Getting It Right

Bailey Comb Change Demo For A Weak Colony
Demo Of Bailey Comb Change  For A Weak Colony – With David Clague and Alla Neal

I have a maxim, gained from my observation of the way the world works: “There may not be one single way to get it right. But there are lots of ways of getting it wrong.” It has served me well over the years.

That means it makes sense in life to continue to acquire knowledge and understanding. That way you’ll have more positive outcomes and fewer abject failures.

This applies doubly to beekeeping. So spending a Saturday in Mitcham and Tooting FC’s hospitality suite, courtesy of the Surrey Beekeepers Association, for a training session designed to prepare ambitious beekeepers for the General Husbandry Assessment (only 62 people in the UK attempted this rigorous examination in 2015) was a welcome masterclass in “getting it right”.


Alastair Welch, former bee-farmer and NDB Master Beekeeper, led the course, supported by Sandra Rickwood of the Surrey BKA. It was well-constructed, illuminating and admittedly quite challenging. Most of all, Alastair stressed that this was a serious practical and theory examination over a three hour period which is designed to probe every aspect of the candidate’s beekeeping, apiary management, honey and hive products processing skills.

Learning About "Getting It Right"
Learning About “Getting It Right”

In short, a daunting prospect. But I already know that, pass or fail, I’ll be a better beekeeper for taking Alastair’s course and honing my beekeeping to his exacting standards. At the very least, I’ll avoid some of the many ways of “getting it wrong”.

Sandra Rickwood : Quiz Time - Does Privet Honey Taste Nice ?
Sandra Rickwood : Quiz Time – Does Privet Honey Taste Nice ?

Thanks to Alastair for his kind permission for me to use his photographs – and to Sandra for organising an excellent learning experience. And, by the way,  privet honey does not taste nice!

5 Replies to “Getting It Right”

  1. Looks great Dale. And yes the Gen. Husb. will be challenging. I’ve bottled out this year. Need to shed some of the club responsibilities first. There’s a short course coming up in Suffolk if you’re interested. I’ll send you the details. Penny

    1. Hi Penny, Thanks for that, trusty Beekeeping Association Secretary. From my observation last weekend, its record-keeping which inhibits a lot of beeks from taking the Assessment around here. I’m looking to attend the 23rd April GHA Course at Pettistree. Will confirm soon.

  2. It sounds very interesting. Will you be changing any of your practices as a result of the course and/or did you learn anything new?

    1. Hi Millie. In short, I realised that my practices, while good enough to achieve the desired outcomes, are vulnerable to being marked down to a “fail” on important, small details. My intention is to fill in those gaps and improve my technical implementation. I will also be fantastically well-prepared, in terms of kit in the apiary, to address all of the practical demonstrations. Finally, I will refine my finger-crossing technique.

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