FDBKA Beginner’s Beekeeping Course

If you are interested in beekeeping we run a beginners course commencing in January each year. The course gives a taster from a theory point of view during January and February and then we take you to our Training Apiary in late March or April at the start of the active beekeeping season (dates dependent on weather).  It will give you an excellent base to work from and the opportunity to open up a beehive to determine if beekeeping is for you before any significant outlay in beekeeping equipment.  

Unfortunately the next course starting in January 2024 is now fully booked. If you are interested in the January 2025 course, email for an application form.  The cost of the course is £85.

Subject covered are:

Part 1 (Theory & In Class Practical)

  • Session 1      Honey Bee, Honey Bee Colony & Hives
  • Session 2      Colony Inspection & Beekeeping Year
  • Session 3      Swarm Management & Control 
  • Session 4      Bee Diseases, Treatments & Hygiene
  • Session 5      Bee Equipment & Swarm Control Demonstration
  • Session 6      Assembly of Hive Components & Frames           

Part 2 – Apiary Practical(s)

Apiary practical sessions are held at Manor Farm, Pylands Lane (run by Hampshire County Council), with weather dependant dates to be confirmed.

For those interested in joining our beginners course or taking up beekeeping find below our suggested reading list.

  • The BBKA Guide to Beekeeping (2015)            I Davis & R Cullum-Kenyon
  • Guide to Bees and Honey (2010)                     Ted Hooper
  • Haynes Bee Manual (2015)                              Claire & Adrian Waring
  • A Practical Book of Beekeeping (2017)            David Cramp
  • Beginner’s Bee Book (2014)                             Ted Hooper & Clive Bruyn
  • Get Started In Beekeeping (2015)                    Claire & Adrian Waring
  • Bees at the Bottom of the Garden (2001)        Alan Campion

BBKA Assessments & Modules
We support FDBKA members wishing to take a BBKA theory or a practical assessment. Modules normally take place during March and November each year with practical assessments taking place in late spring or the summer months when bees are active. The latest updates are on the BBKA website and will also appear below.
Exam Framework Flowchart
2024 Fees & Dates
Advanced Husbandry / Microscopy

Module Exams
Module closing date is 9th February with exams on 23rd March.
Exams are normally online but candidates could take them in-person at BBKA’s head office in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire However, please note that from 2025 all modules will be online.  Modular exams are held in March and November each year and we encourage you to form study groups to aid your preparation. Also, to enrol on a correspondence course for your module which can be run in study groups to share the cost.

Practical Assessments
Some assessments close on 28th February.
Options include: Advanced Husbandry, Honey Bee Health, General Husbandry and Honey Bee Breading certificate and will either be at your apiary, a local apiary of at BBKA’s apiary in Stoneleigh depending on the assessment being taken. It is strongly recommended to take the Honey Bee Health certificate as this will help ensure you raise strong colonies capable of resisting the varroa mite and help fight off predation by the Asian Hornet.
In order to undertake any of the above practical assessments you must have completed and passed the Basic Assessment.

Basic Assessment
We try to arrange all FDBKA candidates to take the Basic Assessment at a local apiary but if we have only one candidate they will usually need to go to a neighbouring association to join in with their assessments.

Starting out in Beekeeping
For those wishing start beekeeping we strongly encourage you to take the beginners course as described above. This will help you decide if beekeeping is for you before spending large sums on new kit and it will help you to understand how to handle used kit. 

Beekeeping is a fascinating hobby and the temptation of free honey is very irresistible.  Whilst we will always encourage anyone interested in taking up the hobby, it can be expensive so it is only fair that you are forewarned!   

  • You can expect to spend around £100 to £200 on a bee suit, smoker, hive tools, gloves etc, depending upon quality, just to get started.  Much more on other bits and pieces.   
  • A top quality Western Red Cedar full hive and supers (which should last 40+ years) as a flat pack will set you back around £400, other cheaper options such as English Cedar or Pine are available for a bit less but will not last as long (pine will need treating with a bee friendly wood preserver annually).  A poly hive and supers will set you back about £325 and will need painting.   
  • You are advised to have at least two hives going into winter which means much more kit.   
  • You can pay £100 – £200 for a starter colony of bees or wait for a swarm which is free (but may come with their own problems). 

We regularly receive donated equipment from retired beekeepers which we sell to course students and our members at significantly reduced costs.  Details are shared as soon as it becomes available.   

Beekeepers are known to have short arms and deep pockets! 

We also run an Informal Mentoring Programme so that new or aspiring beekeepers can learn from the more experienced. If you would like to be mentored or are willing to act as a mentor please email the Mentoring Coordinator.