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…]

Basic Syllabus

The content of ‘Basic Beekeeping” follows the syllabus of the BBKA “Basic Assessment Syllabus” and is now divided into 4 main subject categories

  1. Manipulation and Equipment
  2. Natural History and Beekeeping 
  3. Swarming, Swarm Control and Effects
  4. Diseases and Pests

All of the above content can also be accessed from [Read more…]

Tips on the Basic Practical

16 tips to help you get through the Basic Practical Assessment.

  • Ensure you attend with a clean bee suit and gloves!
  • Clean your hive tools and gloves before & after, in the bucket of washing soda provided
  • Light smoker, use best fuel and take time to ensure it will last for 30 minutes
  • When approaching the hive and before smoking, check entrance for activity, if pollen is being brought in comment on it (it suggests brood is in the hive). Also confirm the orientation of the brood box (warm or cold) & take an inspection position at the hive accordingly. When inspecting you should stand either behind or to the side of the hive depending upon whether the brood frames are warm or, cold way. This avoids twisting your body to lift frames.
  • Give a few puffs of smoke at the entrance and around the lid. Take your time before opening the hive. Use smoker gently & sparingly.
  • Open hive and gently remove any supers on to the up turned roof, to one side of the hive. Place cover board on top of supers to keep bees quiet and reduce chance of bees from other colonies discovering the honey.
  • Remove queen excluder, check to see if queen on underside (if she is there, remove her into a clip & into your pocket for safety for the duration of the inspection). Place queen excluder to the side of the hive close to entrance.
  • Working from the nearest to you, remove the first frame and check if brood present on it. If not, gently place on the ground in front of the hive. If brood present, suggest to the assessor you start from the other end and replace the frame. Talk your way through what you are doing & why.
  • You may be asked to state if the hive is top or bottom bee space. Top bee space: there is ¼ inch gap between the top of the frames & the top of the brood/super box; bottom bee space: the top of the frames are flush with the top of the brood/super box.
  • You will be asked to identify eggs, larvae and brood (worker and drone).
  • You will need to identify stores and pollen, stating if you believe there are sufficient stores.
  • Finding the queen is not essential but, you will need to find evidence (all stages of brood) and should state that.
  • If asked to show how you would examine a frame for disease…….Shake bees off a frame (but, make sure you choose one without  the queen on it) by placing the frame in the space in the brood box (if required give yourself more room by removing another frame but, ensure the queen is not on it) and jerk the frame downwards avoiding knocking it on the sides or, other frames. Repeat until all or, nearly all, bees removed.  Describe what you are looking for and explain what you would expect to see if there was healthy brood.
  • If asked to take a sample of bees for disease testing……. You are looking for older bees, these will be bees furthest from the brood area (usually the outer frames);  Use a match box & open the match box and hold it against the frame. Gently run the open end of the matchbox along the frame and then close up the match box. A sample of approximately 30 bees is required for disease testing.
  • Gently close up the hive when the assessor requests you to.
  • Use smoke regularly (gently puff) to keep the bees in the hive.