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.
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'.
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.
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.
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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.