I have just completed the 2019 beginner’s course, having been interested in keeping bees for a while. Despite living outside the local area of the association, I was welcomed into the course and was supported by Malcolm and the other tutors.
I found the lessons, and the lesson content, to be well-structured and thought out; they provided a range of information which was related to the bee-keeping tasks associated with the time of year, with lots of experiential and practical tasks to help to consolidate my learning.
Due to where I live and the less rural setting, I had nowhere to keep my bees, and Malcom put me in touch with someone who had completed the course the previous year, who allowed me to site my hive on his land. Malcolm also supported me in procuring my bees from another tutor, Lesley, as well as providing me with his wealth of knowledge during this time to support me in installing my hive, given that I had no previous experience and had not even opened a hive at this point due to the famous British weather!
While my bee-buddy was able to support initially and let me visit and experience opening and inspecting a hive, unfortunately, personal circumstances prevented him from supporting me for the duration of the course. It would have been nice to have a back-up bee buddy in this event, but, living outside the local area of my association made this more difficult. Nevertheless, using Malcolm’s endless support, in addition to the support from my group via WhatsApp, and many hours watching other beekeepers on YouTube, I successfully managed to create the right conditions for my hive to thrive!
I also turned to the group WhatsApp for support when I realised my hive was about to swarm. Due to a misunderstanding about my hive setup, I split my hive, but positioned them wrongly and had to return many times in the same evening to correct this. Despite this and other hiccups along the way, my bees were very productive and I collected (stole) 16 pounds of honey, of which I only have two left thanks to friends and family!!
I would definitely recommend this course to anyone thinking about keeping bees. There are other courses available which only provide a day’s training, which in my experience and opinion, would be nowhere near sufficient. I would also recommend getting your bees from a reputable source, otherwise you risk the spread of disease between bees if you don’t know where they come from. Finally, I would like to thank Malcolm, Lesley, and his team of tutors, for all their hard work, dedication and support, which has been invaluable to me thought the course.
Here’s hoping to many more years of successful bee-keeping!