BBKA Module 1 – Study Group

After the success of the recent joint Module 2 “Honey Bee Products and Forage” study group, involving both Reigate and Croydon BKA (divisions of Surrey BKA), a few participants got the bug, and now feel inspired to set up another study group, this time for Module 1, “Honey Bee Management”.

Once again, this will be a joint venture between Croydon and Reigate BKAs, and is supported and endorsed by both Associations.

Anna Slade writes …

The objective of this study group is to offer the opportunity to study, and gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of: hive types; selecting apiaries; prevention and detection of swarming; methods of swarm control; seasonal management; signs of queen status – these are just a few of the topics covered in the syllabus.  

Who is Module 1 ideally for? Well, anyone who has kept bees for more than one year, and preferably has completed (or is working towards) the Basic Practical Assessment (BPA), is welcome to participate in this group. Module 1 complements the BPA, but is best completed afterwards, building on the foundations of the BPA to widen and deepen the knowledge gained. It’s a logical step for those who have taken their BPA to move on to modular learning, and many undertake Module 1 first, although the modules can be taken in any order (except for Module 8, which has to be taken last). In this study group, we intend to complete the Module 1 syllabus in time to take the exam in November 2022, although there is no obligation to sit the exam.

Those also taking the BPA need not be too concerned to the depth Module 1 goes into for their preparation for the practical exam; however there are many synergies between the Module 1 syllabus and the BPA, so your practical learning will complement your theoretical learning in Module 1. 

There is NO financial cost to you as a participant, as long as you are a current member of either Reigate or Croydon BKA. However there is a cost in terms of your time and your participation in assisting group learning, whilst also respecting others in the group, as those leading, presenting or assisting are all volunteers, each one at a different stage in their beekeeping journey, and many juggling full-time jobs and families.

The course arrangements are as follows:

  • Weekly meetings on Tuesday evenings at 8pm, on Zoom (cost to be met by Croydon BKA), led by Anna Slade
  • The first meeting will be on Tuesday 17th May at 8pm
  • Zoom recordings and study notes available for review for those who can’t make the weekly meetings, or are busy with their bees!
  • Shared participation in a correspondence course (cost to be met by Reigate BKA)
  • Access to resources on Dropbox (courtesy of Keith Mackie), where we can share presentations, study notes, past exam papers, and resources from previous groups
  • A WhatsApp group (managed by the Module 1 Leadership Team) where we can ask for, and share, advice and support, including from RBKA Master Beekeepers and more experienced members
  • Access to study materials from RBKA and CBKA libraries

If you are interested, or have any questions, please contact Keith Mackie on 07786 024325 or, Debbie Burney on 07810 172938 or, or Anna Slade on 07947 431053 or

Thank you for your interest, and we look forward to studying with you!

Kind regards

The Module 1 Leadership Team (formed of RBKA and CBKA members)



BBKA Module 2 – Study Group

Ever thought about how to produce better quality honeybee products & what our bees forage on?

Then join a Joint Surrey BKA Division Study Group.

16 brave souls from both Croydon and Reigate BKAs have already teamed up to study for the BBKA Module 2 – Honeybee Products & Forage. 

Keith Mackie writes …

The intention is to undertake the exam in March 2022, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to, and don’t be shy about coming along and joining the study group on Zoom.  The plan is to do fortnightly study groups on a Monday, from 8pm till 9:30pm, working through the syllabus of this module. 

Debbie Burney, Alexandra Collins, and myself are coordinating the groups progress through the theory of this course, culminating in what we hope will be most of the group taking the exam.  We plan that different members of the group, will present sections of the syllabus to the others in the group; to share the work and as a group work together using shared research notes. 

Croydon BKA (CBKA) has kindly funded the BBKA correspondence course & Zoom facility for the Study Group.  The correspondence course provides sample exam papers to be completed and submitted to an outside assessor for marking and annotation, providing a wonderfully complete set of answers which can then be used for revision and exam practice.  The revision / study notes will be compiled to create an array of study material which will then be available to CBKA’s members for their use in future years. 

It was discovered this week that an updated syllabus is being launched for the 2022 exams, with extra points added! These include the development history of extraction equipment, management of bee colonies for honey production from specialist crops, honey granulation and the properties and use of honey for wound care. 

