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Beekeeper with Bees

Training - Improvers

Honeycomb

Improvers

We offer continued beekeeping support to all our members.

Our Improvers course is aimed at those who have had at least one year or more experience of taking care of their own bees. and is meant as the next step in enhancing your beekeeping skills. It is ideal to consolidate the learning and skills you picked up in your first year.

 

Our next course starts in March 2025.

 

The course includes:

 

•   4 inter-active classroom sessions on Thursday evenings

•   practical training sessions in our club apiary during the summer

•   plus coaching and support from the club trainers

 

The Improvers course follows the BBKA Basic Assessment Syllabus so you can use this as a stepping stone to taking the BBKA exam if you wish.

If you’d like further information on the Improvers course then please get in touch with our training team at training.swhbk@gmail.com

BBKA Basic Assessment

Should you wish to take the BBKA Basic Assessment then ideally you will have managed at least one colony of bees for a minimum of 12 months.

 

The syllabus can appear daunting at first glance but closer inspection will show that it merely lists the basic things which all beekeepers should know.

The assessment is completely practical/oral and takes place mainly at a hive in a local apiary - usually the club apiary.

 

If you wish to apply for the assessment following the course you will need to contact the SWHBK training team.

 

The training team will arrange for the application form to be forwarded to you, which will require completion and returning along with the examination fee (2024 = £20) to the Area Examination secretary. The Area Examination secretary will then organise the assessment and contact you directly with details.

Honeycomb
Beekeeper at Work

Further Study & Support

Attending club meetings and events will help you to continue building your skills and knowledge alongside help from fellow members.

 

Hampshire Beekeepers Association (HBA) offers a library service and access to study groups to all full members of the club.

 

In addition, BBKA has a series of theory and practical exams you can take. This could lead to you becoming a Master beekeeper.

One man’s experience of 'taking the basic'.

Man with Beard

Bert of the Month

The Basic assessment is the first of the BBKA modules a new beekeeper can take. It is intended to confirm to the candidate that he knows more about beekeeping than he thinks and is the first rung on the ladder to Master Beekeeper, but that is a long way off.

 

You are supposed to have a minimum of one year’s experience before you can sit the exam. “Sit” is the wrong word, there are no exam papers, stern examiners in stuffy halls with clocks counting down how little time is left. The test, even that is not an accurate description, is almost all practical, with a few questions thrown in over a cup of coffee.

 

Preparation starts when you first learn about bees, buy the hive bits and bring home the bees. As you examine your bees, see what they are doing and try to outguess what they will do next you are already learning for this Basic exam, and each time you open the hive you are revising. It is as simple as that.

 

I had just finished my first year of beekeeping when I went in for the test, with another beekeeper who seemed to know an awful lot more about bees than me. But all new beekeepers feel that way.

 

We met up with our association’s teacher and mentor in a pub a few weeks before the test. The coaching consisted of going over what we have been doing that year when we check up on our bees. It is one thing doing it, but another to put that into words, i.e. to describe what you do, and most important, why you are doing it. It takes a bit of thinking about, but once you get into the habit it’s not difficult. I write out a little plan, just a few lines on paper, what I expect to see and what I plan to do about it. It’s not the same as saying it to someone – maybe that is what is meant by “talking to the bees”? Whatever I plan goes out the window as soon as I open the hive, they’ve beaten me to it again, whatever that is.

 

On the day we drove up to our examiner’s house. As there were just two of us taking the test we had to go to the examiner. If there is a group taking the test then the examiner will come to you (or your association’s apiary). A nice sunny day, little wind and warm sunshine – perfect for bees, and beekeepers. I was voted second victim, so had time to sit and see the examiner and my fellow beekeeper in action. I was too far away to hear what was said.

 

When my time came it was just a friendly chat as I went through my examiner’s hive – desperately trying not to crunch bees, I felt that would make a bad impression. You know that horrible noise? I did not make too many gaffs; luckily I corrected my mistake with the queen excluder before it was too late: bottom bee space with National hives! After that came the questions over a cup of coffee, followed by a chat before setting off home. Comparing notes while driving home we seemed to have had the same questions and things to do. Nothing different from what we’d do in our own apiary.

 

We both passed. Happy beekeepers. The next hurdle will be MUCH higher.

Interested?

Please contact training.swhbk@gmail.com if you have additional questions.

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