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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 May 12th from 2pm till 4pm. Cost £5 - This one deals with what we understand about swarming: Why, when and how the bees prepare for it and how we as beekeepers can anticipate this event through a combination of observation and knowledge.
May 19th
from 2pm till 4pm. Cost £5
Will look at practical ways which we can employ to work with the bees and avoid losing them through swarming whilst still satisfying their instincts to propagate.

Click Here to Book

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 managements dilemmas to disease.

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 21st July 2018 from 11am till 4pm. Bring your own lunch. Cost £15

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Beyond Beginners

Four independent afternoon sessions for beekeepers who have kept bees for more than a season who wish to improve their knowledge and skills. Come with your own agenda. We are happy to discuss, show and tell your different ways of managing your bees from seasonal supervision to varroa control or assessing what is going on with your darlings girls. These sessions are informal but could be booked with a special agenda in mind.

Saturday 24th March; Saturday 28th April; Saturday 14th July; and Saturday 1st September - all from 2pm to 4pm. Cost £5 per session.

We would prefer you to book in advance so we know how to plan the afternoon.

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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 7th and 21st, May 5th and 19th, June 2nd, 16th and 30th, August 11th.

Beginners Course B, cost £100

Saturdays: April 14th and 28th, May 12th and 26th, June 9th and 23rd, August 4th and 18th.

Both courses are from 10am till 12pm.

***These courses are now fully booked. Please use the contact form below to enquire about any spaces becoming available due to cancellations***

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

It is impossible to learn everything there is to know during only 8 weeks so students are welcome to join our community beekeeping group on a Sunday afternoon, during or after the course has finished, to top up their experience and understanding.

This year we have decided to break the Queen rearing course into 4 distinct workshops. Each one will be an independent session which will concentrate on a different aspect of queen propagation and management. Each session can be booked as a one-off, or you may decide to do a block booking of all four to complete a comprehensive course.

Dates: all Saturday afternoons from 2pm - 5pm; Cost £12 each

26th May 2018 - Making Queen Bee Cells Part 1 -
How and why bees make queen cells? Simple methods to get the bees to produce them using the swarming and emergency instincts.
2nd June 2018 - Looking at the mechanisms bees use to make Queen Cells - How and why do bees make queen cells? Simple methods of getting them to produce them using the supersedure impulse.
9th June 2018 - Harvesting Cells and making Nucs - How to use your queen cells. Different ways of making and using nucleus hives (including mini nucs).
30th June 2018 - Checking for success and ways to utilise your results -  When and how to see if your virgin has mated; assessing your queens; queen introduction what to do it mating has failed.

All of these workshops will include practical show and tell as well as the theory which is essential for understanding the procedures involved in queen bee production. There will be copious hand outs available backing up all the information covered on the course.

Click Here to Book

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.

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 31st March, Saturday 7th July, Saturday 25th August and Saturday 8th 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

Click Here to Book

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: 6th; 13th; 20th; 27th.
June: 3rd; 10th; 17th; 24th.
July: 1st; 8th; 15th; 22rd; 29th.
August: 5th; 12th; 19th; 26th.

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 traveling expenses.

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Buckfast Bell Ringing Festival - 11th August 2018

The bells in the Buckfast Abbey Tower were given by Sir Robert Harvey. Emma Oxford, one of his relatives was present for the festival. In the photographs she is seen in the tower and in the Abbey Library where there is a bronze bust of Sir Robert. There are 15 bells in the tower with a full peal of 12 bells, 2 semitones and a Bourden bell. The Bourden bell is 7 and a half tonnes. During the ringing there was a live feed from both the ringing chamber and the bell chamber so that visitors did not have to climb the 192 steps to see the action!

Buckfast Food Festival - 21st July 2018

Summer Food Fair. Live cookery demonstrations with John Hughes, Ethan Clarke, David Beazley, Jim Fisher from Exeter Cookery School, Richard Hunt and with Fun Kitchen cookery workshops for children!

Plymouth Catholic Senior Schools Visit - 18th July 2018

Students from the Plymouth Catholic Senior Schools were entertained by 4Front Theatre Group with a presentation of the Fisherman's Tail. On the Sea of Galilee, Local fishermen Simon, Andrew, James & John tell a tale to beat them all, it involves a fishing competition, wherein a strange man appears .... The students also had an opportunity to explore the new interactive Monastic Way that offers an understanding of the monastic way of life.

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Kindness: a School Mass

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Baptism of Teddy

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'Come and Sing' Charity Choral Concert

Great music from great oratorios, including works by Handel, Mozart, Haydn and others. Stanborough Chorus Christopher Fletcher: Conductor

Organ Recital (Summer series) Part 1

Organ Recital (Summer series) Includes music by Gigout, Bach, Widor and Schumann.

Feast of the Dedication of the Abbey

Community celebration of Mass for parish, staff and Oblates followed by buffet lunch. Abbot President of the English Benedictine Congregation will preside at the Mass.