Sidcup Beekeepers Association

Beekeeping Beginners Course

2nd & 16th Mar, 27th Apr, 11th May 2024

Theory: Two Saturday mornings: 11th and 25th March 9:30am to 1pm; 167 Tower Bridge Road, London SE1 3LN

Practical: Two Saturdays: 22nd April and 13th May 9:30am to 3:30pm. Apiaries in Sidcup and Bexley

This annual beekeeping beginners’ course includes classroom teaching on the essentials followed by two full days practical component of supervised work with bees in the association apiaries.

The course is suitable for those considering beekeeping as a hobby.

Requests for further information etc to:

Cost £150

Beginners Beekeeping Course Spring 2024


This course is intended for those who are considering taking up beekeeping. By the end of the course individuals will have had a good grounding in the fundamentals of beekeeping and will have had significant experience of hive inspections and the handling of bees. It will still be necessary to have help and support from experienced beekeepers in order to manage bee colonies. The course will enable some people to start keeping bees in the same season with support. We strongly recommend that anyone considering taking up beekeeping undertakes a course such as this one and also joins a beekeeping association, such as ours, to make use of further training and support.

Time commitment

The course involves two Saturday mornings for theory training and two Saturdays (up to 3 PM) for practical training. There is also a recommended book and about six hours of recommended homework using training videos.

Theory training

The theory component of the course will be delivered on two Saturday mornings in March.

This will cover bee biology, the management of honeybees, honeybee diseases, swarming and the honey crop.

There will be video-based homework to help reinforce the main teaching points.

A copy of the widely respected textbook by Ted Hooper ‘Guide to Bees and Honey’ is included in the course fee.

Basic membership to the Sidcup Beekeepers Association (‘Friend Membership’) is also included in the course fee.

It is expected that the theory training will be delivered at: 167 Tower Bridge Road (ground floor), London SE1 3LN. (The training premises of a medical training company).

Planned Programme 2nd March

9:30am Introduction and Outline of Course

9.45am What is and is not a honeybee, equipment basics and where to get it from, getting your bees

10.30am Natural History: Origins, queen, workers and drones, function of castes and genders, individual lifecycles.

11.15am Break

11.30am Natural History: Basic anatomy, age related duties of workers – division of labour

12.15am The Management of Bees: The beekeeping year, hives – further considerations, apiaries and their pros and cons, inspecting a colony.

1pm The Management of Bees: The impact of swarming, managing ‘difficult’ (=aggressive) colonies, feeding, other jobs

1.30pm Finish

Planned Programme 16th March

9 30am Welcome and recap

9.45am Swarming: Why and when bees swarm, the prevention, control (when prevention fails), collection of swarms

10.30am Diseases, parasites and pests: Hygiene and good apiary practice, brood diseases and their control, adult bee diseases, Acarine

11.15am Break

11.30am Varroa and its control

12.15pm The honey harvest, separating bees from honey, extraction.

1pm Warming, straining and bottling, preparation of soft set honey, labels and legal matters. Components of honey. Honey quality issues.

1.30pm Finish

Teaching Team

This course was developed by Rudy Repka who delivered it for many years. From 2019 Ian Stell took over the course leadership. He is a Master Beekeeper who has kept bees for over 20 years and has published on bee science (bee anatomy). The practical session will involve working in small groups. Each group will be led by an experienced beekeeper from the Sidcup Beekeepers Association.


Some interesting and straightforward homework will be set. This is to reinforce the teaching on the theory days. It uses pre-recorded videos and follows a quiz-type structure. (Links provided).

Practical teaching

The practical teaching component will be delivered on Saturdays 27th April and 11th May. A reserve date of 18th May will be kept in case a practical session is lost because of wet weather.

The practical training will take place at the teaching apiaries of the association:

Ruxley Apiary, Honeydale Farm, Maidstone Rd, Sidcup DA14 5AW.

Baldwyn’s Park, BFA, Coldblow, Bexley DA5 2BA

The practical training will focus on the handling of bees and on a number of practical skills necessary in beekeeping.

The practical training days are Saturdays also and run from 9.30 AM to 3.00 PM. There are two days of training. Two dates will be planned, however it is not unusual for one of these dates to be rearranged because of either wet weather or cold weather. Therefore two reserve dates will also be planned into the programme, in case rearrangement is necessary.


The cost of the course is £150 in total for the four days of teaching plus online materials.


Booking for the course is now open. Please contact: Ian Stell on to express your interest.

To confirm your place full payment will be required by Saturday 24th February. Payment should be made by bank transfer (BACS) to:

The Catford Press Limited. Account: 20170602. Sort Code: 602477. Please include your name as the payment reference.

The following information will be needed: name, email and postal address.

The textbook will be posted out directly from Northern Bee Books

In order to complete the Friend Membership there is a Kent Beekeepers Association form which will be emailed out.

There will be a disclaimer form which we will need to ask everyone to sign. Although we will take standard steps to keep these training sessions safe, we cannot guarantee that nobody will be stung. The British Beekeepers Association insurance which covers a number of beekeeping activities requires us to ask for a disclaimer form to be completed before learners open beehives.

Ian Stell

1st November 2023