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  • Please Ensure all sale of bees are checked & sold within the correct guidelines, State the location, Type and package/nuc/hive
Please Ensure all sale of bees are checked & sold within the correct guidelines, State the location, Type and package/nuc/hive
 #5382  by AdamD
 04 Jan 2020, 11:01
For any prospective new beekeepers who want to obtain bees for this year, it's wise to secure a nucleus colony early and there are always only limited supplies in spring of overwintered colonies until this years queens become available which is often not until June.
And if the winter weather proves difficult there will be existing beekeepers who want to re-stock once they realize that their own bees have not all survived.
 #6791  by AdamD
 01 May 2020, 09:01
I have had a couple of calls recently from beekeepers wanting a queen. Nothing odd about that except both were from new beekeepers who wanted a queen to start a colony. I explained that you need, perhaps, 10,000 bees with the queen as part of a nucleus colony and a queen by herself is not a way to start as she will die.
 #6793  by AndrewLD
 01 May 2020, 10:53
AdamD wrote:
01 May 2020, 09:01
I have had a couple of calls recently from beekeepers wanting a queen. Nothing odd about that except both were from new beekeepers who wanted a queen to start a colony. I explained that you need, perhaps, 10,000 bees with the queen as part of a nucleus colony and a queen by herself is not a way to start as she will die.
I know there are those on the forum who complain about beginners courses run by local associations but your post really does highlight the ignorance with which some try to start beekeeping - sadly for all of us, beekeepers, public and the bees, some do actually get bees and become a complete pain to everyone around them :(
Worse though is the foolishness of some beekeepers who should know better. I have heard of one Improvers' Course leader whose opening words to his course were reported to be, "Forget everything you were taught on the Beginners' Course - I am going to tell you how it is really done....." thus undermining confidence leaving them with no base at all on which to work.
 #6799  by Japey Edge
 01 May 2020, 13:36
On that note Andrew - I watched YouTube videos, read my Ted Hooper book and did general research into beekeeping. I learned nothing from my starter course with the local association. Well I say nothing. I learned how to quickly get rid of £60.

I'd already assembled loads of frames by then, so really they charged me £60 and got some free graft out of me.
 #6800  by NigelP
 01 May 2020, 15:13
I can say with experience that some starter courses are simply not well taught. The "beliefs" of the various teachers on the one I did many moons ago beggar belief. Always use plastic ends, always use local bees , never use SN4's, never buy a poly hive your bees will overheat, matchsticks under crownboards to give a nice draft of cold air through the hive etc etc. I also hated been called a "Newbee" as though they were the experts. What I remember afterwards was an overbearing sense of being taught all their little prejudices, rather than reasoned answers
I asked how one got started with bees they said wait for a swarm, put your name down on the list....I wisely ignored this bad advice and bought a nuc to start with and wasted the next 5 years trying to improve my local bees which were then, and still are a, nightmare (in my particularly area). At no stage where we ever given the various options like different hive types that would suit different bee strains...in fact they didn't even tell us there were any other bee strains :). I still have the original handouts....I shall look them out and provide a few more pearls of wisdom.
I'll give you a typical example of how bad their education secretary was. I A few years ago I was due to give a talk to my local association about varroa and their control. Their education secretary rang me up a couple of days before hand and said I could not talk about using oxalic acid for treating varroa as it was highly dangerous and there would be beginners in the audience...I refused, he refused to budge. I resigned from the association. This is typical of how badly some beginners course are taught.

So Yes,.... it sounds like good advice to forget most of what your are taught initially.

I just wish they would try to get new beekeepers to think about what is happening with THEIR own bees and not take advice from someone with different bees in a different area. Being a good beekeeper is more about working and reacting to what your bees are doing and there are many ways to achieve the same end.
I honestly think many starter course are simply an extension of the ego and a chance to pass their own particular "prejudices" of the education secretaries who run them.
 #6802  by AndrewLD
 01 May 2020, 17:36
The association I belong to charges around £85 for: an inital 9 weeks of evenings at a local college in January to March. That includes tuition, first year's assoc membership and the course textbook - the Haynes Bee Manual by Claire & Adrian Waring (RIP). The weekly syllabus follows the Haynes manual and there is a mix of speakers, we try to ensure two on any one one evening.
This is followed as part of that fee by three apiary sessions, plus an autumn briefing (preparing the bees for winter) and at least one session in the following January. There is a hive building session and at least until Thorne brought in their economy hive, there was a try-a-hive (money back) scheme. I defy anyone to say that is not good value.
I doubt this is typical and we all know the bores who constantly tell us they know best but I am sticking to my guns on this - if you want to keep bees - doing your association's starter course is the best step.
 #6804  by Cable_Fairy
 01 May 2020, 20:41
My Basic was as follows, £85 which included the BBKA book of beekeeping, 12 evening sessions starting March and two Sunday Morning sessions at the association hives. I had already read the Haynes Bee Manual from cover to cover a number of times so I knew most of the content of the course. There was some unofficial sessions at the hives on a Sunday morning, but these tended to be monopolised by experienced bee keepers and we newbies stood on the outside watching. We did half an hour building frames and that was it. It was worth while and I enjoyed the whole experience. Then we were let loose to learn beekeeping!!
 #6806  by Patrick
 01 May 2020, 22:17
I wonder if there is a natural tendency to teach all beginners the same basic syllabus that was taught 20 years ago? The aspiration to get everyone to the same level is great, but thanks to the internet and some good books maybe those interested are able to access a lot of basic information for themselves?

In fact, maybe there is almost too much theoretical information I sometimes wonder how any new starter can possibly sort the wheat from the chaff.

Perhaps beginners courses should just provide a book to read (Haynes is good) and concentrate on intensive hands on apiary sessions?
 #6807  by MickBBKA
 01 May 2020, 22:23
Nigel raises some very good points in his post. In my local association we have a very good beginners course which is friendly and inclusive and reasonably open to debate.
Where I diverge is the pretty strict adherence to BBKA doctrine. We are taught the BBKA way in pretty much all things. I am very questioning by nature and very rarely take anything at face value. I find the BBKA mantra too strict in its approach and not encouraging of debate or question. I used to get quite confused with what I was taught and what I was observing. Keeping good records allows you to look back in detail and confirm your observations which can often be very different to what you have been lead to believe is either true or ' the only way '

7 and 10 day inspections as taught and often repeated in the BBKA mag I find an absolute joke.
I never understood what a scrub queen was until about my 3rd year, I can't ever remember reading about one in any BBKA teaching literature. I never heard of workers moving eggs into supers and creating queen cells. I never heard of colonies swarming before queen cells were capped.

There is a huge gap in the BBKA teaching programme and the reason I pushed for more advanced sessions in our association with some limited success.

The Basic does what it says on the tin, unfortunately it doesn't go much further than that once completed. Its learn as you go, sink or swim.