Westerham Beekeepers' Association

Getting Started

Jane and Adam's apiary
Apiary with a WBC and National hives

Westerham Beekeepers Training Apiary

Our training apiary at Crockham Hill is run by Steve and Tracy 

 

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

Apiary in winter
Apiary in winter

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 Westerham Branch of KBKA includes winter lectures and summer demonstrations held in member’s apiaries. 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.

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. For more specific information about courses near our area contact the following:                     

Hildenborough
Wednesdays 19 January to 16 March (not 2 March)
Beginners course with John Hendrie. Hildenborough Village Hall (Finzi Room) 8.00 to 10.00pm. Contact John Hendrie Tel:01732 833894. Email bibba26@talktalk.net

Demonstration at Jane and Adam's apiary
Learning to handle bees

Purley
East Surrey Bees., Thursdays starting on 13 January 2011, Beekeeping for Beginners 7.30-9.30 pm at the United Reformed Church Hall,  Purley. Contact www.eastsurreybees.co.uk

Dorset Road Allotments, Bromley.
Mondays 7 February to 11 April
Beekeeping for Beginners with Clive Watson and Bob Jackman. Contact Bob Jackman, Tel:0207 7339568 Email rfjackman@yahoo.co.uk

Tunbridge Wells
Thursdays 3 March to 21 April.
Beginners Beekeeping with Peter Hutton 5.30 to 7.30 pm and 7.30 to 9.30 pm. Contact Peter Hutton Tel: 07941 375589 Email peter.hutton@btinternet.com

Practical training

During the spring and summer some of our members provide opportunities for beginners to learn the practical aspects of beekeeping at the Crockham Hill Common apiary. They will learn how to 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

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.

Practical Beekeeping Clive de Bruyn
Bees at the bottom of the garden Alan Campion
Guide to Bees and Honey Ted Hooper
Starting Out With Bees John Williams