My first beekeeping class

For a while now I’ve been interested in keeping bees. That’s why I signed up to my local beekeeping course for beginners, run by the East of Scotland Beekeepers’ Association (ESBA). The first class was invaluable – here’s what I learned.

From a young age, bees have inspired me. Ever since I saw a glass hive at the Discovery museum in Newcastle I’ve been fascinated by bees themselves and the idea of having access to honey that’s come from bees in my garden. But unlike chickens and growing vegetables, beekeeping is complicated. Or at least it seems to me to be that way.

First of all, after this first class, my thoughts were confirmed. Beekeeping is a complex, but rewarding hobby. This was conveyed clearly as the organisers spoke with passion and knowledge while highlighting the practicalities of such a hobby.


The first part of the class was focused on getting the terminology right. We learned about:

  • the various species of bees and their origin
  • types of honeybee in the hive
  • differences between queens, workers and drones.
  • aspects of bee biology
  • bees native to Scotland (Apis mellifera mellifera)


The second part was more practical and focused on the equipment needed for beekeeping. We were shown the various types of hives available, how they were compromised, and how they differ from one another. It seems that bees prefer polystyrene hives over the traditional wooden ones (National Hives) that are popular with beekeepers. This is because they’re better insulated, cheaper and a bit lighter too. (With up to 40,000 bees and their honey, a hive can easily weigh over 35lbs.)


The cost of keeping bees was also clearly laid out. They really didn’t sugar coat anything. After doing some research before the class, I knew that getting all the equipment and the bees wasn’t going to be cheap, so it was great to see the costs broken down by someone who has done it all before. Setting up can cost over £200 – but in the next

Setting up can cost over £200 – but in the next class, we’re going to learn how you can get bees for free, which should be interesting.

I left the class feeling optimistic and very glad that I signed up for the four-week course. With some subjects, I find that first-hand instruction is paramount to learning a skill effectively. I would recommend to anyone interested in beekeeping to get in touch with your local association before investing too heavily into anything – their knowledge is priceless.

Sidenote: I hope you realise just how many bee-puns I had to restrain from putting in this post!

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