Tuesday, 11 June 2019

2019 Course Practical

With Photos by John Perring of John Perring Photography.

For the last few years Grantham District Beekeepers have run a beginners course and 2019 was no exception. Over the years we have tweaked things slightly to make it run more smoothly. 

The biggest change we have incorporated into the course is the addition of a ‘practical’ session.
The practical session is really to get people into live beehives but it also gives them the chance to do some frame building, get up close and personal with the equipment used, ask any lingering questions that have surfaced from attending the theory sessions and have the chance to see what being surrounded by the bees feels, hears and looks like.

This year with so many on the course 4 dates were given and luckily for us only one of those was rained off!

With so many people who had little knowledge of beekeeping we always make sure there are two knowledgeable people on site for health and safety reasons and so this year I was joined by Frank, Sarah and John at different sessions.

So the practical starts off at my house where we go over the makeup of the hive and talk about all the different hive parts and discuss any scenarios that may pop up throughout our time as beekeepers. The latter is mostly led by the course participants with questions that they have and it works well as a great discussion. During this time we obviously have a drink and cake!!

Frank discussing the different parts of
the hive.
Frank and I have built up quite a good camaraderie
over the years and aren't afraid to point out when
one says something wrong...or has a different
We are more than happy to go into more detail if
someone would like to go into a topic in more

After a couple of hours discussion then it time to sort out suits and to go visit the hives!!

This year was a little more exciting as it was the first time we could use our own District apiary for the course! It really is a perfect location...roomy enough for everyone to see with a great shed for smoker lighting demonstrations and to go through different equipment you need at the hive.

This is often quite never racking for people who have not
been in hives before...was a little nerve wracking
for Frank too when he remembered his veil
was split....nothing we couldn't fix with a bit
of duct tape though!!
Also on hand were super boxes with drawn and undrawn comb and with and without castellations along with other spare hive equipment, feeders, different hive tools available and queen marking kit.

The district hives are a lovely temperament.
They had built up nicely to let the new beekeepers
see what they will be dealing with next year with a
strong over wintered colony.
Lovely brood patterns for everyone to observe
and a lovely looking queen to be marked.
As is always the case the bees certainly didn’t disappoint !! The queens were spotted at every session which was great for these up and coming beekeepers and then the different sessions gave us different scenarios such as marking the queen, swarm procedure and feeding the bees.

The absence of a blanking board gave us chance to show
totally naturally built comb and how the bees like to
bridge any gaps that may be left by mistake!
Luckily the nice calm colony were perfect hosts
whilst we removed this comb!
Showing the perfect brood pattern we
had discussed before visiting the hives!
Busy bees going about there day!
And this was the point that the first queen cell was
So it was at this point that we then started looking for the queen
in order to carry out swarm control.
Luckily a marked queen is much easier to spot,
even amongst this many bees!!
Once spotted the queen was safely put into a queen clip
and the hive split.
Frames transferred to a new hive....
And the queen introduced back to her now remarkably
smaller colony
The we went through the original hive checking
all the frames and taking off any extra queen cells!
Everyone quickly learnt there is never a dull moment with beekeeping and everyone who attended was thoroughly engaged in the experience and asked many questions about different scenarios that could maybe arise!!

Then it was time to go back and have a go at frame building...this is a time for more questions to be asked...more cake to be eaten and also a few laughs as people try to fathom out where they went wrong and how many pins should be used!

A completed frame!!

Third time lucky??

All of the practical sessions were great days and I would just like to thank all the 2019 course participants for not just their enthusiasm to the practical sessions but for choosing to take this step with Grantham District.

I would also like to thank Sarah and Frank for helping out with the practicals and John for helping out and taking the photos.