Jean Aardweg’s 2018 Beginners Course

Jean Aardweg

The beginners’ course and starting my own apiary has been exciting and life changing in so many ways. When I signed up I was advised about the time and commitment that would be required for keeping bees, but this only became a reality when my first colony arrived! For some this may be a deterrent, and should be, but for me, it has lured me in with greater enthusiasm as I’ve learned just how intricate and complex a superorganism of bees really are.

 I was away during the month of April and into May (not recommended when bee keeping), so I was last on the list for a Nucleus. Hence in June, I took on a caste which I collected from a neighbor and despite it being small, they’ve been a great success. They’ve become feisty to say the least, so I’m hoping that when I open up in Spring they’ve adopted their calm and gentle temperament once again. I got a strong 6 frame Nucleus from Peter Halford a few weeks later. They’ve continued to flourish and have been a pleasure over the months. They’re going into winter healthy and strong with a full super of honey!

 I’ve been fortunate to have had excellent support from Peter Coxon, my bee buddy. His experienced input has been invaluable over the past few months. I’ve learned that no matter how much time and study you put in, there will always be different scenarios that as a new beekeeper are difficult to answer with complete confidence.

 I spent an afternoon visiting Peter’s apiary where we inspected most of his hives. It was a warm sunny afternoon, and it was really during this ‘hands on’ work in a lovely calm environment that a lot of my theory came together. The perfect end to our course, and a highlight for many, was our day extracting honey at Deborah Park’s house. Hot, sticky and teaming with bees, we managed to extract every frame of honey brought in, and see the excitement for those beginners who took away their own golden jars of pure delight!


 There are a few things that have made the course unique and unforgettable. Our wonderful group! Firstly, our tutor, Malcolm Wilkie, who apart from being a phenomenal teacher, has kept us entertained and humored throughout. Keith Obbard and Steve Davies have been present on most of our Apiary visits, and have imparted huge amounts of knowledge with such generosity. Our group has been lovely to work with, and their enthusiasm and willingness to help one another has been invaluable, especially for those who’ve experienced difficulties along the way.

 All in all, keeping bees has been a wonderful and fascinating addition to my life and I look forward to growing my Apiary with care and caution.