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Introduction to Balanced Beekeeping

for 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.

* Why keep bees?
* What do you need to get started?
* 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
* How to build a top bar hive

Starting in Balanced Beekeeping

for beginners/converters (B)(I)

Tutor - Phil Chandler

This is aimed at those who have completed the Introduction weekend, or who have equivalent experience, including those interested in converting from conventional beekeeping methods.

* Introducing bees to a top bar hive
* Baiting and swarm catching
* The lifecycle of a colony
* Optimal hive design and function
* How to keep healthy bees
* Pests and diseases

Balanced Beekeeping:
Managing the Top Bar Hive

for improvers/converters (I)

Tutor - Phil Chandler

This 2-day Intermediate-level 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 basic swarm management
* Making increase and combining
* Pests and diseases

Swarming, Splits and Queen Rearing

for beekeepers with 2+ years experience (A)

Tutor - Phil Chandler

This event will major on the most exciting period of the beekeeping year, when colonies seek to reproduce themselves and there are opportunities for acquiring more colonies. The possibilities for rearing new colonies from 'swarm queens' will be explored, and we will look in detail at other methods of rearing queens suitable for balanced beekeeping.

* Why bees swarm
* Swarming: problem or opportunity?
* Swarm catching techniques
* Artificial swarming
* Choosing a method of queen rearing
* Queen mating and introduction
* Bee breeding: can we improve our stocks?

Balanced Beekeeping Courses 2014/15

Addressing everyone's needs for learning is my first priority, so I hope that this more structured approach will help you decide where you should start. An absolute beginner could begin with 'Introduction to Balanced Beekeeping', followed by 'Starting in Balanced Beekeeping', then a 'Beekeeper's Progress' session to fill in the blanks during your first full season. The following year you could attend a more specialized event, such as 'Swarms and Simple Queen Rearing' to extend your knowledge and experience. You can decide what is likely to suit you best.

Beginner events focus on 'natural' methods and major 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)

Intermediate courses are more flexible, and will always be adapted to address the particular needs of students, with coaching in the areas most requiring improvement. These events are 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 more 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)=Intermediate (some practical experience desirable); (A)=Advanced (suggested minimum 2 seasons with bees; (E)=Event (e.g. meeting or conference (not a training) - see here)
  • - 2014 -
  • August 16-17 NORTHERN GATHERING, Brinscall Hall, Lancs. (E)
  • August 30-31 Westfield Farm, Chew Valley, nr Bristol (I) FULLY BOOKED
  • September 13-14 Alpha Farm, Dorset Managing the Top Bar Hive (I)
  • September 27-28 Burgess Park Food Project London (B) FULLY BOOKED
  • October 11-12 Yarner Trust, North Devon Managing the Top Bar Hive (I)
  • October 24-26 Introduction to Balanced Beekeeping at Brinscall Hall, Chorley, Lancashire (B**) FULLY BOOKED
  • November 12-16 Budapest, Hungary (B) (I)
  • - 2015 -
  • March 7-8 - Starting in Balanced Beekeeping at Alpha Farm, Dorset (B**)
  • March 20-22 - Starting in Balanced Beekeeping at Brinscall Hall, Chorley, Lancashire (B)
  • April 18-19 - Starting in Balanced Beekeeping at Westfield Farm, Chew Valley, nr Bristol (B)
  • May 2-3 - Balanced Beekeeping: Managing the Top Bar Hive at Alpha Farm, Dorset (I)
  • May 15-17 - Swarming, Splits and Queen Rearing at Brinscall Hall, Chorley, Lancashire (A)
  • September 11-13 - Beekeeper's Progress at Brinscall Hall, Chorley, Lancashire (I)
  • September 26-27 - Beekeeper's Progress at Westfield Farm, Chew Valley, nr Bristol (I)
  • October TBA - Introduction to Balanced Beekeeping at Brinscall Hall, Chorley, Lancashire (B**)
** 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.

Buy your protective clothing here and get a special 15% discount! (use the code BAREFOOTBEEKEEPER at checkout and be sure to 'update basket')

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