Funding Success Stories (Hammersmith): Beginner’s Beekeeping Course

Innovation Fund Feedback from our friend Ali at Bees and Refugees

Bees and Refugees were awarded the Innovation Fund to run a four week beginners beekeeping course online via Zoom. This project was collaboration between Bees and Refugees and Hammersmith Community Gardens Association (HCGA). The sessions took place on Thursday evenings in January and February 2021, with each session lasting 1.5 hours, in total 6 hours teaching time. 

The course covered the following topics:

Class #1: Introduction to the honeybee

The biology of the bee, stages of bee development, types of bees in the hive, species of bees, bee dances, components of honey and its benefits, the bee in mythology.

Class #2: Introduction to the beekeeper

History of beekeeping, beekeeping equipment, types of hives, comparative beekeeping (commercial vs. organic) (European vs. Asian vs. Arab vs. African), Beekeeping in the UK.

Class #3: Getting started with beekeeping

Personal health and safety introduction, when and where to start, introducing a new hive, carrying out inspections, caring for the hive in winter, the rules of feeding.

Class #4: Up keeping the hive & Growing colonies sustainably

Checking for diseases, methods of treatment, managing bee predators. What is a swarm? Ways of splitting hives, catching a swarm, and queen rearing.

Ali stated that once restrictions ease, they hope to be able to invite the participants from this last course to attend a hands-on beekeeping session at HCGA’s site, Phoenix Farm in White City.

Ali said that there was 4 of volunteers from Bees and Refugees and 5 of our volunteers from HCGA attended the course. The volunteers had many varying reasons for volunteering with the project which includes to improve their mental health and wellbeing, to help them feel less isolated and feel more socially connected with people in their community. 

Ali said that there were 43 people that the project was able to support people in total, 20 of which completed the whole course. Ali informed me that 70% of the participants said they really enjoyed the course and 88% of participants said the course gave them a good understanding of the basics of beekeeping.

Some achievements of the project can be reflected in the feedback left by participants. Ali asked participants if the course had made a positive difference to their well-being to which 76% said it had. When asked to describe how it had made a positive difference to their well-being, responses included:

 “The course was very interesting which made me look forward to the sessions. It gave me something positive to focus on. It was nice to be part of a group again. Although I am not planning to keep bees I am planning to increase the diversity of plants in my garden to attract them so that has been good to plan.”

“It does wonders for my mental health.”

“The course helped me feel less isolated and the friendliness of the course leaders and participants cheered me up during these dark days of lockdown in the pandemic.”

“It has moved me further along in pursuing a goal that I set for myself several years ago.”

Ali stated “We think this online project was a lifeline for some of the participants during the third lockdown; it helped reduce people’s level of social isolation and we tried to create a nurturing and enjoyable space for people to learn about beekeeping “.

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