The first three fortnightly sessions will cover the following topics:

  1. 18-Oct-21 (Week 1) – Debbie Burney will cover the main requirements of the current UK statutory regulations affecting the handling, preparation for sale, hygiene, composition, labelling and weight of packs of honey.
  2. 01 Nov-21 (Week 2)  – Alexandra Collins will talk about the methods used to uncap honeycombs and separating the wax cappings from honey, types of honey extractor available and their methods of use, including the history and design of the equipment, management of bee colonies for home production from specialist crops such as OSR, ling heather, along with straining and settling of honey after extraction.
  3. 15-Nov-21 (Week 3) – Anna Slade will cover the storage of honey, together with the preparation and bottling of liquid, naturally granulated, soft set and seeded honey as well as the preparation of section, cut-comb and chunk honey for sale, together with the theory of the process of honey granulation.

Further weeks will cover general topics such as the constituents of honey and beeswax, the use of other bee products, the main nectar and pollen producing plants of the UK and so on. 

The BBKA exams can now be taken at home under strict guidelines as well as at exam centres, which means that no travel time or costs need be incurred.  Those who took Modules earlier this year will be interested to know that the computer portal which ensured no internet access during the exam has been updated, requiring a new set of software protocols to be installed, but we can worry about this in the new year!,

Keith Mackie


Improve your Beekeeping

Learning Steps (2)We know that taking and passing the Basic Assessment or that just being a member of the Basic Assessment study group will help you to become a competent bee keeper.  After that though the direction you want to take with your bee keeping varies a lot.  Some will want to study and take the BBKA modules and even become a master beekeeper and others may want to follow their own direction.

In order to support members, we will endeavour to find the appropriate support for you as an individual or even better, as groups of members that would like to develop a particular skill.

To that end we encourage members to form groups around a particular topic and if you let us know what it is you are trying to improve, we will do our best to find a knowledgeable member to support you in that topic.

To start the process we would like to set members challenges and hope that self-selecting groups can then form around a particular challenge.   The challenges below are just a starting point, any topic is a valid topic.

Some Ideas for Challenges for 2021

    1. Learn one method of queen rearing suitable for the 3-5 hive beekeeper
    2. Take out a nuc for swarm control use BBKA text
    3. Swarm control without finding queen Use FERA Text
    4. Use Waring/Wilson to generate a new Queen use RBKA description
    5. Shake colony onto clean comb use FERA text
    6. Make a Taranov swarm use RBKA notes
    7. Get a Miller frame drawn for use in a queen raising colony use RBKA notes
    8. Use Snelgrove Procedure, a) for swarm prevention b) for swarm control
    9. Get brood box full of stores for winter using Wally Shaw recommendations
    10. Produce a photo of nosema


Mike Hill is planning on creating a brood box which has half of the frames 22mm wide and the other half 27mm which he hopes will show how 22mm spacing encourages brace comb. Mike has the necessary handouts on file for anyone interested in doing the same.

It would be great to hear about the progress of groups at our weekly meetings, with information on how to carry out, say queen rearing, being shared and produced, hopefully including photographs and videos to pass on to other members

Jim Wynn,

BBKA Autumn Exams & Assessments

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The BBKA Exam Board has issued the following statement regarding the exams and assessments due to take place this Autumn (2020).  

  (The notice will also appear on the website and social media and in the BBKA News.)

‘The global outbreak of COVID-19 has meant that we have had to limit socialising and gatherings, to help prevent the spread of this disease. Inevitably, this has had a huge impact on the BBKA exam system, that relies on candidates, assessors, and invigilators to meet in close proximity or travel some distance away from home.

 Following the feedback from many associations and individuals on the matter, we have taken the difficult decision to cancel the BBKA assessments for the remaining part of 2020. These include Show Judge certificate in October as well as Module exams and Microscopy assessments in November.

The main concern of the Exam Board is the safety of all candidates, assessors and invigilators. While some associations have indicated that they may be able to facilitate the Module exams, others have advised against it. We want to offer equal opportunities to all members who wish to take the BBKA exams. With the current situation however, we do not feel this is achievable for all involved.

Candidates who have applied for assessments in 2020 will get free transfer for 2021, or get their fees refunded if they prefer. Due to the cancellations of the exams, the condition that candidates need to have taken all Modules within 12 years of the first module taken has now been removed.  

We know how much value beekeepers put on the BBKA exam system. To support those who continue on their learning journey, we are exploring alternative ways to hold the Module exams and hope to have solution in place for the early part of 2021.’

BBKA Exam Applications – Registration Closing Dates

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Registration to take

Modules and Assessments

need to be submitted 


The application details [click here] can be found on the BBKA website (You need to be logged into the BBKA website to view)

Application forms for March 2020 Module Exams …

need to be with Celia Perry by Wednesday 5th February.  

Application forms for 2020 Assessments in Honeybee Health, General Husbandry & Advanced Husbandry …

need to be with Celia Perry by Friday 21st February.  

