The Beekeeping Year

East Lothian Beekeepers Association holds beginner classes every year. The classes cover the theoretical and practical basics of beekeeping and give a solid grounding for the new beekeeper.

During the active season, members are encouraged to host an open day at their apiary to which all members are invited. These prove to be both informative and enjoyable.

During the winter months, the association runs a series of talks and lectures given by invited speakers. Our events page has further details. Members are on the mailing list, so do check for updates.


Beekeeping Courses

The classes go over the basic ideas and skills of beekeeping and give the new beekeeper a good foundation. Plus, it’s a great place to meet other beginners.
Visit the shop to view available spaces

The course fees are £80 which include association membership and mentoring. Only one course is needed, please do not book both!

EMAIL to be put on the reserve list

Terms & Conditions of booking
Payment for any courses must be made in full at the time of booking.

Bookings cancelled more than one month before the commencement of the course will receive a refund less a £10 admin fee. Less than one month no refund will be payable. If the cancelled course can be resold then a refund may be payable, less a £10 admin fee.

February, Introduction To Beekeeping

This course in consists of 2 components: theory sessions in the evening and practical sessions on weekends, usually Saturday afternoons (when the weather is warmer). It’s important to make sure you can make all the dates.


Week 1. Introduction; what is a honeybee, origins of bees; history of beekeeping, honey hunting, skeps, Langstroth; importance of beekeeping.

Week 2. The colony; the queen, workers and drones; division of work within the hive;  individual life-cycles; pollination, nectar and honey; local forage crops.

Week 3. The Hive; hive components; brood box; supers; different types of hive; practical – making frames.

Week 4. The beekeeping year; preparation for winter; spring management, inspections,  summer build up; harvesting honey; wax, propolis and pollen; selling honey.

Week 5. Pests and Diseases; pests; brood diseases; adult bee diseases; varroa; statutory requirements.

Week 6. Swarms and the reason for swarming (causes, natural history, primary and casts); swarm control; swarm collection.

After the course

Practical beekeeping demonstrations will be arranged with the course members in the spring/summer.

Check dates and availability


May, Practical Beekeeping For Beginners

This course is good for people who have never kept bees before or who just got a colony but haven’t taken a course yet! If you have already booked to go on the course in February, you do not need to book this one.


Syllabus: Bees are wild, unpredictable creatures, and it is hard to predict in advance which set of challenges the bees will present on a week-by-week basis.
As a result the course will cover the following topics, but in no particular order:-

  • Types of beehive, hive components, making of frames, beekeeping equipment
  • The colony; queen, workers, drones, their life cycle and functions
  • Products of the hive; honey, wax, pollen and propolis
  • Swarming; reasons, primes and casts, swarm collection and hiving
  • Swarm Control; the 7 day inspection
  • Swarm Management; horizontal and vertical splits, nukes
  • Pests and Diseases
  • Processing the crop

Check dates and availability (If you have already booked to go on the course in February, you do not need to book this one.)