Yes, we hold a one day introduction for anyone who is interested in learning more about bees?  The next Taster Day will be held in June 2019 and we are taking bookings.  

On the day, we introduce you to beekeeping, provide lunch and then there is the opportunity to inspect a colony of bees at our Association Training Apiary.  

It would make a brilliant Christmas or Birthday Gift to a friend or loved one who is interested in beekeeping.

For further information and to book your place  email:   Jean Frost

Phone: 01420 561136 or 07879 454046

We encourage everybody interested in beekeeping to become a member of a local beekeeping Association. If you do not have space for a hive then they can put you in touch with people who have available land or you can get involved with the Association Apiary.

We encourage all new beekeepers to attend a course introducing the skills and knowledge required to keep healthy bees. A theory course should be followed by a practical course to gain the confidence, skills and experience to safely handle bees.

Theory Course

In February every year, an 8 week long theory course introduces newcomers to beekeeping. Experienced and trained members from the association provide the training supported by a range of internal and external experts. The course covers bee biology, bee health, constructing hive parts, disease, obtaining bees, swarming and honey extraction. By attending you will gain enough information to set up your own hive and look after your first colony of bees. A mentor is provided to every new beekeeper

Cost – is reviewed annually and includes a beginners book and membership of the MVBKA

Venue – Warnford Hall (Directions)

Time – Every Tuesday from 6th February – 17th March starting at 7:30 till 9ish

Practical Course

Starting on the Saturday 5th May 2018 we ar running  a 6 week ‘hands on’ practical course at our Association Apiary. The course is run by experienced members of the MVBKA on a ratio of 4 to 1. The course covers all practical aspects of making frames and boxes, inspecting your bees, handling bees, identifying and catching a queen, methods of swarm control, disease identification, drone laying queens and keeping your bees healthy and safe. Below is a picture of the class of 2017 as they had a fantastic time learning and gaining the confidence to set up their first hive. The next course will run in 2018.

Cost – £75 for the full 6 weeks and includes a handbook showing month by month procedures and tasks and refreshments

Venue – Association Apiary

Time – 2.30pm for 3 hours every Saturday afternoon

If you are new to beekeeping we recommend that you attend our 6 week theory course where the purchase of your first bees will be covered. A nucleus of bees comprising a fertile queen and a supply of young bees is a good way to start beekeeping as your colony will increase over the season together with your confidence in handling them.

A nucleus of bees costs around £200 and a member of your association will be to recommend a reputable supplier who will ensure you receive healthy bees.  At our yearly auction, which happens every May, you can pick up a nucleus of bees cheaper than online. But you better be a quick bidder as they are snatched up almost instantly.

An alternative is to purchase a colony of swarm bees from our association apiary at a nominal charge of £50.  We will keep the swarms for 3 weeks to check for disease before they are made available to beekeepers.

Many people have started beekeeping by collecting or being given a swarm of bees. These are free and belong to whoever collects them. Nothing will be known about the age of the queen unless she is colour marked and nothing of the temperament of the bees. It is also possible that the bees could carry disease.  This can work but it is a risk for first-time beekeepers. At the start of the season you can put your name down on the swarm list and when one arrives you are given a phone call and asked if you would like to pick it up.

Somewhere between £300 and £600. If you are on a low budget and are good at woodwork you might be able to construct your own hives at a lower cost. Sometimes it is possible to pick up ‘second’ quality flat pack hives from the manufacturers.  Of course, second hand is always an option meaning you can get it for cheaper but you have to be careful of the quality of the stuff you are buying

Every May the association has an auction where you can buy secondhand equipment. It is also possible to buy bees at auction but not always at a bargain price.  We also sell swarm bees from the association apiary at a reasonable price.

After you have been on a course and obtained your bees, the rush of excitement at the fact you are now a beekeeper can quickly overwhelm you.

It is very tempting to open the hive and disturb the brood nest when the first sunny days of spring arrive. It is perfectly OK to have a quick peep to make sure that all is well but unless the weather is really warm for this time of the year the first thorough inspection should be left until April. A warm day in March is a good time to replace the hive floors with clean ones. This can be done with little disturbance to the bees. A good rule is that hives should only be opened when it is warm enough for the beekeeper to be wearing shirt sleeves.

It is possible to keep bees in a small garden. There are beekeepers in London who site their hives on flat roofs. You will need to be aware of any close neighbours, however, and hives should be sited with entrances facing away from their land or any public area. It would be prudent to discuss your plans with your neighbours and get them on your side. If this is not possible you may well be able to find someone who would love to have your bees in their large garden, orchard etc. Our association often has requests from landowners.

As well as this you will need somewhere to store all of your kit. When you begin there isn’t a lot of stuff that you desperately need but as the years go by you will start to accumulate quite a lot of equipment.  Most beekeepers use a shed or garage to store this in.