I have been keeping bees for five years and enjoying both the successes and disasters. So far I have only lost one colony and that was quickly replaced by a swarm that took up residence in the empty hive. My problem was that I was doing it all from books and YouTube videos and I was increasingly aware that I needed to learn the basics properly. After a few years of trial and error I had reached the stage where I knew just about enough to appreciate that I needed to meet some experienced beekeepers who could give me decent advice. Malcolm’s beginners course was perfect. It did cover some ground that was already familiar but this was always useful – sometimes reassuring and sometimes absolutely horrifying as I realised how badly wrong I had gone in some areas. What was particularly useful was spending time with other learners as we all asked the obvious, and not so obvious, questions. As the course progressed we spent a lot of time in the apiary and it was fascinating to see experienced beekeepers calmly working with their bees and analysing what they saw in every hive.
Unfortunately I missed a number of sessions because of work and family commitments. This was far from ideal but I was always able to catch up at least some of what I had missed by asking Malcolm, the tutors or my fellow learner beekeepers. Even though I couldn’t make it to every session the course has totally transformed my approach to keeping bees and my enjoyment of beekeeping. It gave me the opportunity to get hands-on experience with a range of different colonies and to see how different beekeepers solve problems along the way. There is a lot to learn but the teaching and practical exercises are done with good humour and immense patience. My knowledge and confidence really improved but, above all, I found it inspiring to be part of a group of people all learning about bees and sharing their worries, questions, knowledge and enthusiasm with each other. Beekeepers are a generous and passionate bunch of people and this course is a wonderful introduction to their world.