Courses for 2022

Here at South Clwyd Beekeepers’ Association, we are proud of the work we do in educating new beekeepers and helping existing beekeepers to improve their skills.  To this end we have run successful courses for both beginners – those with no prior knowledge or experience of bees or beekeeping, and improvers – those wishing to consolidate their knowledge and improve their skills.

As part of their training, new beekeepers can be introduced to an experienced mentor, who will provide advice and support during the initial stages of setting up an apiary and obtaining bees.

As well as providing the training, we also provide beekeepers with the necessary hands-on skills and experience they need at sessions held throughout the year at our dedicated training apiary.

Beginners’ Course

This course is suitable for anyone who is interested in the world of beekeeping or who wants to become a beekeeper.  It is also suitable for anyone who has recently started beekeeping but has not yet completed a course.  The course aims to cover all the essential elements of beekeeping through detailed presentations and open question and answer sessions. The topics covered will include but are not limited to:

  • To explore the life cycle and behaviour of the honey bee colony
  • To explain the importance of our native black bee Apis mellifera mellifera (AMM)
  • To discuss the various hive types and beekeeping equipment needed to start beekeeping
  • To understand the involvement of the beekeeper during the year, including summer management and winter preparations
  • To discuss the history of the honey bee
  • To explain swarming, prevention and control
  • To discuss queen mating, marking and assessment
  • To provide an introduction to honey bee pests and diseases
  • To understand the process of honey clearing and extraction
  • To provide an introduction to forage and setting up an apiary
  • To provide practical experience in the inspection and handling of colonies of bees in our training apiary

A protective bee suit will be provided on loan for those who don’t have one of their own.
This course, along with the support of a mentor (mentors are allocated to SCBKA members who are in their first year of beekeeping and have completed the beginners course), should enable you to become a confident beekeeper.  The course will run over four Saturdays between February and May with practical sessions in the apiary.

The course fee of £100 also covers tuition at the weekly SCBKA apiary inspections (Saturday or Sunday subject to weather), and the opportunity should you wish to do so, to be involved in creating your own nucleus of bees with queen and brood, which you can then purchase from the association at a favourable price.

There is a 40% discount for students at Coleg Cambria Lysfasi making the cost £60.
The lead tutor is Julian Hunter who is a member of SCBKA.  Julian has been a beekeeper for over 30 years. A keen exponent of native bees, Julian currently runs 30 colonies and has a home apiary in which he has various types of hives for interest and comparison.

Dates for the 2022 course

(all Saturdays) are: – 5th Feb, 12th Feb, 26th Feb, 5th March 10- 4pm.


The course will take place at Brymbo Social Club Click the link for directions etc or copy to your browser :

If you would like to register for the 2022 cours, please complete the form below.

If you require any further information about the beginners course, please contact

Intermediate (Improvers’) Beekeepers Course 

Course Description

This course is designed to follow on from the introductory course and is aimed at consolidating and revising the material covered previously. It will introduce new topics which should be of interest to those who have kept bees for a year or more. It will therefore also be of interest to those who have already attended an introductory course or anyone returning to beekeeping after a gap of several years.

Completion of SCBKA’s introductory and improvers courses provide an excellent basis for those wishing to prepare for the WBKA Basic Assessment which SCBKA is keen to encourage.

Course Aims:

The course aims to develop participants understanding of the principles that underpin beekeeping and to develop their confidence and skills to read honey bee colonies and manage them in a way that is both empathetic and enjoyable. The course is mostly theory but will include practical elements at an appropriate time in the calendar. These will include at a minimum disease inspection including both alcohol washes and sugar rolls for varroa detection, comb changes, artificial swarming and methods of splitting and uniting colonies, and queen marking.

