Ian Homer inspecting a Guernsey bee hive


Since the rise in popularity of beekeeping the GBKA are aiming to run a course every year for new beekeepers – this will give the basic theory of beekeeping and will also provide participants with some practical lessons in hands on beekeeping in various hives.

The course contains theory during late winter and the early part of spring, moving onto the practical during the late spring and summer. If anyone is interested in attending a course, please email contact details and any relevant information to this site gbka@suremail.gg and your name will be kept on record for future contact when details on a new course is organised.

The GBKA strongly advise anybody who is interested in keeping bees to sign up to one of these courses. If after attending a course, you move on to wanting to keep bees yourself, like many rewarding hobbies, beekeeping takes time, effort, training and a reasonable quantity of money and should not be taken on lightly.

As a new beekeeper we will also endeavour to pair you up with a more experienced beekeeper as your bee buddy. The role of the bee buddy is up to the pairing of the individuals. Sometimes this is can be just answering your questions or they may join you when you open your hive the first few times. Your bee buddy may take you to their hives and start giving you advice on handling bees etc. etc. You might wish to start your first year as a bee buddy of an experienced beekeeper and spend the season learning and getting your first swarm the next year.

As a society we also run regular events for our members suitable for beginners and the more experienced.


EQUIPMENT

There are some rules concerning the purchase of equipment.

You cannot buy second hand equipment from off island and bring it here – nor can you bring your equipment with you should you have been a beekeeper somewhere else in the world.

To protect Guernsey’s bees from infection you must not import or bring in second hand equipment from other countries [including the UK]. This also includes bees -- Please see the paragraphs on HOW DO YOU GET BEES IN GUERNSEY?

American Foul Brood [which will require the hive and its contents to be destroyed by burning] and European Foul Brood are the two major concerns of the GBKA, neither of which has been found in the island for 30 years. The Association wishes this to remain the case.

However you can import new equipment without any problem. There are plenty of places that will sell equipment to you! We do also have a local supplier namely, Ruth and Mike Collins, who should be able to help you CLICK HERE
Sometimes we have second hand equipment for sale in the society – but it is wise not to rely on this option as this does not happen too often.

If you are good at woodwork you can always make your own equipment. We have several beekeepers who have taken this option successfully and it will keep the cost of beekeeping down.

Most catalogues, internet sites and the local supplier will advise the basic amount of equipment you will need. The type of hive you wish to use is your own preference and this maybe worth discussing with another beekeeper before you purchase anything. There are many types of hives on the market, but sometime it is better to follow what others use – if you are stuck in an emergency you may be able to get a loan or purchase a new piece quite quickly and sometimes the bees won’t wait.

SITING YOUR HIVE

This is quite important! One of our experienced bee keepers can come along and give you some advice on the most appropriate area to site it. You should give consideration to your neighbours if this is to be in your back garden. Your hive should always be sited where it does not cause nuisance to members of the public or to livestock. During the year there will be times when even the sweetest of bees will be more defensive and bad tempered.

HOW DO YOU GET BEES IN GUERNSEY?

It is not possible to legally import bees into the island as no supplier within the EU or outside it for that matter can legally meet the insect health requirements required to obtain the necessary licence from the States of Guernsey.
It is illegal to import bees into the island without this and failure to follow the procedure, will see the imported bees and the equipment destroyed by HM Customs plus a fine.
Importation brings the risk of bringing new diseases and infections or new strains of diseases and infections into the island that our local bees are currently free of and will be unable or poorly adapted to deal with.

No responsible beekeeper would wish to inflict this on the local bee colonies.

There are several beekeepers on the island that breed bees plus the GBKA have a swarm capture system, which should be able to provide you with bees. Due to the increase in popularity of beekeeping, the demand for colonies of bees is high and subsequently there may be a delay with supply. We hope that you will agree that it is far preferable to wait for your bees and have them healthy, than risk the introduction of disease.

As outlined above, we do not have some of the diseases found in the UK and elsewhere. We want to keep these out of the island. This is very important for all of the bees and beekeepers in Guernsey, so we ask you not to import bees from anywhere, even with the necessary certificates. We also stress that you must not bring in second hand beekeeping equipment to the island.

This does make beekeeping a little different from the mainland, where it is usual for a beekeeper to buy their bees to get them started.

In Guernsey beekeepers tend to get their first hive of bees as a swarm. Every year the GBKA compile a swarm list. As a member of the GBKA, (CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE GBKA) you can fill out the form and once on the list, you wait for a swarm to become available.

Swarms start from late April and normally continue for a couple of months and sometimes even later. Some years we have more swarms than others and most years there are more people who request swarms than there are swarms available. We therefore, cannot guarantee that you will receive one the first time of asking. Recently, there have been one or two of the more experienced beekeepers who have started selling ‘nucs’ (small colonies of bees) to new beekeepers – this is another way that you can obtain bees in Guernsey.

BEEKEEPING BOOKS

There are a number of good beekeeping books on the market

Ted Hooper – Guide to Bees and Honey
Clive de Bruyn – Practical Beekeeping
James Dearsley – From A to Bee (a very light read that gives a little bit of insight into the first year as a beekeeper)

FAQ

Looking for brood
Shown here are some answers to some possible questions that new or prospective beekeepers may wish to know.


2017 suggested HONEY PRICES

One Pound Jar £8.00
1/2 Pound Jar £5.00


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