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  • March 24-25 Balanced Beekeeping For All at Welcombe, North Devon. This weekend will be for beekeeping beginners and people wanting to convert to more natural methods, or extend their skills. Please call Sue or Mick on 01288 331700 to book (B, I)

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  • 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)

  • Which is the right beekeeping course for me?

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

    If you are still thinking about taking up beekeeping and would like to find out what is involved, you could begin with 'Introduction to Balanced Beekeeping', which is aimed at complete novices. If you are ready to start and need some practical knowledge and hands-on experience, 'Starting in Balanced Beekeeping' is for you. During your first or second season. Managing the Top Bar Hive is recommended, and this is also ideal for those with some experience of beekeeping in conventional hives, who want to start with top bar hives. Once you have a season or two under your belt, you will enjoy a more specialized event, such as 'Swarms and Simple Queen Rearing' to extend your knowledge and experience.

    Courses comprise a mixture of illustrated talks, practical demonstrations and discussion, and questions are encouraged throughout. Teaching material and methods are adapted to meet the needs of students as much as possible, while ensuring coverage of important areas. All events are 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. 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. Where possible, and 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.

    Can't get to a "real world" training?

    Natural Beekeeping for Gardeners

    On-line Natural Beekeeping interactive course with Phil Chandler

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

    Whether or not you are a gardener, this course will give you a good understanding of bees and beekeeping on a domestic scale, which will form a sound basis for progression to a practical course. Suitable for complete novices.


    "Balanced beekeeping" is a continuous quest for the improvement of our relationship with bees. It recognises that keeping bees is not natural, because in nature, only bees keep bees. It acknowledges that our desire for honey may not be matched by the bees' willingness to give it up. It recognises that the bees have their own lives and they would probably prefer that we left them alone, however much we are kindly disposed towards them. It is a search for the best ways to be with bees.

    Balanced Beekeeping courses comprise a mixture of illustrated talks, practical demonstrations and discussion. Questions are encouraged throughout. Teaching materials and methods are adapted to meet the needs of students as much as possible.

    Introduction to Balanced Beekeeping

    for novices (N)

    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 I need to get started?
    * The nature of honeybees and flowering plants
    * Principles of balanced beekeeping
    * How to make a good start with bees
    * How to bait a hive to attract free swarms
    * How to take a swarm from a tree
    * How to keep healthy bees
    * The lifecycle of a colony
    * Optimal hive design and function
    * How to build a top bar hive
    * How to recognise common pests and diseases
    * How to keep healthy bees
    Suggested reading: An Introduction to Balanced Beekeeping

    Managing the Top Bar Hive

    for improvers/converters (I)

    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
    * Comparing vertical and horizontal hives
    * Balanced beekeeping in conventional hives
    * Swarming and basic swarm management
    * Making increase and combining
    * Managing pests and diseases

    Swarming, Splits and Queen Rearing

    for beekeepers with 2+ years experience (A)

    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?

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    © 2017 Phil Chandler    Friends of the Bees
    natural, balanced beekeeping courses and training