What is the ‘Basic’ about?

Teacher Bee IconYou’ll hear people talk about ‘doing the Basic’ and you might wonder what it is all about. Celia Perry explains …

The Basic Assessment  is set by the BBKA and if you pass, it demonstrates to the rest of the world that you have reached a certain level of competency in beekeeping. 

It has been compared with the driving test. But just as you can throw away your L plates on passing, it doesn’t mean you know everything there is to know about driving (or beekeeping). If you want to keep your bees on land belonging to someone else or on allotments, you may be asked to show you have achieved a certain standard and this is it.

In order to take the Basic you must have managed a colony of bees for a minimum of one year. This doesn’t mean you have to have your own bees; if you have or will have attended Henfold Copse regularly during 2016 and 2017 and taken part in a tutor group you will meet this requirement.

The assessment generally lasts about an hour and is a one-to-one with the assessor. You will be asked to go through a hive to show the assessor that you can recognise worker bees, identify the different parts of the hive, keep the smoker going and if there are drones in the hive that you can identify them. The assessor will ask you about what you see in the hive, then you will close up the hive and sit down with the assessor who will ask you some questions on a variety of subjects including diseases, swarming, how honey is extracted from the comb … to name a few. You will also be asked to make up a frame with foundation.

Assessors are experienced beekeepers who give up their time and who want candidates to pass. There are no trick questions and if you can’t think of an answer they will try to tease it out of you. Although we have some assessors within RBKA, they can’t take Reigate candidates, so we arrange for assessors from other beekeeping groups to take our assessments.

Mock Basic - 2012So that you know what to expect, Bob Maurer holds a Mock Basic on a Saturday morning at Henfold Copse when someone will go through a hive in front of everyone else and Bob will ask the sort of questions a candidate would be expected to answer during a hive inspection. Then everyone sits down in a group with a cup of tea or coffee and there is a run through of other questions that can’t be asked at the hive.

It isn’t essential to attend the Mock Basic if you want to take the Basic this year, but everyone who has come along to the Mock Basic in past years has found it a valuable experience and it will give you the confidence of knowing what to expect on the day.

This year (2017) the Mock Basic will be held on Saturday 17th June and the Basic Assessment will be on Saturday 15th July. 

Have a look at the BBKA Basic syllabus (click here); there is nothing that you can’t do – have a go. Lots of Reigate members have taken the Basic assessment, so there are lots of people you can ask if you have any questions.

If you want to take the Basic Assessment, you need to fill in an application form, copies of which may be available at Henfold Copse on a Wednesday night or you can otherwise download one directly from the BBKA website (click here).

I will need your completed application form no later than Saturday 17th June if you want to take your Basic this year, but if you can let me have it earlier that would be very helpful. I will be at the apiary most Wednesday evenings. Applications need to be submitted either with a cheque payable to BBKA for £20.00, or if you would rather pay by credit card, you can do that by first ringing BBKA HQ on 02476 696 679. You will need to say you want to pay for the Basic Assessment. They will take your credit card details and give you a receipt number which you need to write on the application form before you give it to me.

Most people who have taken the Basic say they have learnt something from the Assessor on the day.

Give it a try. If you aren’t sure about taking it and want to know more, ask me or any of the Hive Mentors on a Wednesday night.

Celia Perry

Also visit this website’s own Knowledge Base for supporting information about the Basic Syllabus (click here) and Tips on the Basic Practical (click here) and look under Education for Reigate Beekeepers Basic Syllabus Notes used during our Practical Training at Henfold (click here)

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