Introduction to Beekeeping Course

Coronavirus Update

Due to the restrictions brought in to combat the Coronavirus epidemic we will not be able to hold the theory day at Ormskirk School or get together for the practical sessions at our out apiary.

We will instead run the course using video conferencing and online Q&A Forums.

Each year in Spring the Branch runs a two day course as an introduction to beekeeping. The 2020 course will be held in the Activity Room at Ormskirk School and at our out apiary in King's Moss on the 18th and 19th of April.

Our short course uses the British Beekeepers Association's (BBKA) 'Introduction to Beekeeping' teaching materials. The course's objectives allow people to :-

  • Be able to understand and recognise the basic parts of a hive.
  • Understand the life cycle of a honey bee.
  • Understand what is involved in keeping bees.
  • Be able to make an informed decision as to whether or not beekeeping is for them.
Course Tutor
 One of the course tutors

The course tutor for both days was Brian Jones who has been keeping bees for over ten years.

For the practical session on day two, suitable protective footwear and gloves should be provided by each student (Wellington boots and rubber Marigolds are recommended). Protective bee suits, veils and gloves will be loaned to those students who are unable to provide their own.

Members of the course having a practical demonstration in the apiary

Members of the course having a practical demonstration in the apiary

On completing the course, and joining our Branch, new members are then able to extend their knowledge by attending a series of practical sessions held at our out apiary in King's Moss.

A worker cleaning a brood frame cell
A worker cleaning a brood frame cell

We normally only run one course per year (over two days) with approximately 40 places available for students. The course fee for 2020 is £120.00 which includes :-

  • One place on the two day course (including light lunch).
  • Membership of our Branch and the BBKA for one year.
  • Eight or more 'hands on' practical sessions at our out apiary.
  • A monthly Branch newsletter (via e-mail or post).
  • Twelve copies of 'BBKA News' per year.
  • BBKA public and product liability insurance (up to £5M per incident, with a £500 excess on each claim excluding personal injury).
  • Bee disease insurance for up to three hives.
  • Reduced entry fee to the BBKA Spring Convention.

NB Any students who opt out of practical sessions or Branch membership will not be offered a course fee concession

Bees on a brood frame
Bees on a brood frame

We have been running this introductory course for over ten years and it has always proven to be very popular. Applications are also welcome from outside the Lancashire area. In previous years we have had attendees from as far a field as Oxford and Northumberland.

Typical activity on a brood frame

Typical activity on a brood frame


On each day of the course there will be two fifteen minute tea breaks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon and also a sixty minute break will be taken for lunch. Please note that a light lunch is provided as part of the course fee for both days.

Course attendees are advised to turn up promptly at 9:00 AM on Saturday and 9:45 AM on Sunday and for all sessions after a break. The itinerary for both days of the course is outlined below.

Day 1
9:00 AM Registration (tea/coffee)
9:45 AM Refresher on bees and hives
10:45 AM Break (tea/coffee)
11:00 AM Swarm control
12:00 PM Lunch
1:00 PM Pests & Diseases
2:00 PM Break (tea/coffee)
2:15 PM Beekeeping Year
3:15 PM Finish
Day 2
9:45 AM Making a frame/assembling a flat pack hive
10:45 AM Break (tea/coffee)
11:00 AM Honey & other products of the hive
12:00 PM Lunch
1:00 PM Apiary location
2:00 PM Break (tea/coffee)
2:15 PM Hive opening
3:15 PM Summary session
3:30 PM Finish

During day two the attendees will be split into two groups and will rotate the morning and afternoon sessions.

Drones and workers emerging from between brood frames
Drones and workers emerging from between brood frames

After the course there will be a two hour practical session at our out apiary every week starting at 2:00 PM on Sundays (unless there is a Branch meeting within a couple of days). The practicals normally run from April/May until the end of July.

You will need to bring normal beekeeping protection to practical sessions. However you might be able to borrow a veil or a beekeeping suit for the duration of the session on a first come, first served basis. Remember to bring your own Wellington boots and protective gloves (rubber household washing up/cleaning Marigolds are OK).

Any hive tools, beekeeper's smokers and basic woodworking tools will be provided. The aims of the practical sessions are for new beekeepers to be able to :-

  • Open up a bee hive with the correct tools.
  • Remove and examine frames.
  • Recognise eggs, larva, sealed worker brood, drone cells and queen cells.
  • Recognise 'ripe' honey.
  • To be able to assess the condition of the colony :-
    • Has it enough stores?
    • Are there eggs and brood at all stages?
    • Is there space for the queen to lay?
    • Is there space to store honey?
    • Is there anything unusual (may be disease, seek advice)?
  • Receive instruction in the assembly of hives and frames from flat packed kits.
  • Extract honey.
  • Light and maintain a beekeeper's smoker.

Each practical session is supervised by an experienced beekeeper and is held in a friendly and informal fashion. New beekeepers are openly encouraged to ask any questions that they might have during or after the session.

Any new beekeepers who obtain bees while the practical sessions are running can also ask for help and advice.

Application form

For an application form or for more information click here

Mark Oakley,
17 Aug 2020, 05:23