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Completed forms and cheques payable to ‘BBKA’ should be given or posted in good time to:- Celia Perry – County Exam Secretary 

For the postal address, or if you have any related queries, please contact Celia either by phone; on 07903 991120 or by email at;

Please do not leave it until the last minute to send in your form and cheque, because all the forms and payments still need to be forwarded, by Celia, to the National Beekeeping Centre at Stoneleigh within a week of the above deadlines.

NDB Short Course – Adult Bee Diseases

RBKA Member Adam Leitch NDB  and Kent Beekeeper Bob Smith NDB are running a microscopy and disease workshop at Henfold on the Sat. 7th and Sun. 8th March 2020.

This 2 day course is subsidised by DEFRA under the Health Bees Plan and is the last one due to the cessation of the subsidy* in March.

The course concentrates on the common adult bee diseases, principally Nosema, Acarine, Amoeba and certain viruses.

The purpose is to send students away having increased their understanding of the causes of these diseases, having practised their diagnosis, and able to make informed recommendations as to treatment options. We will discuss the nature and life cycle of the causative organisms to understand in detail how, where and why the diseases take hold. Treatments old and new are discussed and compared, including non-chemical management techniques. Some general anatomy is covered so it is ideal for any students undertaking the BBKA Microscopy, General & Advanced Husbandry or Module 3/5.

 * Early-bird bookings for students from England & Wales are discounted to £88, standard bookings are £103

The course is of interest to all beekeepers mixing theory, anatomy, microscope work and disease knowledge. The course can be booked via the NDB Website or on the link below. Just 10 places are available.  

NDB Short Course – Handling Skills


Looking to kick start your beekeeping skills and knowledge for 2019?

Reigate member, Adam Leitch, National Diploma in Beekeeping (NDB) and Tony Harris NDB (Scottish Beekeepers) are teaching a short course “Handling Skills” on Sunday 12th May and Monday 13th May 2019 at Reigate’s Training Apiary, in Surrey.

An ‘Early-Bird’ discount applies, so the 2 days of training & lunch is £88 if booked early.

The course details, and all other information including booking can be found on the link below:

NDB Short Courses are aimed at all beekeepers, to assist you in developing your own bee handling capabilities and knowledge, and are open to all. The courses are subsidised by FERA, and provide an intensive, but fun mixture of beekeeping theory & practice, and are both classroom and apiary based, with lots of opportunities for questions and participation. The courses will equip you with skills to manage and understand your own bees better, whether you are just looking to get more enjoyment from your beekeeping and develop your skills to make beekeeping more enjoyable and easier, or you are taking BBKA exams, and looking to learn best practices from expert tutors.

For details of all upcoming NDB Short Courses visit the NDB website

BBKA Honey Bee Health Certificate – RBKA Study Group 2019

To facilitate RBKA members taking the Honey Bee Health Certificate next year, plans have been drawn up to use the pavilion at Henfold for a study group to get to grips with the theory side of the syllabus.

Convenor: Andrew Cornwall, RBKA Education Coordinator

Target Membership:

Primary requirement:

Only open to RBKA Members (any category of membership) who already hold the BBKA Basic assessment.


Any member who would like to understand more about honey bee pests & diseases and take this stand alone certificate (N.B. NOT part of the route to Master Beekeeper);


Any member who is planning on taking the BBKA General Husbandry assessment within the next two years.

Meeting Dates: [Read more…]

After “The Basic” – What Next?

bee readingThe BBKA Basic Assessment is an enabling exam that all beekeepers should plan to take within their first few years of beekeeping. But what happens next?               

Until this year, other than simply practicing what you have learnt to date, the next formal qualification options would have been to … study for the academically focused BBKA Theory Modules, … work towards the Microscopy Certificate, … or to prepare for the more practical BBKA’s General Husbandry Assessment. To take all of these you need to have passed the Basic Assessment.

From 2018 there will also two new practical assessments which are intended to help beekeepers achieve a better awareness of the needs of honey bees and their management. They are ‘Honeybee Health’ and ‘Breeding Honey Bees’.  [Read more…]

After the Basic – What Next?

bee readingThe BBKA Basic Assessment is an enabling exam that frankly all beekeepers should plan to take within their first few years of beekeeping. But what happens next?

                Andrew Cornwall offers a personal insight into                      how he is approaching and tackling this question …

I don’t want to keep repeating my first few years of beekeeping over & over again. I want to learn more theory & practice.

To some extent I can do this by reading at home & going along to Henfold. [Read more…]