Study Groups

If you would like to understand more about your bees and beekeeping the BBKA Modules are a great way to do it. The association runs study groups in the evening that can lead to one of the 7 modules offered by the BBKA. They usually meet one evening a fortnight by arrangement. Though taking the assessment is a great way to demonstrate all you have learned there is no compulsion to sit the exams. The groups are a supportive way to study with a small group of fellow beekeepers bolstered by cake and coffee. If you are interested please contact the Education Secretary.

Microscopy Group

Bees are a fascinating insect, about which we still know so little. We are also always battling the pests and diseases that beset them . Microscopy allows you a window into this complex insect and adds to your understanding of their anatomy and threats to their health. We know the importance of good forage to honeybee health and looking at pollen and its presence in honey is all part of using your microscope to appreciate its importance more. A small microscopy group meets, by arrangement, with a view to taking the BBKA Microscopy Certificate, although those just interested in learning more are welcome. The group is suitable for those with no previous experience and a microscope can be provided if you want to see if it’s for you. Those who ‘get the bug’, may be interested in joining the Iceni Microscopy Study Group, about which you can find more on their website. For more information contact

Image is of pollen in a worker bee’s pollen basket (corbiculae).


There are a number of conferences throughout the year, some offering a programme of speakers and others combining them with workshops. Many counties hold annual events within reasonable distance and others are national. Essex Beekeepers’ annual conference is scheduled for October 2020 . Cambridge Beekeepers Association also hosts an annual event. As both these are within a reasonable distance they are well worth attending. The main national events are The BBKA Spring Convention held at Harper Adams University, usually at the beginning of April in Shropshire, and The National Honey Show at Sandown Park, Esher in October. Both have a range of lectures and workshops to cater for all levels of experience. Both post videos of the main speakers on line. Although not a conference, Beetradex, the trade show held at Stoneleigh each year, also offers lectures. It is also worth mentioning a great conference held in Ireland by the Federation of Irish Beekeepers at Gormanston near Dublin. Certainly worth a visit and maybe combine with a trip round Ireland.

BBKA Examinations and Assessments

There are two strands of learning that the BBKA offer that complement each other. The first is a set of practical assessments starting with the Basic Assessment and leading to Master Beekeeper. The second is a series of theoretical modules to increase understanding about the bees and other aspects of the craft. The exams take place in March and November each year. Not everyone will want to confirm their understanding by sitting the exam, but it is certainly worth following the syllabi either on your own, with a correspondence course, or in a study group. Beekeeping is about life long learning.


There is a tremendous amount of information available in the form of books, events/conferences and websites. There is a lot of good free information on the internet; however, do be aware that some of the views and practices expressed are those of a particular beekeeper and not always considered best practice by others! This could be an endless list of books, magazines, websites and more.

Everyone will discover their own favourites, here are some of ours to help point you in the right direction!

(Image shows a queen laying)

  • American biologist/bee farmer Randy Oliver, researches many beekeeping questions. An excellent site.
  • An A-Z of beekeeping. Great for information and plans for anything you need to build/make.
  • Professor David Evans is a virologist currently based at the University of St Andrews. He is currently working on Deformed Wing Virus. He is an experienced beekeeper whose site is well worth visiting.
  • Beebase The site for the national bee unit. It is recommended that beekeepers register on the site in order to receive alerts on disease and starvation etc. The site has excellent advice sheets on disease and other aspects of beekeeping. Beebase near York is the home of the bee inspectors.
  • Varroa Calculator Tool at BeeBase.
  • British Beekeepers Association The Nationwide Beekeepers’ Association.
  • Suffolk Beekeepers – The Suffolk Beekeepers’ Association.
  • Beekeeping Forum Discussion and advice on bees; an excellent insight into the joys, trials and tribulations of beekeeping.
  • Bumblebee Conservation Trust As fascinating as honey bees, bumble bees and their habits are well worth knowing about.
  • WBKA Document Library Welsh Beekeepers’ Association’s helpful documents.
  • Various Handbooks / Manuals Various helpful documents on the United Diversity website.
  • Internet Archive (Various) An amazing selection of archived books, magazines and articles.
  • Haynes Beekeeping Manual
  • BBKA Guide to Beekeeping
  • Guide to Bees and Honey Ted Hooper
  • Understanding Bee Anatomy Ian Stell
  • The Honey Bee Inside and Out Celia Davis
  • The Honey Bee Round and About Celia Davis
  • Plants and Honey Bees their relationship David Aston and Sally Bucknall
  • Any of the many books by Tom Seeley. A professor at Cornel University in the States he has researched, lectured and written about bees. Honeybee Ecology, The Wisdom of the Hive, Honeybee Democracy, Following the WIld Bees, The Life of Bees, Darwinian Beekeeping.
Classic Books
  • Anything by Eva Crane: A quantum physicist in the 40s she changed career to study bees!
    • Honey a Comprehensive Survey,
    • A Book of Honey,
    • The Archaeology of Beekeeping,
    • The World History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting,
    • Bees and Beekeeping science, practice and resources.
  • Pheromones of Social Bees – John Free.
  • The Social Organisation of Honey Bees – John Free.
  • The Dancing Bees – Karl Von Frisch.
  • At the Hive Entrance – H Storch.

  • BeeCraft A useful and entertaining monthly magazine.
  • Bee World Bee World is IBRA’s popular journal, available free to IBRA members.
  • Bee Culture The Magazine of American Beekeeping.
  • Beekeepers’ Quarterly The Beekeepers Quarterly is an international English language beekeeping journal published by Northern Bee Books since 1984.
  • Bee Improvement Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders Association Magazine.

Just a few to get you started…