Your first steps towards beekeeping...

For further information, and to request a membership application form, please contact membership@stalbansbees.org

Training, Courses and Schemes

If you are interested in taking up beekeeping you can find out more by attending our beekeeping courses. We usually run two courses throughout the year  — our Bee Awareness Session takes place in the autumn and the Beginners Course every spring.

Take a look below to find out more about these courses. There is no requirement to join St Albans & District Beekeepers Association in order to attend these courses.

Startup costs for beekeeping begin at around a few hundred pounds but can very easily be much more. Plenty of merchants offer starter kits which include a hive and some basic equipment and clothing (but remember, cheaper is not always better). Before committing to such expense it is advised that you observe other beekeepers for a year, maybe more. Do your research first or ask an experienced beekeeper’s advice. 

You may also choose to enrol on our Hives for All scheme which allows the newbie to experience and learn the craft of beekeeping without large initial outlay.

Important:  Please do not turn up to our apiaries without first making an appointment. For safety and insurance reasons we only allow non-members on site with prior consent.

We provide displays and exhibitions about beekeeping at a number of events through the year where you are very welcome to talk to us.  Please visit our events page for more details.

 
 

Bee Awareness Session

Our Bee Awareness Session gives a brief overview of honey bees and beekeeping. It is a taster of what is involved in becoming a beekeeper and a primer for the more comprehensive Beginners Course the following Spring.

There is no charge for this session and attendance is not required in order to attend the Beginners Course.

The 2023 Bee Awareness Session was held on Thursday 19th October. Check back later in 2024 for more details on this year’s session.

Please email training@stalbansbees.org to register your interest for next year’s session.

Beginners Course

The Beginners Course will be held on the following four evenings:


1st February 2024

8th February 2024
15th February 2024
29th February 2024


Each evening will start at 19:30.
 (Please note there will be no training session on February 22nd).

Spread over four sessions, each lasting approximately 2 to 2.5 hours, the course provides an introduction to various aspects of beekeeping and is designed for those who are looking to start keeping bees in the near future. It also gives an insight into the fascinating world of the honey bee for anyone wanting to expand their knowledge.


There will be many opportunities to ask questions and meet other beekeepers, both novice and experienced. A practical apiary session will be arranged for April (some flexibility may be required in the event of inclement weather)
.

The course will include a copy of BBKA Guide To Beekeeping written by Ivor Davis and Roger Cullum-Kenyon.

Registration for 2024 is now closed.

Beginners Course topics include:

  • Equipment, cost and time commitment needed
  • The lifecycle of the Honey Bee
  • Colony management
  • Swarm control
  • Honey extraction
  • Pests & diseases
  • What you can expect during your first year of beekeeping
  • Advice on hive location and obtaining your first colony of bees

Please contact training@stalbansbees.org for more information.

Hives for All Scheme

One you have completed the Beginners Course you can take the next step towards managing a live colony. We offer a hive rental and mentorship scheme, Hives for All, to all prospective beekeepers.

In your first year we provide a mentor and some bees and you will be allocated a spot at one of our teaching apiaries. At the end of the year you can choose to purchase the bees and their hive, or walk away with not so much as a few stings, some basic equipment and Country Membership to our association (optional, of course).

This scheme is offered to those who have attended our beginners course (recommended for anyone and everyone wishing to take up beekeeping). The course is held at the beginning of spring.

Should you decide to enrol in our Hives for All scheme, all you will need in your first year is a beekeeping suit, boots (preferably wellies) and gloves (washing up gloves will suffice) and a commitment to attend the apiary every Saturday (give or take) through the summer.

Members of St Albans & District Beekeepers Association will benefit from exclusive access to our BBKA Basic Assessment study group. 

BBKA Basic Assessment

The BBKA Basic Assessment is an examination offered by the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA). The Basic Assessment serves as a crucial milestone for beekeepers, providing a comprehensive evaluation of their knowledge and skills in apiculture. The assessment covers fundamental aspects of beekeeping, including hive management, bee biology, pest and disease identification, and practical beekeeping techniques.

Beekeepers who undertake the BBKA Basic Assessment often do so as part of their continuous learning and development in apiculture. Successfully passing the Basic Assessment can be a significant accomplishment for beekeepers, providing recognized certification within the beekeeping community.

The BBKA, recognizing the aspirational journey of its members, has developed a structured progression, with the Basic Assessment acting as a prerequisite for advanced certifications. Beekeepers can leverage their success to enrol in more advanced programs such as General and Advanced Husbandry, Microscopy, Honey Bee Breeding and more.

Undertaking the BBKA Basic Assessment brings myriad benefits to beekeepers. It serves as a structured learning pathway, encouraging enthusiasts to deepen their understanding of beekeeping fundamentals. The assessment not only validates one’s existing knowledge but also identifies areas for improvement, fostering continuous growth in the craft.

The assessment not only imparts foundational knowledge but also instills a commitment to ongoing learning and improvement. Beekeepers who excel in the Basic Assessment often find themselves inspired to pursue higher levels of expertise.

As individuals accumulate experience and successfully complete higher-level assessments, they inch closer to the coveted title of Master Beekeeper. Attaining this esteemed status signifies a comprehensive mastery of beekeeping skills, a deep understanding of hive management, and a commitment to the preservation of honey bee health. 

A Master Beekeeper not only serves as a beacon of knowledge within the community but also contributes significantly to the advancement and sustainability of apiculture practices. Thus, the BBKA Basic Assessment becomes a pivotal stepping stone on the transformative journey toward mastery in beekeeping.

You can view the 2024 Basic Assessment syllabus here.



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beginners Course