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Gormanston Summer School 2015

A brilliant week of beekeeping

The Federation of Irish Beekeepers' Associations (FIBKA) Summer School will be held from Sun 26 July - Fri 31 July 2015. Details can be found on the Gormanston page of the FIBKA website.

This is a very pleasant and productive way to spend a few days for all beekeepers, whatever their ability. There is something for everyone with 3 streams most of the time and a diverse programme of workshops. There is plenty of time to chat to other beekeepers and this can be productive too. You learn a lot in the food queue!

Dave Cushman was a regular attendee and occasional lecturer. He never hesitated in recommending it and I have the same view. There is always a guest lecturer of international renown. Being brutally honest I am often disappointed with their performance, but the quality of the support speakers is usually excellent. There will be many other lecturers and demonstrators, mainly Irish, but they invite English, Scottish and Welsh too. I don't quite know the procedure for selecting speakers, but I believe all Irish speakers are holders of the FIBKA Lecturers certificate. Those from outside Ireland are usually established speakers.

The programme is not usually finalised until the spring, but it would be worth booking ASAP, as there is a limit on accommodation. Many book a year in advance. It is incredibly good value as everything is included in the cost, and is highly recommended. Quite frankly I am more than happy to advise a first timer, especially an outsider, to book before the programme is published. This should help with cheaper travel.

As with other things it will take the first timer a little time to get up to speed, but the following may help.

Select the accommodation you prefer. This is very basic, that I find adequate, but I don't complain much. There is segregation of the sexes because it is either small rooms with cubicles or dormitory. Outside accommodation is available. The cost is for full board, which is what I have and I know I will not go hungry!

The full week starts from dinner at 5.0pm on Sunday and finishes after dinner at 1.0pm on Friday, so time your transport to suit.

Travel from outside Ireland is by ferry or air. I have no experience of the former, but there is information on the FIBKA website. Attendees will have to make their own way from the airport. In 2014 I got a bus no 101 from zone 11 that is immediately outside the main airport entrance. You need to ask to be dropped off at "The Huntsman", which is a journey of about 45 minutes. When you get off the bus walk down the lane by the side of The Huntsman and the college is on the right after walking for 10 minutes.

On arrival you pay €22 deposit on your room key, so bring Euros with you. There are a few appliance dealers and the opportunity to visit The Huntsman in the evening, so cash is always useful.

There are live bees, so protection is advisable.

Roger Patterson.