5 April 2013


The blog
This blog is a bit of a 'wait and see what happens next' sort of thing. I think everybody is enthusiastic at the beginning of blogging, but then things get in the way - like sunshine, gardening, not being stuck indoors because it's raining, and all sorts of family and bee-related things. Maybe somebody will find something useful here. Maybe it'll be a source of amusement because it's full of mistakes because, as a beekeeper of less than 40 years experience, I've still got a heck of a lot to learn.

The first posts of this blog comprised my, slightly updated, notes for the 'Basic Assessment'. It took ages to write it all down on my computer, and seemed a bit of a waste to leave all that effort, and all those words, lying idle in a private folder. Maybe these notes will be useful to others who are preparing to take their assessment - I hope so. I will continue to update as, and when, BBKA changes the syllabus.


The Apiary and Bees
The 'small apiary', and the house, are about twenty minutes in the car from the nearest beaches on the south coast. The weather here, according to geography lessons and statistics, should be consistently milder than further inland because the sea is warmed by the Gulf Stream. But statistics and local geography can play cruel tricks on the unwary - there is rarely a mention of the gale force breezes, pea-souper sea mists and torrential showers caused by the warm air hitting colder land, or vice versa. The local bees don't seem to mind too much because they're used to it, colonies generally build up well and store enough honey during the season for some to be gifted to family and friends.

Having started off with two established colonies bought from a 'retiring' (and emigrating) beekeeper, I built up to four and then six, which I think is probably enough. The bees were originally in cedar Jumbo Langstroths, but one of the boxes turned out to be more rot than wood and absorbed all the rain, so they were replaced. I chose to use weatherproof, warm, polystyrene Swienty Jumbos. I like them a lot, I think the bees do too.

The 'small apiary' is at home, in the garden. It's quite a large garden, surrounded by tall, thick, old, hedges, so having the hives here seemed like a good idea. The neighbours were particularly pleased by the thought of some free local honey, but, two sets of new neighbours (in one house) later, I needed to start looking for an out-apiary 'just in case' - and because having another site for bees is often essential. I was delighted when a friendly farmer offered the use of a corner of a field where I kept just one colony.

'Out-apiaries' come and go as often as land changes hands, and it seems that every couple of years there's a need to move our bees to a new site. It can be a real challenge to find somewhere suitable because, even though it also seems that many people would welcome bees into their garden or a corner of a field, the reality is that beekeepers need regular access and this land-use isn't always convenient for the landowner once their initial enthusiasm has worn off.

Maybe a more accurate name for this blog would have been 'The Wandering Apiarist'!


If you're reading this blog in the hope of finding advice that will suit you and your bees, then you're more than welcome to browse and maybe learn something new. But local conditions vary, so there has to be a disclaimer. If you try to copy something I've done and it all goes pear-shaped it isn't my fault!


All the original text, and all images on this site are covered by copyright protection. Please don't just take and use something - it's mean, and it's a bit sneaky. You're more than welcome to quote text as long as you provide a backlink. If you would like to use one or more image for educational or charitable purposes then please contact me and you will be granted a license, free of charge, provided you agree to acknowledge the photographer.


If you wish to contact me please leave a comment on this page, and I'll get back to you, or email me at:- notesfromasmallapiary @ gmail.com


* Page last edited 26/10/2016



  1. We will be running a small Basic course for our members doing the exam this summer. May we use your Basic Notes?
    Thanks Robin

  2. Sorry for the delay in replying, I hadn't received email notification of your message so didn't know it was here until I logged in. Of course you may use these Basic notes for your course, I hope they help and wish all candidates the best of luck.