Guidance for Prospective New Members of the SDBKA
Anyone can join the Salisbury and District Bee Keepers Association, whether or not they already have bees. You are most welcome to attend one of our meetings before making up your mind whether to join. Until you have your own bees you can join as an Associate Member.
Associate Membership This costs only £6 a year, and entitles you attend all meetings and other events, and to book a place on our Beginners’ Training Course if you so wish. You will also receive our regular email newsletter, and you will have access to the members’ area of our website at www.sdbka.org.
When you have decided that beekeeping is definitely for you, and you feel ready to have your own bees, you can ask to have your name added to our local ‘swarm list’.
Full Membership The annual cost of full membership is currently £29. This additionally give you membership of the British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA), which entitles you to: - Receive regular issues of the BBKA journal (which is a superb educational resource) - Brood disease Insurance from BDI for up to three colonies and Public & Products liability Insurance up to £5 million - Access to the BBKA Examination Scheme.
Once you have your own bees you can also borrow SDBKA extraction equipment and books.
Beginners’ Training Course Our Training Officer, Dom Corcorran, runs a theory course in beekeeping for beginners over the winter months, followed by a four-week practical training course at our Association apiary in the Salisbury Cathedral Close. These practical sessions are held over four Sunday afternoons in April and May. Places are limited and the course is usually fully booked well in advance. If you are interested in beginner training please sign up on our Training page as soon as possible.
Committee The SDBKA Committee is elected annually at the AGM, and is responsible for day to day running of the Association. Sally Nelson is our Membership Secretary. If you have any questions about joining SDBKA you can contact Sally via the contact form on the website.
A bit about Beekeeping There is a lot to think about before you take up beekeeping, and it is important to do your homework before investing in bees and equipment. Joining your local Association is a good way to meet experienced beekeepers and to find out what beekeeping involves.
Suitable site You will need somewhere to keep your bees where they will not be a nuisance to neighbours or the public, preferably out of sight, sheltered, and with enough space for at least two hives. If your garden is not suitable it is usually possible to find somewhere else; SDBKA regularly receives enquiries from people offering to provide an apiary site for a local beekeeper. We can also advise you on whether a particular site is suitable for keeping bees.
Time You will need time to inspect your bees regularly (every week if possible) from around the beginning of April until at least the beginning of July in order to prevent swarming. You will also need to allow time for making up frames, cleaning equipment and extracting and bottling honey. We find that many new beekeepers have under-estimated the amount of time, knowledge and commitment required to care for colonies properly.
Equipment Beekeeping involves a not inconsiderable capital outlay. It is important to consider carefully which type of hive you want before buying your first hive, because the parts from different hive types are not interchangeable. They all have advantages and disadvantages, and it is helpful to talk to other beekeepers and do your research before you make your investment. SDBKA sometimes advertises second hand equipment for sale on behalf of retiring beekeepers, and many of the beekeeping equipment retailers have regular sales. The Association also has a range of extraction equipment which members are welcome to borrow free of charge.
Inspecting a large colony of bees can be quite intimidating at first, and it is a good idea to wait until you have gained a bit of confidence in handling bees before acquiring your own. Doing a training course will also give you an idea of the amount of time and work involved in looking after your bees. You don’t need to be an expert to begin beekeeping, but some basic training will help you to avoid the fundamental mistakes and ensure that both you and your bees survive your first year without any major disasters. And if you do run into problems there is always someone in your local Association whom you can call on for help.
The booklet "Starting Right with Bees" produced by the National Bee Unit gives useful information about the things to consider when taking up beekeeping.
If you want to do any more background reading, these are some of the beekeeping books that our members find most useful:
Guide to Bees and Honey (Ted Hooper) - around £10.50
Haynes Bee Manual: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Keeping Bees - around £16
Another good option is: The BBKA Guide to Beekeeping (Ivor Davis and Roger Cullum-Kenyon) - around £17