NDB Short Courses

Now in their third year, these two-day courses are intended for those involved in teaching and mentoring within their local associations, and for those who are studying towards the more advanced UK Beekeeping Association assessments. They are led by NDB-qualified tutors and are restricted to small groups, offering a challenging environment in which real learning and useful discussion can take place.

Venues are used which allow courses to be run close to students from most parts of England and Wales. Each venue is equipped with modern teaching and laboratory facilities. Details of local accommodation and transport links can be provided upon request.

Month Date Course Title Lead Tutor Venue
Sept 20, 21 Queen Raising new date Ken Basterfield Devon
Sept 26, 27 Brood Diseases new date Dan Basterfield Devon
Sept 28, 29 Adult Diseases new date Ken Basterfield Devon
Oct 11, 12 Honeybee Behaviour new date Dan Basterfield Harper Adams
Oct 11, 12 Seasonal Management new date Ivor Davis Harper Adams
Oct 24, 25 Microscopy new date Ken Basterfield Devon
Oct 26, 27 Anatomy & Dissection new date Dan Basterfield Devon

The fee is now only £75 per student per course due to a generous subsidy from the FERA Healthy Bees Plan. This fee includes all consumables, course handouts, refreshments and a light lunch on both days. For expert tuition by highly-qualified tutors, this represents very good value for money.


BBKA Assessments & NDB Short Courses

The NDB Short Courses can provide valuable discussion, learning, and hands-on experience for those planning to take the BBKA Assessments above Basic level. The following table indicates which Short Courses are relevant to each of the BBKA assessments:

BBKA Assessment NDB Short Course
Mod 1 - Honeybee Management Seasonal Management
Mod 2 - Products and Forage Pollen and Nutrition
Mod 3 - Honeybee Pests & Diseases Adult Diseases, Brood Diseases, IPM, Microscopy
Mod 5 - Honeybee Biology Anatomy & Dissection, Microscopy
Mod 6 - Honeybee Behaviour Honeybee Behaviour, Seasonal Management
Mod 7 - Queen Raising Queen Raising & Stock Improvement
General Husbandry Seasonal Management
Advanced Husbandry Queen Raising & Stock Improvement, Seasonal Management, Teaching for Beekeepers
Microscopy Adult Diseases, Brood Diseases, Microscopy, Pollen and Nutrition

Short Course application forms

Each training centre has a host who coordinates arrangements and handles course bookings. Please print, complete, and return the form appropriate to your chosen course centre:

Bromsgrove training centre application form

Cardiff training centre application form

Devon training centre application form

Harper Adams application form

Kent training centre application form

Joining instructions with course outline, what to bring, and venue information will be sent to students shortly before each course.


Course outlines

The following summaries give an indication of what is covered in each Short Course:

Adult Bee Diseases

We will develop an understanding of how colony health is affected by Acarine, Amoeba, Nosema, and the common viruses, and how these disorders can be managed. Practical work will complement this by providing field diagnosis and laboratory skills to allow positive diagnoses to be made, supporting timely and appropriate treatments.

Anatomy and Dissection

Studying honeybee anatomy helps beekeepers understand how bees have are able to carry out the many and varied tasks they perform. Honeybees have been evolving for 100 million years and have become superbly adapted to survive and prosper in their environment. The aim of this course is to study, explore and gain an understanding of honeybee anatomy and to learn the techniques required to carry out successful dissection.

Branch Microscopy

This is a version of the 'Adult Bee Diseases' course with the emphasis on training Branch Microscopists who can lead or assist with diagnostic services for a local Association. With an introduction/refresher to the compound and dissecting microscopes, we practice the diagnosis of Acarine, Amoeba, and Nosema diseases. Treatment strategies and recommendations are outlined. Sampling of adult bees and storage/postage of samples is discussed, along with the logistics of running an Association 'Nosema Day' to encourage awareness and diagnosis of potential problems.

Brood Diseases

We will explore the impact of the various conditions affecting the developing brood, practice recognition in the comb and look at associated aspects such as disease spread, prevalence, preventative measures and treatments. This wide-ranging examination of brood diseases is designed to provide would-be association tutors with the knowledge and confidence to be able to cascade this important information.

Honeybee Behaviour

We will explore honeybee behaviour in areas such as seasonal population variation, communication mechanisms, foraging behaviour and organisation, workload distribution, and swarming. In each of these we are looking to know what is understood to be the factors that influence honeybee behaviour, and the possible outcomes in relation to different influences. Through understanding the natural behaviour of honeybees, we can better prepare ourselves as beekeepers to respond to their needs.

Integrated Pest Management

We will cover all aspects of varroa and cover the potential threat from other exotic pests of honeybees. Integrated Pest Management is a widely-used tool in agriculture in order to minimise the use of chemicals for pest control. The techniques help to keep populations of pests at levels below the threshold at which they damage their hosts thus delaying the use of such chemicals and helping to avoid or delay the onset of resistance of pests to effective treatments.

Microscopy for Beekeepers

The microscope is a powerful tool which can provide a great deal of insight into the health and environment of our honeybees. We develop an understanding of both the compound and dissecting microscopes, with clear explanations of optical principles and practical steps to set-up and get the most out of these instruments. Using practical examples of honeybee anatomy, disease diagnosis, and pollen analysis, students will be able to practice many of the skills required of an Association Microscopist or for the BBKA Microscopy certificate.

Pollen and Nutrition

As beekeepers, we watch the comings and goings from a busy hive and have to wonder where they are foraging, what flowers are they visiting and what the resultant honey will be like? We may have a few clues to help us - the colour of the pollen loads on the legs of returning bees or perhaps we have seen a patch of flowers covered in honey bees, but that is about as far as we can go. We will examine all aspects of pollen, from its production by flowering plants to its extraction from honey and microscopic identification.

Queen Raising and Stock Improvement

Queen raising from selected stocks allows us to improve our bees by spreading and encouraging favoured characteristics, not least by ensuring that our bees are healthy and well-adapted to their local environment. This course provides an insight into the establishment and operation of a mid-sized queen raising system, using an operational queen raising apiary as the basis of practical work. Hands-on activities are key to the course and include such aspects as setting up a queen raising system, grafting, preparation and stocking of mating nucs, and queen introduction.

Seasonal Management

Winter colony losses are regarded as a critical measurement of beekeeper success and broader honeybee survival. We view winter preparations as part of the natural seasonal cycle of beekeeping activity, and look to understand how the aims for our beekeeping and the management decisions we take at different times of the year may affect wintering readiness and success. We look in detail at the balance between objectives, aspirations, options, and unplanned events during the active seasons, and how these accommodate or disrupt a colony's inherent seasonal cycle.

Teaching for Beekeeping Tutors

Developed by a qualified and experienced teacher, this is a distillation of the City & Guilds 7303 course, aimed specifically at beekeeping tutors and addressing typical learning situations encountered in the apiary, classroom, and when giving talks. We investigate the different methods by which adults learn, and how to apply this to maintain both interest and attention whilst delivering information more effectively. Through a series of practical and pertinent examples, tutors will improve their confidence and ability to impart their beekeeping knowledge and experience to others.


Short Course queries

Please direct queries relating to the Short Courses to the appropriate training centre coordinator:

Devon & Harper Adams training centre queries to Dan Basterfield NDB email contact

Kent, Cardiff & Bromsgrove training centre queries to Bob Smith NDB email contact