Rugby beekeepers typically offer an introduction to beekeeping course each year in the Spring.
Many of those who have attended have continued their interest and become beekeepers, which is terrific, but not essential. There are those who simply want to know more.
We welcome all comers for whatever their reason.
However, due to the ongoing pandemic situation, we will not be able to run the course in 2021.
There is still hope though, and no reason why you can't start on your road to beekeeping now.
BIBBA (the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders Association) are running an excellent series of webinars that will provide you with an invaluable headstart into beekeeping.
We also recommend that you source a beekeeping manual. We use the Haynes Bee Manual for this purpose on our courses as it covers all of the essential information required as well as a broad range of useful additions that make it an excellent first time reference piece. I wish that I'd had it when I started beekeeping.
You can also join the Rugby Beekeepers Association (as an Associate member until you have bees), and attend our branch meetings over Zoom until we're able to recommence our on-site meetings.
I would like to take this opportunity to strongly warn you against purchasing equipment (or bees) in advance of becoming a member and discussing the relevant topics with us.
Once the issues surrounding the pandemic are addressed, we will be able to provide practical support via the assignment of mentors to our new members.
This will greatly increase your chances of having healthy bees that survive their first Winter. To open your hive in the Spring to find nothing but a pile of dead bees is incredibly demoralising, as well as upsetting.
We also have a branch apiary, where hands on experience and confidence can be gained throughout the summer months (should the pandemic allow).
Please be warned that there is a lot of equipment available online that is not suitable for beekeeping in the UK because it is either a) non standard, and/or b) not interchangeable/compatible with other equipment that is.
I have come across a few new beekeepers who have been caught out in this way and it can over-complicate their first year to the extent that they either don't continue beekeeping, or end up purchasing new equipment, effectively doubling their costs.
I would also avoid purchasing 'kits' that come with leather gloves because they are :
a) difficult to clean
b) absorb alarm pheromones from the bees ensuring that the wearer aggravates the colony as soon as the hive is opened
c) make it almost impossible to feel where bees are, which leads to crushing, and the release of more alarm pheromone
Good beekeeping starter kits, that don't fall into the category above, can be a convenient entry point however, but there may be better options available at other sources, including trade shows.
A conversation at one of our meetings will provide you with the sort of valuable context that will allow you to make informed purchases where appropriate.
All the best, and stay safe and well!