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Useful Information
BBKA Exams

The syllabi for the BBKA module exams have been updated for 2022.

The updated syllabi are available on the BBKA website alongside updated reading lists:

The updated syllabi are also attached to the email receipt when applying for a module.


Applicants before 1st Oct 2021 will have received a separate email with the new syllabi.

Honey Bees in History

It is thought that bees originally evolved from hunting wasps which acquired a taste for nectar and decided to become vegetarians. Fossil evidence is sparse but bees probably appeared on the planet about the same time as flowering plants in the Cretaceous period, 146 to 74 million years ago. The oldest known fossil bee, a stingless bee named Trigona prisca, was found in the Upper Cretaceous of New Jersey, U.S.A. and dates from 96 to 74 million years ago. It is indistinguishable from modern Trigona. The precursor of the honeybees may have been living about this time, but fossils of the true Apis type were first discovered in the Lower Miocene (22 to 25 million years ago) of Western Germany.


Since honey bee colonies, and hence queen honey bees, can survive a number of years a system of Queen marking colours has been devised which, if followed, give an indication of the age of the Queen. The Queen is marked with a spot of paint on her thorax (between the head and abdomen) and the colour scheme is as follows:
See Chart Below.   e.g. In 2020 the Queen = BLUE   - 2021 = WHITE

COLOUR             YEARS

White              =       1    +  6 

Yellow             =     2    +  7

Red                 =      3    +  8   

Green              =     4    +  9   

Blue                =      5    +  0 

Queen Bee Marking
Bee Removal

If you have a swarm of bees and wish them to be removed please visit the swarm advice page on the BBKA website where you will find an interactive map with details of the beekeeper nearest to you who is willing to provide assistance.

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Honey Recipes

Honey Butterscotch




2 cups honey

Half cup melted butter

Quarter teaspoon of salt

A few drops of essence, vanilla or almond or both



Boil honey until it sets when dropped into cold water.

Stir in melted butter, salt and essence.

Pour onto a cool greased plate.

Cut into squares.

Wrap in waxed paper when cold.





8 oz (227g) Mixed dried fruit

3 oz (85g) Plain Flour

5 oz (142g) Self Raising Flour

6 oz (170) Margarine

4 oz (113g) Brown Sugar

3 eggs

1 oz (28g) Ground Almonds

4 oz (113g) Clear Honey

Sprinkle of demerara sugar




Grease and line base of 7 inch (18cm) tin.

Cream together margarine and sugar.

Gradually add beaten eggs.

Beat in honey.

Fold in mixed flours, ground almonds and fruit.

Turn into prepared tin and sprinkle lightly with demerara sugar. 


Bake at Gas mark 4 or 180 degrees centigrade for 1.25 hours until risen and evenly brown all over.

Honey Fudge



1 lb (453g) granulated sugar

2 oz (57g) butter

Quarter pint evaporated milk

Quarter teaspoon of salt

2 tablespoons (40g) honey



Boil sugar, salt and milk for 5 minutes.

Add honey and boil until at “soft ball stage” 240 degrees F (115 degrees C).

Add butter and allow to stand until lukewarm.

Beat until creamy.

Pour into a buttered dish.

When nearly set mark into squares.

So, You want to to Keep Bees! - Your Pathway


Bees are fascinating creatures in themselves with the added bonus of honey. As with any challenging hobby, you will need specific skills, knowledge, and time.


Let’s explore some key questions that you need to ask and answer yourself before you start your beekeeping adventure.


Who are my local experts and how can they support me?

Find out more about our events and meet people who can support your beekeeping journey throughout the year. Discover how we collaborate with other local beekeeping groups, offer meetings and apiary visits, hire equipment, and lend bee suits. Novices who demonstrate their commitment to good beekeeping will find a Mentor within the Group. Your Mentor will provide advice and assistance to help you through the initial seasons of managing your bees.


Do I have enough time?

Bees are livestock and require active management, you will need to arrange someone to look after your bees when you can’t or go on holiday. Each hive requires about 30 mins to 45mins a week between April and October. Annual honey harvesting takes time and coordination, in winter external inspections are essential. Hives need maintenance and preparation throughout the year. You will need to attend learning events for the skills and knowledge to care for your bees.


Can I handle bees safely and with confidence?

Most beekeepers get stung occasionally, a few people suffer severe reactions to bee stings and carry an epipen for allergic emergencies. It is essential to get hands-on experience to see if bees are for you. Attend our seasonal hive inspections and apiary events with real live bees and spend time with an experienced local beekeeper.


Do I know enough to manage my bees?

There is a lot to learn, an introductory course will support you gain the basic knowledge to look after your bees and hive. Undertake your own research, our experienced members  will tell you about the best books and reliable guides.


Where can I keep my bees?

In your garden – Consider your pets, children, and neighbours. On a roof – Consider safe access with heavy equipment. On unused land – Get the landowners permission first. On another beekeeper’s apiary


What equipment do I need?

For beginners we recommend using National Hives as they are affordable, easy to use, swop and replace. Complete start up kits are readily available and your bee keeping community can offer extra advice and often have second hand kit for sale.  

  • A bee suit, disposable gloves, and wellington boots for basic personal protection

  • A smoker, to calm bees and a hive tool for inspections

  • A feeder, to give bees extra nourishment when times are hard


How do I get my bees?

For a variety of reasons, it is not recommended that you buy bees from abroad, the internet or through the post. We can provide you with local association members who can supply you with your ‘Local Starter Nuc’ of bees usually in June/July


Welcome to the craft of beekeeping. Take plenty of time to enjoy your experiences.

Acquire your new skills with friendship, patience, and care.

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