One of the most frequent enquiries we get is "I am interested in keeping bees, how do I get started?"

Step 1
We highly recommend you start by doing our Beekeeping Beginners Theory Course which takes place around January each year.  Even with all the books and the power of the internet/YouTube, getting structure theory from a bee farmer and quizzing beekeepers builds you knowledge very quickly.  This should be followed by hands learning practical techniques - step 2.

Step 2
A very good beekeeping practical course is run by Berkshire Agricultural College at Burchetts Green near Maidenhead.  This runs from around April/May time each year, BUT BOOK EARLY due to over subscription.  This will prepare you to actually start keeping bees that same year.  Orders for a nucleus (NUC) of bees should normally be placed with the bee supplier during the winter of the year before you want to keep bees. (Oct-Jan)

Step 3
If you have missed both of the above, then you can still build your knowledge, have fun with bees and make progress towards keeping bees :

I.    Join Reading Beekeeping Association or other association as a Country member for £16
By joining as a Country member means you can attend the 2014 summer apiary visits.  By attending you :
  • get to learn practical techniques by watching a bee hive inspection up close
  • get to have a go at frame manipulation alongside the experienced beekeeper
  • talk, listen and ask lots of questions of other experience beekeepers
  • brings theory, opinions and practise together
II.    Register your interest for our 2015 course by emailing Giles

Step 4
To keep bees you need to be a Full Member of a beekeeping association which entitles you to bee disease insurance (BDI) - see Membership page.
If you have attended the Reading Beekeeping Association Beginners Theory Course and join Reading Beekeepers Association, you can go on the Reading Swarm Collection register. During the summer we collect swarms reported to us by the public and deliver them to our beginner beekeepers on the register.  This helps our beginners get bees to look after and gives swarms perfect homes to live in - hive. See Swarm pages. To keep bees you would need to upgrade from Country to Full Membership to ensure you have BDI insurance.

Beebase Guidance
Very useful link is from Beebase :

Basic Exam
To further your knowledge, you should consider taking the BBKA Basic Exam.  You must have managed one colony for at least a minimum of 12 months to qualify taking the exam.

See Basic Assessment files below.

For further information please see the BBKA website

Giles McLoughlin,
22 Feb 2016, 07:42
Giles McLoughlin,
22 Feb 2016, 07:44
Giles McLoughlin,
22 Feb 2016, 07:42