The course will teach you the things you need to know to manage your own colony of bees. It provides a grounding in theoretical and practical beekeeping and guidance on further development of beekeeping skills. Advice on obtaining bees and the best bees for the local area will also be given. Participants will be introduced to the beekeeping associations operating in their local area.
There are no entry requirements for this course. Under 18s must be accompanied by a paying adult.
The course consists of evening classroom sessions including talks, slide and video shows, equipment demonstrations and discussions. This will be integrated with four afternoon practical sessions opening bee hives and handling bees.
There are no prior requirements for this course other than an interest and fascination with bees.
The course consists of ten, 2¼ hour evening sessions, and four 2 hour afternoon practical sessions. Participants would benefit from reading course handouts and gaining additional experience handling bees, perhaps via local beekeeping associations.
Classroom sessions start in March and run weekly until May. The four practical classes will be held on Saturdays. Start date will be agreed once the class starts. Start time is kept flexible to maximise the learning opportunity with the beehives. Decisions around start time are made once we know how bee colonies are developing over the spring as this can vary in very warm or cold springs.
The aim of the course is to take participants from having no knowledge of bees or beekeeping to a level where they could manage their own hive.
The Beekeeping Year: What to expect in the beekeeping year. Thinking about the right bees for you. Recommended books and leaflets; Honey bees, bumblebees and wasps – who’s who.
The Honeybee Community: Identifying the queen, workers and drones, their anatomy, life cycles and roles; the many roles of worker bees; honey bee communication; integration of colony activities.
Hives & Equipment: History of beekeeping; hive design and how to choose the right hive for you; hive components; tools and protective clothing; Sources of equipment.
Colony Management: Hive watching – what can you learn by just watching your hive; inspecting the colony; finding and marking the queen; uniting colonies; moving and transporting hives; preparing for honey.
Reproduction & Swarming: Why bees swarm and how to spot when they are preparing to do so; swarm collection; artificial swarming and making more colonies; queen behaviour and mating; queen rearing.
How to get started: Setting up an apiary; obtaining bees; record keeping; ongoing advice; advantages of local beekeeping association membership & presentations by local beekeeping associations.
Forage, farmers and neighbours: The ecological and economic importance of bees; natural forage and forage crops; soft fruit and top fruit; gardening for bees; agricultural sprays and poisoning; bees in the human community; legal issues and insurance.
The Harvest: Harvesting of honey from mixed flower sources, oil seed rape and heather honey; filtration, bottling and labelling of honey; comb honey; harvesting wax, pollen and propolis; legal considerations of selling hive products.
Pests, Diseases and Hive Hygiene: How to keep your bees healthy; protection from mice, woodpeckers, wax moth, etc.; identification of brood and adult diseases; varroa mites and their control; statutory requirements; official inspections; good apiary practice.
Winter Feeding and Summing Up: How to help your bees survive though the winter; opportunity to cover additional topics that have arisen during the course and review specific areas raised by the class.
Students are advised not to buy or reserve their own bees until they have completed the course.
After the course, you could keep your own colonies of bees.
We are the largest further education provider in Northumberland with campuses throughout the county.
Our student transport scheme is available for eligible students to make getting to and from college as easy as possible.
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