"Not just a different beehive, but a whole new way
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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.

Buy your protective clothing here and get a special 15% discount! (use the code BAREFOOTBEEKEEPER at checkout and be sure to 'update basket')

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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.
  • 2016

  • April 16-17 Introduction to Balanced Beekeeping at Welcombe, North Devon (B) FULLY BOOKED
  • May 14-15 Glenuig Hall, Scotland (N,B) book here
  • July 1-3 Balanced Beekeeping at Furzelegh Farm, Ashburton, Devon - Starter Weekend: learn about Balanced Beekeeping and take away bees and a hive! (B) (nearly full)
  • July 29-31 Balanced Beekeeping at Furzelegh Farm, Ashburton, Devon - Starter Weekend: learn about Balanced Beekeeping and take away bees and a hive! (B) (booking opens soon)
  • August 5-7 - Northern Bee Gathering Brinscall Hall, Chorley, Lancs.(All) Details TBA
  • August 26-28 - Managing the Top Bar Hive Brinscall Hall, Chorley, Lancs.(I)
  • September 10-11 Managing the Top Bar Hive at Welcombe, North Devon (I)
  • September 29-November 3 Evening class at Dartington (N,B)
  • October 28-30 Introduction to Balanced Beekeeping at Brinscall Hall, Chorley, Lancs. Tutor: John Vendy(N,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

distance learning

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.

Other UK-based Natural Beekeeping Training Providers


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 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

Suggested reading: An Introduction to Balanced Beekeeping

Starting in Balanced Beekeeping

for beginners/converters (B)

This is aimed at those who have completed the Introduction weekend, or who are already conversant with beekeeping terminology and basic concepts and are ready to start.

* 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)

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

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?

 Friends of the Bees
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