Learning Outcomes

Although this course revises the material covered in the Introductory Course, the learning outcomes are still relevant. Participants should therefore already have some basic knowledge / skills in:

the basic theory of beekeeping

handled bees and feel relaxed about this

basic manipulation skills

sufficient knowledge to interpret the basic state of a colony in relation to the stages of brood and bee development

knowledge of the range and use of beekeeping equipment required and where to site an apiary

basic knowledge of the principal pests and diseases affecting bees in the UK along with relevant treatments

awareness of the importance of apiary hygiene

knowledge of the importance of swarm management and swarm control

an understanding of honey production and extraction

In addition, participants will:

understand the basic theory behind the practical techniques of beekeeping

understand advanced beekeeping procedures that can be used to manage colonies during the active season, for example swarm prevention and control, comb management (including rotational comb change, Bailey comb change and shook swarm), making increase, uniting and moving colonies

understand the importance of wax comb and how to encourage the bees to draw this comb and why it is worth having spare fresh drawn comb available.

understand the life cycle of the honey bee and the characteristics and tasks undertaken in the colony

be able to identify the basic external anatomy of the honey bee

be able to identify the range of crops pollinated by honey bees

understand how to cage, clip and mark queen bees and introduce a new queen to a colony

have opportunity to raise and discuss matters relevant to their early beekeeping experience

understand the benefits of completing the WBKA Basic Assessment

Course Content

The theoretical content of the course will have four distinct elements, as follows:

Manipulation and Equipment

Natural History and beekeeping

Swarming, Swarm Control and effects

Disease and Pests

The theoretical elements of the course will be supplemented by a practical demonstrations at some point during or after the course (dependent on the time of year and the weather), usually at either the Association’s training apiary or one of the tutors apiaries. Here a ‘hands on’ approach will be encouraged from all participants. The practical demonstration will be subject to appropriate weather conditions.

1. Manipulation and Equipment

The course tutor will:

demonstrate the care needed when handling a colony of honey bees

demonstrate the reaction of honey bees to smoke

describe the personal protective and other equipment needed to open a colony of honey bees and the importance of its cleanliness

discuss the reasons for opening a colony

outline the importance of and the need for stores

describe the importance of record keeping, including veterinary medications administration records

open a colony of honey bees and demonstrate how to keep the colony under control

demonstrate lighting and the use of the smoker

demonstrate the use of the hive tool

remove combs from the hive and identify worker, drone and queen cells or cups if present and comment on the state of the comb

identify the female castes and the drones

identify brood at all stages

demonstrate the difference between drone, worker and honey capping

identify stored nectar, honey and pollen

demonstrate taking a sample of worker bees in a match box or similar container

outline the process and number of worker bees required for an adult disease diagnosis sample

demonstrate how to shake bees from a comb and how to look for signs of brood disease

name and explain the function of the principal parts of a modern beehive

outline the concept of bee space and its significance in the hive

demonstrate the process of queen marking and explain its benefits

describe the spacing of combs in the brood chamber and super for both foundation and drawn comb and methods used to achieve this space.

2. Natural History and Beekeeping

The course tutor will:

provide an elementary account of the development of queens, workers and drones, in the honey bee colony

describe the periods spent by the female castes and the drone in the four stages of their life, i.e. egg, larvae, pupa and adult

describe the division of labour within the hive

name the main local flora from which honey bees gather pollen and nectar

provide a simple definition of nectar and simple description of how it is collected, brought back to the hive and converted into honey

provide a simple description of the collection of pollen and use of pollen, water and propolis in the honey bee colony

provide a simple description of the way in which the honey bee colony passes the winter

discuss the considerations for setting up an apiary

describe what precautions should be taken to avoid the honey bees being a nuisance to neighbours and livestock

describe the possible effects of honey bee stings on humans and suitable first aid treatment

describe the annual cycle of work in the apiary

describe the preparation of sugar syrup and how and when to feed the bees

outline how and when to add honey supers

describe the dangers of robbing and how it can be avoided

describe a method of clearing bees from honey supers in advance of their removal prior to honey extraction

describe the process of extracting honey from combs and a method of straining and bottling of honey, including hygiene.

