Beekeeper Training

For anyone considering becoming a beekeeper it is essential to do both a Theory and a Practical Course. Guildford Beekeepers Association (GBKA) has been running both Theory and Practical Courses for many years and our experience in this field is exemplary. We take pride in providing a solid grounding in the craft so that beginners have the confidence to manage bees on their own. Trainees are further supported by automatic membership with GBKA during the course, with access to the Association Apiary at weekends. When the trainees acquire their bees, there is a mentoring scheme through which they can contact a more experienced member to help them through the first years.

Theory Course

The Theory course starts in January and runs for 9 weeks, partly via Zoom and partly at the Association’s Apiary at Birtley Brook.

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Below is a summary of what is covered on our Theory course:

  • Course Introduction
  • The worker bee – development, activities and pollination.
  • Bee nests – honey bee requirements, bee space, hive parts, colony size. Types of hive.
  • Queens & drones, genders & castes, mating. Drone laying queens and laying workers.
  • Bee diseases – American Foul Brood (AFB) & European Foul Brood (EFB) including statutory requirements. Other brood diseases, notifiable pests, Varroa mite and Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
  • Other pests, including Asian hornet.
  • Setting up an apiary, the apiary year, extracting honey
  • Swarming – natural and artificial swarms, hiving a swarm, uniting colonies.
  • Getting started, equipment, making frames.

Practical Course

The Practical Course starts in mid-April. The course is usually held on Saturdays between 10.30 am and 12.30 pm at our lovely Association Apiary at Birtley Brook. This is in a beautiful setting in the grounds of Birtley House. We have fantastic facilities in our own Barn. There are several different hive types used so that students can experience different management options.

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The Practical courses put into practice everything that has been taught on the Theory Course and prepares trainees to be ready to deal with the unexpected!

Here are a few of the comments we have had from students on our courses:

“Many, many thanks to you and all the team, not only for setting up and delivering a great couple of courses, but also for being such a lovely and welcoming bunch of people.”

“Just a quick note to say thank you very much for the incredibly professional and super friendly introduction to beekeeping course, it certainly exceeded my expectations and I’ll definitely aim to be a regular visitor over the summer.”

“Thanks for all your help (and the trainers), it was an amazing course. Loved every moment.”

Taster Sessions

We normally hold a Taster Session for those people who are just interested in bees or those considering doing our full training course. The Taster Session is usually held in July at the Birtley Brook Apiary from 2.00 pm to 4:30 pm.

Please contact us if you are interested in attending: [email protected] or submit the form below.


The cost of the courses are given below. A discount is available if both courses are booked together.
Prospective trainees will be contacted by the Course Administrator in early October to confirm the course details, the costs, and the method of payment. Course places are allocated on a first come first served basis.

To register an interest in either or both courses or to book please contact [email protected] or submit the form below.

Enquiry Form

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Which course are you interested in?
* Practical is 8 weekly sessions, dates are weather dependant
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