Beekeeping: an introduction 27th — 28th April 2024

Find out what it takes to be a beekeeper at Martineau Gardens with our popular course. Our expert beekeepers will show you the basics of beekeeping. 

Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 April 2024  

£135 total (no concessions)
Advance booking is essential 

Course Aim

To teach an understanding of small scale ‘hobbyist’ beekeeping. This will allow delegates to understand what is involved in keeping bees. Although the course is normally classroom based, there will be some practical elements. Depending on weather we hope to have some practical time in the apiary too. This course has been developed to provide more in-depth information. Students will be expected to continue to self study / have guidance from an association to attain a good understanding before buying bees. We also have a one day ‘taster’ course available.

Scroll down for more information on what is covered on the course. 

What to expect

This weekend course will be taught by Sam Walker and Valli Cawte. Each day, the course runs from 9.45am with an approximate finish of 4pm (it may overrun a little), with a half-hour break for lunch. The total cost for both days is £135 (no concessions).   

You will need to bring a packed lunch since there is no cafe (no bananas! – all will be explained on the course), but hot and cold drinks are provided. All protective clothing will be provided and laundered in between each use, but you will need to bring a pair of wellies which will stop bees getting up your trouser leg (you won’t need to wear them all day) and a note pad. It’s helpful to bring a cap, (and a hairband if you have long hair). 

The practical element of the course (‘hands-on with bees’) will take place at Martineau Gardens, part of the course will take place indoors, with a classroom session next door at the Edgbaston Priory Club, which is approximately 5 minutes walk. Please call the gardens if you need to know more about this. 

£135 (no concessions) – advance booking and payment is essential. 

To book your place, please telephone Martineau Gardens on 0121 440 7430 or email: to check availability and then arrange your payment. Payment by BACS transfer (use the reference Bees + surname) or in-person with card or cash (sorry, no American Express or cheques). 

Refunds: In the event that you have booked and paid but cannot attend, the booking can be transferred to another person, but you need to let us have the details of the new attendee. Alternatively, we can try to resell your place, if successful then a refund will be given, otherwise no refund. We do not accept liability for your travel costs if you have paid fares in advance.  

Course description 

Introduction to the course 

  • Types of hives 
  • Basic Equipment 
  • Obtaining bees 
  • Buying a Nucleus 
  • Obtaining a swarm 
  • Buying a complete colony 
  • Precautions when obtaining bees 
  • Reading list and notes 
  • Beekeeping association membership 

Honey bee life cycle 

  • Colony organisation 
  • Cycle of work in the apiary 
  • Autumn 
  • Winter 
  • Spring 
  • Summer 


  • Collecting 
  • Prevention 
  • Artificial swarm 
  • Artificial swarm without finding the queen 
  • Uniting stocks 


  • Stings 
  • Moving bees 
  • Hygiene 


  • Pests 
  • Diseases 

Harvesting honey 

  • Extracting honey 
  • Processing honey 
  • Feeding bees 
  • Finally in conclusion 

There will also be an opportunity for the delegates to visit the apiary at Martineau Gardens weather permitting during the course or on another date if weather is unsuitable 

About your tutors

Samantha Walker is our volunteer beekeeper and Vice President of Birmingham and District Beekeepers Association (B&DBKA). Interested and inspired by all things related to nature, Sam became interested in honey bees in 2013 and joined B&DBKA. Sam rapidly became a mentor to other beekeepers and has been teaching beekeeping courses for the last four years. 

Valli Cawte has been a member of Solihull British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) since 2015. She has prepared, assisted and presented live bee displays for the BBKA at Blenheim Palace for Country File Live, and Chatsworth for The RHS Chatsworth Flower Show over several years. Valli also uses computer skills and graphics to design honey bee images for fabrics, labels, displays, and anything bee related.


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