A blog originally for keeping track of my hobby of being a Beekeeper which has evolved to include Home Brewing and even more recently to follow me and my families approach to "The Good Life". Eventually I hope to include baking recipes and stories of our flock of chickens also reporting on the success and failure at the allotments.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Wakefield and Pontefract Beekeepers: January Meeting

On 31st January I attended my second Beekeepers meeting with Wakefield and Pontefract Beekeepers Association. This months meeting was about British Beekeepers Association examinations and qualifications and was hosted by a lady called Val Francis. In the presentation she covered all the certificates available ranging from a Junior Certificate all the way to becoming a Master Beekeeper.
I am too old to do the Junior Certificate but this seems to aimed more at school children or scout groups etc with the intention of hopefully getting new people into the idea of Beekeeping from a young age. I will be encouraging my 8 week old daughter to help with the Bees and do the Junior Certificate when she is slightly older!
A requirement for the first certificate I will be able to go for, the Basic Assessment in Beekeeping certificate, is that you need to have kept bees for over a year so it will be some time before I can apply for this but imagine I will go for it when I can.
After the Basic has been completed there are options as to what to do next. One path leads you down the theory route and another path leads down the practical route. There is also a Microscopy Certificate available at this stage which involves using microscopes to see inside bees to get a idea of their health and spot disease.
If you go down the theory path there are 7 modules that can be taken in any order with the exception of module 8 (there used to be 8 modules but module 4 has been removed) which has to be completed last. When the first 3 modules and any 1 other (except 8) have been completed you will be awarded the Intermediate Theory Certificate, if you then go on to complete all modules with module 8 last you will be awarded the Advanced Theory Certificate.
With the practical side there is the General Certificate in Beekeeping Husbandry and then the Advanced Certificate in Beekeeping Husbandry. These both require you to have kept Bees for a number of years and involve both practical and theory assessment but mainly practical. They involve you being able to demonstrate skills in taking the hives apart and doing checks on the Bees health. In the advanced part you need to be able to demonstrate queen rearing skills also.
When the General Certificate and the Intermediate theory have both been completed then you get the title of Qualified Beekeeper and when both Advanced Certificates are completed then you can call yourself a Master Beekeeper. I will be aiming towards Qualified Beekeeper as soon as I can with a aim of about 10 years to get there. With the Master Beekeeper qualification I won't be giving myself a time scale as there is a lot of hard work to do and it requires me to be a qualified Beekeeper first. Here is a link to the BBKA site with details of examinations and a flow chart explaining this in more detail.
There is also a certificate in becoming a show judge but I don't think this is something that really interests me.

Also at the meeting this month there was a silent auction to get hold of some equipment cheap. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful in any of my bids. Oh well, maybe next time. Also while I was there I paid my £20 subscription so I am now a official member and will have liability cover when I have my Bees. While I was there I paid for the Beginners Beekeepers course which runs through May and June and includes a option to buy a starter Nuc of Bees locally bred at a discount price. I am not sure exactly how much the Bees will be but believe they will be cheaper than I can get elsewhere so will probably try to get them from the course.

While I'm typing I may as well put a quick update on my meads. My first mead is now about half way through it's fermenting and has really slowed down with it's bubbling, it smells really nice and looks to be starting to get clearer. As soon as it is clear I will be having a taste. My other mead is still bubbling away but not as rapid as when it first started. I have changed the airlock to a different kind that makes less noise as the previous one was rather annoying. This second mead is also smelling nice and possibly smells quite a bit stronger. This mead should be ready to drink in June or July but I will need to rack it before then and will post a update at that point!

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