAcreFarming

  • #2
    I got bees in July and went on the course the following Spring. I don't think I learnt anything at all but it was interesting. It is a lot of money - do they give you any idea of the course syllabus?

    We got a certificate from ours but it is basically a certificate for turning up and not worth anything.

    We didn't get to handle bees either.

    You would learn more spending an afternoon with a bee keeping and getting some hands on experience. Read a book to learn the basics.

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    • #3
      Our local Association gives newcomers beekeeping courses. A basic grounding in bees and how they work, breed etc.. and then a practical training handling bees.

      If you don't get the practical training - and given it is winter, it appears unlikely you will - then in my view you have only learned half what you need - and that is the least important half.

      Learning by handling bees is in my view essential:

      you learn if:
      you can handle stings
      you learn all the best ways to do things
      you gain in confidence.
      and you meet people who are often prepared to help out when things go wrong - as they do..
      Last edited by Madasafish; 14-01-2014, 01:18 PM.

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      • #4
        There's nothing "hands on" at all. There is a practical course starting in May where you have to bring your own veils and gloves so I'm thinking there'll be some be handling in that one.

        Of course, the website says the course is designed to be done with the classroom based one. Why they couldn't just put it all in one course then is beyond me.
        Proud renter of 4.6 acres of field in Norfolk. Living the dream.

        Please check out our story in the March 2014 issue of GYO magazine.

        Follow us on Twitter @FourAcreFarming

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        • #5
          Not only would I recommend one (if it's organised by the British Beekeepers Association BBKA) but I would say it is just about essential to anybody who intends to keep bees. I did a course around 30 years ago and have kept bees on and off ever since. I followed the beginners' course with an intermediate course and read dozens of books. As a result you get a detailed knowledge of your hobby and can understand what is going on with your bees, how to control swarming, and how to recognise various diseases. Go ahead. The price is not that expensive for what you should get. Practical and theoretical IS different because learning how to handle the bees is not the same as understanding their behaviour, anatomy, diseases, and so on. Do both courses if you can.

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          • #6
            Without any 'hands on' experience I would imagine an internet search would provide enough 'instruction'

            When I did a course, the instructor told the story (true or not, who cares) of one student who was dead keen to keep bees. She even bought a bee suit before the course started.

            The first time the hive was opened, she was off .... running as fast as she could and probably hasn't stopped running yet.

            Holding a frame covered in bees, with some crawling over your hand with others buzzing around your head isn't something everybody feels confident about doing. The moral, before investing in a lot of equipment etc, try handling the bees.

            On the course I attended, there was a 5 extra fee to hire a suit for the 6 week course, a real bargain if you ask me.

            One lady had already bought a suit with veil, but the type which can flatten against your face. It cost her about 80. She later bought a new one, with the hat built in, this keeps the mesh away from the face.

            Visit British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) and try and contact a local club. Most will offer courses / one day events.

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            • #7
              I'd agree the 'hands on' practical course is best to start with. I remember a friend on my course who had bought all his bees, got everything set up, and then discovered just at the end of the course that he was severely allergic to bee stings and shouldn't have them anywhere near him!

              But I would also say the theory courses are also vital, and reading a 'good book' or searching the Internet is no equivalent. In my experience there is a great deal of rubbish talked about bees on the Internet and people with particular fads about their hobby can mislead people into doing the wrong thing and making expensive mistakes. On a course not alone do you get the chance to quiz the tutor about things but you also discuss the whole thing with your fellow students and the 'competitive' side of doing the basic exam gives you an incentive to learn the details (and remember them).

              The knowledge I got on my course thirty years ago has stayed with me and I've managed to build on it substantially over the years. As for the price, obviously it sounds expensive, but it is a very small part of what your beekeeping will cost you given the price of hives, wax foundation, extractors and so on. With insufficient knowledge your investment in equipment and bees will be wasted.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by wbmkk View Post
                Holding a frame covered in bees, with some crawling over your hand with others buzzing around your head isn't something everybody feels confident about doing. The moral, before investing in a lot of equipment etc, try handling the bees.


                I only went to the out apiary meeting because my neighbour was getting bees, but the second I held that frame of bees I knew I was going to have my own!

                The course we went on there was no holding of frames of bees.

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                • #9
                  I went on one last year- it was 60, for 3 days spread over 3 weeks.

                  I really enjoyed it, and learned a lot (despite reading a lot of book beforehand), and though we didn't do any bee handling on the course (it was in January, so it wouldn't really have been an option), it was run by the local beekeeping group, who then had handling sessions through the summer. The first one was free for those who'd been on the course, then it was just join the group- which cost something under 20 - for the rest of that year, which was great value. I must admit, only two or three of us out of the room of nearly 30 actually showed up to more than the taster session, though everyone seemed to enjoy it, and almost everyone seemed keen during the classes.

                  Even though there were no bees, having a look at the kit was very useful, .

                  I went to quite a few of the sessions, handed frames, but still haven't been stung. I want to find out if I'm allergic before I get a hive, but they just won't cooperate!
                  My spiffy new lottie blog

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                  • #10
                    "I want to find out if I'm allergic before I get a hive, but they just won't cooperate!"

                    Come and stand near our hives of French black bees crossed with Carniolans! It won't take more than a minute or two for you to be stung, even if you did nothing to them! They make spring gardening for us very problematic and I need to go back to a race of better tempered bees.

                    Actually, the serious point is to take some time where you get your first bees from and try to make sure you have a well tempered strain. The thing most likely to put people off beekeeping is having bad tempered bees! Of course, the original strain doesn't last for long, but never keep the queens of hives which are vicious, and let them raise a new one.

                    Of course, as you might expect, the worst bees often gather the most honey!

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