The 2020 Beginner Beekeeper course is about to launch with eleven participants set to attend their induction session on 2 August. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that the 2019 cohort who were meant to sit their examination in June were not able to do do. The Scottish Beekeepers Association decided that no practical examinations would be held this year which was a great disappointment to both participants and mentors alike. They will not be able to take the examination until June of next year. A good number of them including Bill Caldwell were keen to have their own bees and had made arrangements to get their first colony. The apiary site was ready and the new hive painted awaiting the arrival of the colony.
The hive ready and waiting at the bottom of the garden
A more colourful residence you could not want
Bill took delivery of his bees last week and will continue to be supported by his mentor Paul Whyte under the expert guidance of the NBA apiary manager Lorraine Aitken.
What has Bill got to say about his experience over the past year?
"I tried to get into the Basic Beekeeping Course in 2019 but missed the cut and had to make do with a very early application for 2020 which thankfully was accepted! I feel excited and nervous at the same time now that i have finally gotten my bees home. Its been an odd experience going back into learning after 40 odd years of work, further complicated by the coronavirus outbreak but the mentoring assistance from Paul and Lorraine has given me the confidence to go ahead without the final few months of hands on experience and although it’s disappointing not to be able to take the exam, the support from the mentors and others in the association will help with the early nerves and I’m sure get me through the exam(when it eventually happens!)"
Paul had this to say
“I completed my basic bee master exam in 2019, after completion the thought of mentoring did not occur to me immediately but after discussion with fellow members at a monthly meeting I decided to give it a go, with Lorraine as backup mentor, this support provided a much needed reassurance.
Mentoring Bill with the practical aspects last year was very satisfying, observing how his knowledge grows from each inspection to the next. The outbreak of the COVID 19 brought unique challenges in terms of mentoring, Lorraine and I made videos and sent them to Bill, and if he had any questions he would get in touch.
COVID 19 aside mentoring students and passing on the art that is beekeeping is a very rewarding and satisfying responsibility. I’m addition to this I feel it helps consolidate and build on existing knowledge. I would encourage any member thinking about mentoring to give it a go.”
And finally Lorraine
"As a mentor It is extremely satisfying to see foster parents develop into competent and confident mentors in their own right. When a foster parent goes on to get their own colony of bees you know you have been effective in passing on the bee bug! Bill’s hive also makes me think I need to revise my apiary colour scheme"