RBKA Training – Mentoring Groups

With the first signs of Spring, we are planning the apiary meetings for Wednesday evenings at Henfold, commencing from the 5th April.

Janet Kay has summarized our four mentoring groups that will be lead this year by herself, Colin Clement, Keith Mackie & Trevor Keast.

1. Beginners

This group is for new/starting out beekeepers, aimed at people who are in their first year of beekeeping. You probably don’t have your own bees, may never have looked inside a beehive and/or are considering starting with bees later this year with either 1 or 2 colonies. We also look forward to welcoming all who have been on Reigate’s Winter Beekeeping course with David Rudland.
Lead by Janet Kay, the aim of this group is a very practical, hands-on, introduction to the fascinating world of beekeeping. We will be covering the elementary principles and most importantly, will teach you good habits from the beginning. By the end of the year, we aim to have you confidently handling bees with a reasonable understanding of bee’s behaviour, types of bees and what is going on in the hive on a
seasonal basis.

2. Basics

This group is aimed at the second year of beekeeping and last year’s beginners will form the bulk of this group. The BBKA Basic Assessment delivered by RBKA is described as the ‘driving test’ for beekeepers, which is a very good analogy because like the driving test, it is a practical and oral assessment, but it does require a level of competency and knowledge to pass.
The ‘Basics’ is a very valuable qualification because it shows the world e.g. owners of land where you wish to have an out apiary, allotment holders, neighbours, that you have the experience and knowledge to keep bees safely.
This group is lead by Colin Clement and assisted by Jim Cooper, who will support you through the ‘Basics’ with practical sessions on Wednesdays at the Henfold apiary plus an hour on Zoom each week to explain the theory.
Taking the assessment is not mandatory but the vast majority of beekeepers at the club have the ‘Basics’ under their belt and with the fantastic support of Colin and Jim we have a 100% pass rate.

3. Improvers

Having learned the Basics, this group is for those with 3+ years of experience.
Lead by Keith Mackie, the aim of this group is to consolidate your existing knowledge and explore in more detail whatever the group is interested in, or is finding difficult.
Possible examples:

  1. Disease prevention, control, and comb change
  2. Post & Preventative Swarm Control
  3. Making an increase & uniting (amateur beekeeper)
  4. Creating nucs and apideas
  5. Manipulations when you can’t find the queen, or dealing with an aggressive colony
  6. Marking and clipping the queen

4. Advanced

This group is aimed at beekeepers who have been coming to Henfold for 4+ years and have probably got
more than 2 hives. Again, this group will be exploring and experimenting with topics that are of interest to the group and will be lead by Trevor Keast.
Possible topics:

  1. Vertical Splits for Post & Preventative Swarm Control
  2. Disease Control, Inspections and treatment
  3. Running a production hive to maximise the honey
  4. Making increases and Queen Rearing
  5. Minimal intervention, Varroa Resistance, Wild Colonies & Bait Hives

– Tutors

None of the above will be possible without the help of Reigate beekeepers volunteering as tutors. We are hoping that our wealth of experienced beekeepers will step forward to volunteer. Also we would like to pair up less experienced beekeepers as a second in command to cover for holidays and to learn on the job to tutor in future years.
If you are able to help please email me at and let me know a bit about yourself e.g. number of hives, number of years keeping bees and if you have a preference which group you would like to mentor.
Janet Kay
RBKA Education Co-ordinator

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 keith@mrmackie.com, Debbie Burney on 07810 172938 or debbie@mrsburneysbeeclub.co.uk, or Anna Slade on 07947 431053 or annaslade@virginmedia.com.

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


BBKA Autumn Exams & Assessments

Teacher Bee Icon

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

Teacher Bee Icon

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.  

Teacher Bee Icon 2

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; beeexams@hotmail.co.uk

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.

Module Passes

Thumbs_UpCongratulations to Keith Mackie and Trevor Keast for their achievements in the November 2018 sessions of BBKA Written Module Examinations.

  • Keith was successful in passing Module 1, Honeybee Management.
  • Trevor was successful in passing both Module 1, Honeybee Management and Module 2, Honeybee Products & Forage. 



Module 1 Paper Nov 2018 – Sample Answer Paper

Andrew Cornwall has written a sample answer paper to the November 2018 Module 1 paper.

The content of the document is provided  in an endeavour to add more support for members embarking on the BBKA module exams. 

Click on the icon to open the pdf file

Registering for BBKA Modules & Assessments

Planning to sit Module exams or undergo Assessments this year?

Closing Dates for completed registration forms, with payments or proof of payments as appropriate, for entries to take BBKA Module exams and Assessments in 2019 to have been RECEIVED by Celia Perry ( beeexams@hotmail.co.uk ) … are:

  • Modules taken in March 2019 –  register by 3rd February 2019
  • Modules taken in November 2019 –  register by 23rd September 2019
  • Honey Bee Health assessment in 2019 – register by 21st February 2019
  • General Husbandry assessment in 2019 – register by 21st February 2019
  • Advanced Husbandry assessment in 2019 – register by 21st February 2019

Visit BBKA website for Registration forms and details of fees and payment methods.


Do you want to take a module exam?

Whilst it is still recommended that you pass the Basic Assessment before attempting any of the written modules, from March 2019, you will be able to take a module without having passed the basic Assessment.

Up until now, if you wanted to take one of the written module exams, you had to first pass the Basic Assessment.

The BBKA Examination Board has taken this decision in the interests of inclusivity, to enable those people who, for whatever reason are unable to keep bees, to go through the module system if they wish.
You will still need to have passed the Basic Assessment if you want to take any of the practical assessments such as the Honey Bee Health Certificate.

Celia Perry
Surrey BKA Exam Secretary
BBKA Examination Board member

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…]

Module 1 Recommended* Reading List

reading-listThe resources that Andrew Cornwall found useful during his preparation for taking Module 1 are presented here as his *personally recommended reading list.

To read Andrew’s helpful and entertaining account of that preparation (click here)   

[Read more…]