Barnsley Beekeepers

Early Years Events 2024

Early Years Events 2024

One-day beekeeping course 2024

“The Early Years”

A course for progressive beekeepers

Sat 17th Feb: Lawshall, Suffolk

Sun 18th Feb: Denton, Northampton

About the course

A one-day course to help and encourage beekeepers in their formative years who wish to move on from their initial teaching, gaining ideas, knowledge and skills that should help them understand their bees more, so becoming better beekeepers. The tutors are practical beekeepers who will pass on the experiences gleaned from many years in the craft. For a variety of reasons, beekeepers learn and progress at different rates. To appeal to all beekeepers, the programme has interesting topics that should encourage attendees to find out more and explore different methods, some of which may not be found in standard teaching material.

This course is organised by BIBBA, the tutors are Karl Colyer from Cheshire and Roger Patterson from West Sussex.


9.00 Registration

9.25 Introduction and welcome

9.30-10.15 Roger Patterson: “Learn the basics”

10.15 – 10.30 Break

10.30 – 11.15 Karl Colyer: “Balancing your beekeeping with your other commitments”

11.15 – 11.30 Break

11.30 – 12.30 Roger Patterson: “Queen cells: Their recognition and uses”

12.30 – 1.15 Lunch (bring your own and refreshments)

1.15 – 2.15 Karl Colyer: “Beekeeping; Getting Through the first 5 Years”

2.15 – 2.30 Break

2.30 – 3.30 Roger Patterson: “Observation: Interpret what you see”

3.30 General discussion and close

Speakers and Presentations

Karl Colyer 

Karl has been keeping bees since 2003. He enjoys building his own hives from recycled wood where he can and is a very practical and hands-on bee breeder, bringing his engineering, quality and production experience to the fore.

Over 500 colonies have been reared during this time. Various hive designs, configurations and methods of operation were explored to understand how to have the simplest, most flexible, cost and time-effective way of managing a large number of bees whilst juggling other life commitments. Karl rears locally-adapted bees for enjoyment, education and his sole source of income.

Balancing your beekeeping with your other commitments”

Beekeeping is a responsibility and there is a minimum expectation of input in terms of time, effort and understanding required. Many of us have jobs, children, family and club commitments and it can be a juggle to fit everything in together. By understanding the time required in terms of how much and when and combining that with the various tasks to be done during the year, choices can be made on what aspirations to have of your bees and your beekeeping. Ultimately, there is a balance between the number of bees you have, the time you have available and how much you get to know and understand the practicalities of the craft.

“Beekeeping; Getting Through the first 5 Years”

A simple summary of the top-level objectives over the first years as the colony increases in size and age and the beekeeper deals with the challenges and opportunities that being a beekeeper presents over that timeframe. The talk covers many areas and is not a how-to guide (there are many of those available) but more of a what-to-consider guide. Most useful for those that are evolving their beekeeping and have relatively young colonies.


Roger Patterson

Roger is a practical beekeeper who started keeping bees in his native West Sussex in 1963. He has learnt a lot by observing bees and beekeepers in a wide variety of locations, which has helped him to develop his simple management system and to question what he is told.

Roger has learnt a lot from bees, that he willingly passes on to others as a prolific speaker, demonstrator and author of five books. “Live@the Hive” features him being live streamed inspecting colonies of real bees and giving tips from his home apiary.

He has been a demonstrator at the Wisborough Green BKA teaching apiary since the early 1970s and is currently the Apiary Manager, where there are normally over 30 colonies for tuition. He therefore knows what beekeepers want and need to learn. For about 15 years he had 130 colonies of his own, but is now down to around 35. He is President of BIBBA and owns and runs the Dave Cushman website, which is considered to be one of the world’s most comprehensive beekeeping websites.


“Learn the basics”

The learning of a few factual things will go a long way to helping you solve many of the common issues that you will experience at the hive. You may then be able to solve problems yourself, or at least have a little knowledge, so you can understand what the advice you are given is trying to achieve, or even if it is sound and will work in your situation. Many beekeepers, often quite experienced ones, don’t always know the “basics”, although they often think they do. This presentation covers some of the common ones.

“Queen cells: Their recognition and uses”

Beekeepers often decide what type of queen cells they have in their colonies by where they are placed on the comb, because that is what they are taught or read in books. This can be very unreliable, resulting in the wrong diagnosis and the wrong action being taken, possibly leaving the colony hopelessly queenless. There will be some clear guidance on what to look for, so colonies can be managed accordingly. There will be tips on how to use queen cells.

“Observation: Interpret what you see”

Lateral thinking and observation are two of the most valuable assets a beekeeper can possess. There are many things an observant beekeeper will spot during a colony inspection that others will miss. This ability comes with experience, but the key is to know what is normal, so you can spot something different. A colony of bees is telling you something all the time. Good beekeepers are able to interpret what the bees are telling them and what may happen in a colony in 2, 5 or 10 day’s time. This presentation is not to be missed and shows some things that are often seen in colonies, but may not be taught or seen in books or videos.


Venues for 2024

Sat 17th Feb: Lawshall, Suffolk

Sun 18th Feb: Denton, Northampton

Cost £10 + booking fee. Book here. £20 on the day if sufficient space. Fire regs determine numbers.

Please bring your own lunch and refreshments.

Parking may be limited. Please share transport if possible.

Terms of Booking



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