Phil Edwards’ 2019 Beginners Course

Phil Edwards

I cannot recommend the beginners course enough to anyone considering keeping bees or who has just started keeping them.

I bought my hives after the first session (after the advice was given at that session) and when I had one set up (another session), I bought a colony of bees from a HWBKA member - John Preston. This started my adventure of keeping bees....

One thing we learned quite early on was the importance of a poly nuc. However, I was convinced by my environmentally minded daughter not to use polystyrene; so (against the expert advice) I built my own nuc out of left over wood - just in case I needed one. This turned out to be very fortuitous.

Throughout the course not only did we learn about the detail of keeping bees but we learned what to do when things go in an unexpected direction. In my case we did an artificial swarm but for a couple of months we were unable to keep a queen in the new colony. I learned a great deal from the efforts made and the support given to introduce a new queen. In fact my bees killed the introduced Queen! However as I had collected (in my homemade nuc) a small cast which appeared in my garden, Malcolm threw out the bees intent on reginicide, dusted them with icing sugar, transferred the cast to the hive and somehow (I still don’t understand how) performed a miracle. So I now have two colonies preparing for the winter. None of this would have been managed without attending the course or without the support of tutors and my bee buddy.

I managed to adapt my year so that I could attend each session and it was well worthwhile not to miss a week. At times it can be important to prioritise the bees but usually they fitted round work commitments.

One of the highlights of the course is the bee safari which involved visiting other beginners apiaries and learning from the way in which they kept their bees and from the difficulties they faced both in the past and on that day!

Another highlight was extraction day when we learned the practical side of extraction and I was delighted to be able to extract a few pounds of my own honey which I had not been expecting in my first year of keeping bees.

Malcolm and his co-tutors are an inspirational team for starting on the beekeeping experience.