provide an overview of the resources available to beekeepers, including WBKA, DEFRA, BeeBase, etc

3. Swarming, Swarm Control and Effects

The course tutor will:

describe the process of swarming in the honey bee colony, including causes, natural history, primary and cast swarms

discuss swarm prevention techniques

describe one method of swarm control

describe how to collect a swarm and hive it

describe the signs of a queenless colony and how to test if a colony is queenless

describe the signs of a laying workers and of a drone laying queen

describe a simple method of queen introduction

describe a method of uniting colonies and precautions to be taken

4. Disease and Pests

The course tutor will:

describe the appearance of healthy brood, sealed and unsealed

explain the reasons for good apiary hygiene

explain the reasons for regular brood comb replacement

describe the signs of bacterial diseases American Foul Brood (AFB) and European Foul Brood (EFB), the fungal disease Chalk Brood and the viral disease Sac Brood

describe the methods for detecting and monitoring the presence of varroa (a mite) and describe its effect on the colony including the awareness of associated viruses

explain the effects of acarine (a mite) and nosema (a fungus) on the honey bee colony

describe ways of controlling varroa using integrated pest management techniques

outline current legislation regarding notifiable diseases and pests of honey bees

provide information on who to contact to verify disease and advise on treatment

advise how to store comb to prevent damage by wax moth

describe how mice and other pests can be excluded from hives in winter

mention other exotic pests including small hive beetle, Tropilaelaps mite, and Asian Hornet

Recommended Reading and Information Sources

Whilst it is not a requirement, SCBKA recommends participants purchase Ted Hooper’s “Guide to

Bees and Honey” or the British BBKA Guide To Beekeeping (second edition) by Ivor Davis and Roger Cullum-Kenyon. The Haynes Bee Manual is a useful step-by-step guide to keeping bees.

The course tutor will outline other information sources to include the benefits of joining an association, enrolment on BeeBase (online at the National Bee Unit), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Welsh Beekeepers Association (WBKA), South Clwyd Beekeepers Association (SCBKA), local and national suppliers of beekeeping equipment.

Support for Continuous Learning

It is recommended that participants join South Clwyd Beekeepers Association for ongoing support, for example apiary meetings during the summer months, evening meetings throughout the year, regular mailshots keeping members fully up to date, membership of the Welsh Beekeepers Association and copy of the Welsh Beekeeper Magazine, etc.

Course Evaluation

SCBKA will carry out course evaluation by means of paper or electronic questionnaire. The purpose of such evaluation is to assess the quality of training courses provided and to respond to, and act on the results.

Course Dates 2022:

The course will take place over 4 Saturdays 10am – 4pm 19 March, 2nd April, 9th April, and 23 April

Course Fee: The course fee of £75.00  also covers tuition at the weekly SCBKA apiary inspections (Saturday or Sunday subject to weather)


The course will take place at Brymbo Social Club Click the link for directions etc or copy to your browser :

If you would like to register for the 2022 course, please complete the form below.

If you require any further information about the beginners course, please contact


This course has been designed to follow on from the introductory course. It broadly follows the syllabus for the WBKA Basic Assessment.

Both the introductory and intermediate courses should help those beekeepers who wish to prepare for the WBKA Basic Assessment.


Sign up for a course

WBKA Basic Assessment

If you have kept bees for at least one full season, have you thought about taking the WBKA Basic Assessment?

After your first season you will have built up your skills through practical experience and through attendance on a beginners and improvers course.  This is the ideal time to take things a little further.

Successfully passing the Basic Assessment demonstrates that you have achieved a good level of understanding in managing your bees.

You will need to do a bit of reading in preparation, but the assessment is quite informal and actually quite enjoyable.

WBKA would like 50% of beekeepers to take the Basic Assessment, and SCBKA would like to support this approach.

If you are interested, we can put you in touch with someone who has already passed, or if a number of people are interested, we could set up a study group, an approach which has proved popular for other assessments.

If you require further information about the WBKA Basic Assessment, then please contact