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(N)=Novice (still thinking about it)
(B)=Beginners (ready to start)
(I)=Intermediate (some practical experience)
(A)=Advanced (suggested minimum 2 seasons with bees)
(E)=Event (e.g. meeting or conference, not a training) - see here for details)

Addressing everyone's needs for learning is my first priority, so I hope that this more structured approach will help you decide where you should start. An absolute beginner could begin with 'Introduction to Balanced Beekeeping', followed by 'Starting in Balanced Beekeeping', then a 'Beekeeper's Progress' session to fill in the blanks during your first full season. The following year you could attend a more specialized event, such as 'Swarms and Simple Queen Rearing' to extend your knowledge and experience. You can decide what is likely to suit you best.

Introductory events are mainly intended for people who are still in the 'thinking about it' phase, and we aim to give you an overview of what is involved in this style of beekeeping and will help you decide if it is for you. There will be plenty of opportunities to ask questions and discuss all aspects of starting a hive or two. Introductory events are marked (N)

Beginners' events have a balanced mix of theory and practice and major on the horizontal top bar hive, while including descriptions and - where possible - demonstrations of other 'non-conventional' hives, such as the Warré. Material is adapted to meet the needs of students as much as possible, while ensuring coverage of the important areas. Beginner-level events are marked (B)

Intermediate courses are more flexible, and will always be adapted to address the particular needs of students, with coaching in the areas most requiring improvement. These events are particularly suitable for people who have done some practical beekeeping in any type of hive and wish to convert to more natural methods, as well as those who wish to improve their top bar management skills. Intermediate level events are marked (I)

Advanced courses tend to be more practical and discussion-based, as students are likely to be conversant with management methodologies and are encouraged to contribute. While focus is always on the major theme of the event, students are encouraged to explore connected areas and to share ideas and experiences. Advanced level events are marked (A)

Weather permitting, we will spend some time with resident bees, so please bring suitable clothing; at least a hat and veil, or a full suit if you prefer.

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  • Please refer to the host site for further information and booking procedures. If you are thinking about hosting a course or talk, please contact me.
  • 2015

  • October 16-18 - Introduction to Balanced Beekeeping at Brinscall Hall, Chorley, Lancashire (N,B**) NOTE CHANGE OF DATE
  • 2016

  • January 14 - Feb 18 Evening class at Schumacher College, Dartington
  • April 9-10 Balanced Beekeeping for Beginners Leeds Friends of the Bees (B)
  • April 16-17 Introduction to Balanced Beekeeping at Welcombe, North Devon (B)
  • Key
    (N)=Novice (still thinking about it)
    (B)=Beginners (ready to start)
    (I)=Intermediate (some practical experience)
    (A)=Advanced (suggested minimum 2 seasons with bees)
    (E)=Event (e.g. meeting or conference, not a training) - see here for details)

Natural Beekeeping for Gardeners

Phil Chandler

International Natural Beekeeping online interactive course

A four-week course in Natural and Balanced Beekeeping from the top online gardening school, with audio-visual teaching and marked assignments.

This course will give you a good, basic understanding of bees and beekeeping on a domestic scale. Suitable for complete novices.

Other UK-based Natural Beekeeping Training Providers


Introduction to Balanced Beekeeping

for novices (N)

Tutor - Phil Chandler

Learn about 'balanced beekeeping' in top bar hives: a simple, practical way to have healthy and happy bees in your garden, with the possibility of your own honey harvest, but without the cost and complications associated with conventional beekeeping.

This course is intended for people with no previous knowledge of bees or beekeeping, and will provide you with all the information you need to decide if, when and how you will become a beekeeper.

* Why keep bees?
* What do you need to get started?
* The nature of honeybees and flowering plants
* The history of our relationship with bees
* Principles of balanced beekeeping
* How to make a good start with bees

Starting in Balanced Beekeeping

for beginners/converters (B)

Tutor - Phil Chandler

This is aimed at those who have completed the Introduction weekend, or who have equivalent experience, including those interested in converting from conventional beekeeping methods.

* Introducing bees to a top bar hive
* Baiting and swarm catching
* The lifecycle of a colony
* Optimal hive design and function
* How to keep healthy bees
* How to build a top bar hive
* Common pests and diseases

Managing the Top Bar Hive

for improvers/converters (I)

Tutor - Phil Chandler

This 2-day Intermediate-level course is intended for people who have - as a minimum - basic familiarity with bee anatomy and behaviour, plus some experience of practical beekeeping in any type of hive. We will be focusing on the practical and theoretical aspects of working with bees in a more natural and balanced way, ranging across all aspects of beekeeping. You are encouraged to contribute your own experiences to our discussions, which are likely to include:

* The philosophy of 'balanced beekeeping'
* Hive design from the bees' point of view
* Managing top bar hives in practice
* Swarming and basic swarm management
* Making increase and combining
* Pests and diseases

Beekeepers' Progress

for improvers/converters (I)

Tutor - Phil Chandler

Mainly intended for people who have attended a previous event, some experience of practical beekeeping is assumed. You are encouraged to contribute your own experiences, and discussions will be supplemented by seasonally-appropriate practical sessions. My aim is that nobody leaves with their questions unanswered!

Swarming, Splits and Queen Rearing

for beekeepers with 2+ years experience (A)

Tutor - Phil Chandler

This event will major on the most exciting period of the beekeeping year, when colonies seek to reproduce themselves and there are opportunities for acquiring more colonies. The possibilities for rearing new colonies from 'swarm queens' will be explored, and we will look in detail at other methods of rearing queens suitable for balanced beekeeping.

* Why bees swarm
* Swarming: problem or opportunity?
* Swarm catching techniques
* Artificial swarming
* Choosing a method of queen rearing
* Queen mating and introduction
* Bee breeding: can we improve our stocks?

© 2015 P Chandler    Friends of the Bees
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