An annual event for non-beekeepers and beginners
This course, held in February or March, is a full day event that will provide the potential beekeeper with all they need to know in order to start beekeeping. It will also suit the beginner who has already started, but has little or no knowledge, or who has had poor advice and is struggling. The first year we ran it we did it over several evenings, but we found there were two problems, firstly people were often busy and some couldn't come to every session and secondly, those who decided that beekeeping wasn't for them at a fairly early stage had already committed themselves for several weeks.
The programme has been well planned by a beekeeper with over 50 years experience who has been teaching beekeeping for over 40 years. It is based on real experience, not simply teaching what others know straight out of a book or training manual. It will be presented by Wisborough Green Teaching Apiary Manager Roger Patterson and Tom Moore, both very experienced demonstrators and lecturers. Apart from a few specialist subjects, all the photos in the presentation have been taken by Roger Patterson in real situations, not downloaded from the internet, as many in some courses are.
This annual course is well established in the beekeeping calendar and is probably the largest in the country. It has not been slapped together quickly to take advantage of the current interest in beekeeping. In 2009 the venue capacity was reached some time before the event and a second session was hastily arranged - 194 attendees in total! Every year there are many attendees who come from some distance away, either because they have been recommended by previous attendees, there are no courses in their area, or they are full.
The very reasonable cost includes a buffet lunch, refreshments and our own booklet that is packed with sound and useful information. At break times there will be a number of beekeepers in attendance to honestly answer your questions. They will not be on a "hard sell" mission, because we don't operate like that.
There are many people who have always thought they might like to keep bees, but are not sure what is involved or if beekeeping is for them. This course will suit them well and we have performed a service whether we can give attendees a little help to get them going, or to convince them they are unable to make the commitment that bees require. We do NOT paint a fluffy picture of beekeeping to deliberately attract you to the craft, then abandon you when you realise what is involved and find you can't cope. This is unkind on you and the bees. We give you the simple facts and although beekeeping is a wonderful hobby, we tell you the upsides and downsides, so you can use your own judgement. Our mission is to help people start beekeeping who have the time and enthusiasm to care for their bees in a responsible manner. We are not trying to drag people into beekeeping for the sake of it.
For those local enough, there will be free follow up sessions at the apiary, where you can see inside a beehive and handle a colony of bees on your own under the supervision of an experienced beekeeper. Further details will be posted on the website www.wgbka.org.uk. In the past we have had a lot of experience of people buying bees and equipment, then coming along for help, only to find beekeeping doesn't suit them and abandoning the bees and equipment. We have found the Beginners Day and follow-up practical sessions have largely prevented that. We feel we have a duty to the bees and the general public to try and make sure beekeepers are well prepared and responsible and this day is the first step.
For those who are from outside the West Sussex area, there will be details on the day to help you find a Beekeepers Association in your area. We are not running the course for recruitment purposes and if we can help someone make a start and they find another group to join, we are happy.
There will be a supply of Roger Patterson's book "Beekeeping a Practical Guide".
Organised by the Wisborough Green Division of the West Sussex Beekeepers Association