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Bee Keeping Events and Courses

Bee Keeping Events and Courses

The bee department at Buckfast Abbey has changed from honey production to education. Yes, the bees still make honey, which we harvest for the Benedictine Community who live at the Abbey, but we concentrate on the welfare of the bees and try to practice gentle bee keeping.

By learning about bees we can engage with them, respond more appropriately to their needs, and try to help with any problems which they could encounter - this could be anything from parasite control to starvation. We aim to work alongside each colony during every season and remain as flexible and responsive to the environment as they do.

This involves respectful and mindful management of the bees, as well as gentle handling, which takes into account their natural behaviors and instincts. Each colony has her own character, her own name and is important.

Swarming: A fresh approach

This two part seminar/workshop will help you understand the complexities of swarming behavior and demonstrate various methods to stop you losing your bees by working with their natural instincts.

Saturday Afternoons on the 22nd April and the 6th May from 2pm till 4pm. Cost £10

Clare and Martin's (Bee Agony Auntie's) Morning Surgery

Come and chat about your bees. Together we can thrash out solutions for any problems you may have with your girls from management dilemmas to disease. Or just come for coffee and a chat with other bee keepers to while away a Saturday morning. A problem shared is lightened and made less intimidating when you can discuss it with like-minded folk! Saturday morning on 1st of July or the morning of 15th of July from 10am till 12pm. Cost is £5.

Disease Day

How to recognise when things are not going right for your colony. Plenty of hand on experience including a practical workshop session looking at actual combs illustrating the most common brood diseases and problems.

Saturday 22nd July from 11am till 4pm. Bring your own lunch. Cost £10

A mixture of theory and practical experience to start you off on your journey with honey bees. The course is designed to cover most of the bee keeping season from the spring build up and swarming to honey harvest and the preparation of bees for winter. We will be running two beginners' courses in tandem every other week. This enables us to keep the group numbers low and allows some flexibility between groups, (if you can't make it one week you could always join the other group session the next).

Beginners Course A, cost £100

Saturdays: April 8th and 22nd, May 6th and 20th, June 3rd and 17th, August 5th and 19th.

Beginners Course B, cost £100

Saturdays: April 5th and 29th, May 13th and 27th, June 10th and 24th, August 12th and 26th.

Both courses are from 10am till 12pm.

Please note, there are no clases in July to give the bees a break and to allow students holidays.

Propagating queen bees and new colonies needn't be complicated or too technical. Anyone can have a go as long as you have a basic grasp of the bee's natural rhythm and mating behaviors. We will teach you about these.

This course will also cover a variety of techniques and methods which any beekeeper can employ to create anything from a few new queens to improve your stock, to making increase, and maybe providing queens for others.

Come with an open mind and experience the excitement and sense of achievement when everything goes right, (also learn that you cannot control everything and how to pick yourself up, try again and adapt when things don't go as planned!)

Dates: Saturday afternoons from 2pm - 4pm, 3rd and 17th June and 1st and 15th July.

That is four sessions spaced two weeks apart starting in June and finishing in July.

Cost £100

Join us every Sunday for an afternoon of beekeeping. We have around 8 colonies that we look after together in a beautiful woodland setting. This is an ideal opportunity to get more 'hands on' experience if you have completed a course but anyone can come to just watch and learn, including children. We can provide suits. There is no commitment so you may come as often or as little as you wish. This activity is free but it would be nice if you could make a small contribution to cover drinks, or bring along a food/drink donation.

After we have finished looking after the bees we all go back to the Bee Barn for tea/coffee and bee chart.

We usually meet at 1.30pm at the Bee Barn so we can lift share to the Apiary. Check with Clare first in case plans have changed.

If you haven't been before email: or telephone 07944504283 in advance so that we know that you are coming.

April to September 2017 - for people thinking about taking up beekeeping.

We will be running four separate days on the following dates (this is not a four week course - each day is a self-contained unit which is repeated to allow more opportunities to attend).

Saturday 1st April, Saturday 29th July, Saturday 2nd September and Saturday 16th September.

The day starts at 11am and finishes at 4pm with an hour for lunch (bring your own or dine at the Grange restaurant on site). We will be giving you and overview of the basic responsibilities and commitments involved in keeping bees alongside the costs and where best to get your kit. You will have the chance to see inside a hive and experience the fascinating world of honey bee first hand. A full information pack will be given out for you to keep.

Cost: £25

This is not a substitute for a bee keeping course. It's an attempt to let you know what you might be letting yourself in for if you decide to take up bee keeping as a hobby!

We love people visiting our bees
Bee keeping groups or other hobby clubs/ institutions, are all welcome whether you have any knowledge about bees or not. It could be just a group of friends or a family group who want to experience the wonder of bees up close and personal. Family groups must be accompanied by at least one adult. Then youngest child age restriction is 5 years.

All visits last a couple of hours and can include a talk, a visit to the bees (bee suits provided and weather permitting) and some light refreshments with a chance to chat and ask questions. The maximum group size is around 10 (give or take a few)
These dates are available for Abbey visits (all on Sunday mornings between 10am and 12pm). The charge is £5 per adult and £2 for a child

May: 7th; 14th; 21st; 28th.
June: 4th; 11th; 18th; 25th.
July: 2nd; 9th; 16th; 23rd; 30th.
August: 6th; 13th; 20th; 27th.

You need to pre-book visits preferably by email but you can write or phone.

Clare and Martin are available to give talks to your local hobby group; association; school; or establishment. The topics which we offer range from a general bee keeping talk for complete beginners to specialized selection of subject matter from disease to swarming or history to biology. We can come to you with a projector and laptop or you could come to us.

We charge £30 plus travel expenses.

Outreach and mentoring

We can help you with your bees at home by coming out and troubleshooting or advising you on management issues. We charge £10/ hour plus travelling expenses.

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Blessing of Oulton Abbey Care Home - 6th September 2017

The new Care Home at Oulton Abbey was blessed by Abbot David on Wednesday 6th September. In the 20th century Buckfast supplied five chaplains for the Benedictine Nuns of Oulton and we continue our association with Oulton to this day. The Care Home in the former school was opened in the 1980s. The buildings were no longer up to the standard required thus a new care home was built in the grounds of the Abbey. As a point of interest the Abbey Church was the first church designed by Edward Pugin when only 19 years old. He was the son of A W Pugin.

Summer Food Fair - 15th July 2017

Locally sourced produce available in the Abbey grounds. The event organised by The Grange, the restaurant adjacent to the Abbey Church.

Run to the Son - 23rd-25th June 2017

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Garden Philosophy and Organics

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Plymouth Diocese Silent Retreat in October

Choose from: Friday 6th to Sunday 8th of October (weekend retreat) Monday 9th of to Friday 13th of October (midweek retreat) Friday 6th of to Friday 13th October (6 day retreat)

Buckfast Abbey: History, Art and Architecture - Book Launch and Conference

Come and attend this unique occasion to hear from highly respected authors who have contributed to the forthcoming publication "Buckfast Abbey: History, Art and Architecture" edited by Rev Peter Beacham.