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The Art and Craft of
Practical, Balanced Beekeeping

for novices/beginners (B)

Tutor - Phil Chandler

Learn about 'balanced beekeeping' in top bar hives: a simple, practical way to have healthy and happy bees in your garden, with the possibility of your own honey harvest, but without the cost and complications associated with conventional beekeeping.

This course is intended for people with no previous knowledge of bees or beekeeping, and will provide you with all the information you need to decide if, when and how you will become a beekeeper.

We will cover:

  • The nature of honeybees and flowering plants
  • The history of our relationship with bees
  • Principles of balanced beekeeping
  • How to make a good start with bees
  • The top bar hive: construction and use
  • Keeping healthy bees
  • Your first beekeeping year

Balanced Beekeeping:
Managing the Top Bar Hive

for improvers/converters (I)

Tutor - Phil Chandler

This 2-day 'improvers/converters' course is intended for people who have - as a minimum - basic familiarity with bee anatomy and behaviour, plus some experience of practical beekeeping in any type of hive. We will be focusing on the practical and theoretical aspects of working with bees in a more natural and balanced way, ranging across all aspects of beekeeping. You are encouraged to contribute your own experiences to our discussions, which are likely to include:

  • The philosophy of 'balanced beekeeping'
  • Hive design from the bees' point of view
  • Managing top bar hives in practice
  • Swarming and swarm management
  • Making increase and breeding bees
  • Pests and diseases

Balanced Beekeeping Courses 2014/15

I offer a 'beginners' course, designed for people who have little or no experience or knowledge; an 'improvers' course for people who know one end of a bee from the other, are conversant with beekeeping terminology, and who have some hands-on experience; and 'advanced' courses on specialized areas, such as swarm management and queen rearing.

The beginners' event is, of course, a general introduction to the subject, focusing on 'natural' methods and majoring on the horizontal top bar hive, while including mention of other 'non-conventional' hives, such as skeps, Warré and variants. While I adapt it 'live' to meet the needs of students as much as possible, it does follow a stricter agenda so as to cover the important areas. Beginner-level events are marked (B)

The 'improvers/converters' course is more flexible, and will always be adapted to address the particular needs of students, with coaching in the areas most requiring improvement. This event is particularly suitable for people who have done some practical beekeeping in any type of hive and wish to convert to more natural methods, as well as those who wish to improve their top bar management skills. Intermediate level events are marked (I)

'Advanced' courses tend to be discussion-based, as students are likely to be conversant with management methodologies and can contribute their own experience to the subject. While focus is always on the major theme of the event, students are encouraged to explore connected areas and to share ideas. Advanced level events are marked (A)

Weather permitting, we will spend some time with resident bees, so please bring suitable clothing; at least a hat and veil, or a full suit if you prefer.

Please refer to the host site for further information and booking procedures.

(B)=Beginners (no experience required); (I)=improvers/converters (some experience desirable); (A)=Advanced (minimum 2 seasons with bees; (E)=Event (e.g. meeting, not a training - see here)
** This event will be aimed at people preparing to start beekeeping in the spring. It will include a session on hive building and the art of attracting bees to your hive, as well as the options for installing bees.


Your chance to be part of a unique natural beekeeping courses held at Close Farm, Highgrove House, the home of HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall.

I hope to be able to offer this course again in 2015, most likely as four one-day sessions spread over the season. If you think you may be interested, please let me know via the contact page.

Profits from products and events at Highgrove are donated to The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation, a grant-making charity which supports a wide range of causes and projects.

Natural Beekeeping for Gardeners

Phil Chandler

International Natural Beekeeping online interactive course

A four-week course in Natural Beekeeping from the #1 online gardening school, with audio-visual teaching and marked assignments.

© 2014 P Chandler    Friends of the Bees
natural beekeeping classes, training