Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells Branch

June to do list.

Beware of food shortage after taking honey

Monitor and treat for Varroa (non-chemical with supers on)

Full disease inspection

Weekly inspections – Look closely for queen cells

Practice marking (and clipping) drones

Ensure sufficient supers for main flow

Extract full supers

Continue swarm control

Mate new queens

Collect swarms (if you know how to) See Article under ‘Swarms’.


Developmental Period of Egg to:

Queen  16 days,
Worker 21 days

Drone   24 days

Queen Fertility 23+ days

Drone Fertility 38+ days

Click here for more details.

A Worker Bee 

In summer lives only 6 to 8 weeks from the time she hatches as an adult bee

In late autumn the queen lays eggs that develop into workers that live for 4/6 months to survive the winter.

Typical Colony:

50/70,000 bees in mid summer

There will be 1 queen,250 drones, 20,000 female foragers,

30,000 female house-bees,

5,000 to 7,000 eggs, 7,000-11,000 larvae being fed,

16,000 to 24,000 larvae developing into adults in sealed cells.

Number of UK Beekeepers.

In the UK there are approximately 44,000 beekeepers looking after around 240,000 hives. They produce 6,000 tons of honey per year. Each hive is worth about £400 to the agricultural economy. We produce only 20% of the honey we consume - the rest is imported.


All tips for Getting Started

Getting Started

The challenges brought about by new pests and diseases mean that all beekeepers including experienced ones need to carry on learning probably for as long as they keep bees. As a beginner you will want to learn the basics as quickly as possible. Later there will be plenty of opportunities to learn more about the biology, social life and behaviour of the amazing honey bee.

Local Beekeeping Groups

It is worthwhile joining your local group of beekeepers before you start buying anything. In these groups you will find enthusiastic and friendly people, some with a lot of experience, and a growing number of beginners too.

The programme of meetings arranged by the Sevenoaks & Tunbridge Wells Branch of KBKA includes winter talks and summer demonstrations held at our two Apiary Sites at Barr Wood [on the Hildenborough Road between Shipbourne and Hildenborough] and Hilbert Road Tunbrdge Wells TN2 3SA . During the spring and summer there will be opportunities for you to experience handling bees and equipment before you spend any money.

Barr Wood Apiary - Inspecting the Hives
Barr Wood Apiary - Inspecting the Hives

When you decide to go ahead and start with bees you will be able to learn from experienced beekeepers. Some of our members can act as your mentor and many beginners find this very helpful.

You are welcome to attend any of our meetings before you join the Branch and before you finally decide to go ahead with bees.

Watch a video taken at Barr Wood Apiary for some of the meetings in 2012. Download: 'BarrWood2012' [30 mins]

Or watch this short video [9.25 mins.] to see an inspection of our hives in 2009 at Barr Wood Apiary by clicking on:'BarrWood2009'.

Beginners Working the Bees at our Barr Wood Apiary
Beginners Working the Bees at our Barr Wood Apiary

Beginners’ Courses

There are a number of beekeeping courses for beginners in this area. During the winter, courses are usually classroom based covering the basic syllabus of the British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) in eight to ten weekly two hourly sessions. There are intensive weekend courses too. During the spring and summer there are courses covering the practical aspects usually based in a training apiary. In January BeeCraft publish a list of courses in the BeeCraft Courses Directory.


Practical Training

During the spring and summer our two apiaries hold meetings where beginners are encouraged to handle bees and some of our members also hold meetings at their apiaries and we encourage beginners to try some hands on beekeeping. They will open a hive and handle bees under the guidance of experienced beekeepers. Many have found this extremely useful particularly as they prepare to start with their own bees in a nucleus (a starter colony) or a swarm.

Home Study

If you are unable to find a suitable course nearby or at a time when you can attend, you can enrol with the BBKA Correspondence Course. Some beginners study at home. If you are attending a course and especially if you are embarking on studying at home on your own, you will benefit by joining an informal discussion group of beginners.

Books and Websites

Barr Wood Apiary - Practical Training
Barr Wood Apiary - Practical Training

There are plenty of books about bees and beekeeping and many are aimed at beginners. Our Branch library includes some of the following books for beginners, so you can look at them before you chose one to buy.

Click here to see the recent additions to our library.

These are looked after by Sarah Rapley. She can be contacted on 01732 761 441, by email: or she may bring them along to our winter meetings.

There is also a wealth of information on the web - for example this beginner's FAQ is extremely useful.