How to plan training during Covid-19

Following several members contacting us, we have put together some advice for local branches planning to hold practicals during Covid-19.

We would like to hear from Branch Associations and Members that have already started to do training exercises during the current pandemic on what practical guidance they have put in place and if they would like to add or give feedback on our new web page.

Very little beekeeping training has gone on during Covid-19 due to the difficulties of social distancing and local lockdowns.

We are collating a list of advice that associations can offer each other during the coming year. If you have tried a particular practical approach and have found that it’s worked please let us know and we will add this to this page, either as a case study or just a short description.

Some associations have managed to keep their stores open to members using social distancing - this includes Chesterfield beekeepers
Many are now offering video meetings. 

Firstly, all associations planning beekeeping training need to carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment.

What to include in your COVID-19 risk assessment (PDF)- Portable Document Format.

You must:

  • identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus
  • think about who could be at risk
  • decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed
  • act to remove the activity or situation, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk

    The HSE provide a list of risk points to consider, but there may be additional aspects relating to beekeeping that should be considered.

For beekeeping practical sessions

You might consider the following prior to organising sessions and ensure this is adhered to during the practical session.

Ensure no sharing of bee suits, gloves or other personal equipment. 

Marking spots at 2m around the hive (and 1m so you can keep the distance according to whatever guidelines are in place at that current time) 

By staggering start times of the practical you can reduce the number of people at any one time.

Ensure people who are vulnerable are protected. 

Provide additional hand washing facilities 

Provide a one way system for accessing the apiary

Limiting the number of people attending sessions

Using a booking system to ensure limits and timings are adhered to.

Consider use of physical screens and barriers 

Implementing drop zones for passing equipment between people

Consider mirroring hive opening to demonstrate for new beekeepers to follow your visual and verbal instructions.

Consider use of video technology where possible to ensure those unable to attend due to isolation or vulnerability 

Consider use of video meetings to encourage new beekeepers to learn and support existing beekeepers. 

Classroom based learning

We suggest video meetings like Zoom, Google Meet, Goto, etc are used for theory based learning. Demonstrations could be recorded or done live. If Wifi in apiaries is a problem then recording the material and uploading to a video storage system like YouTube might be more appropriate than trying to live stream.
Many groups have held beginners courses over video conferencing - Ormskirk and Croston for instance.
If you would like help learning the basics then please ask as one of the trustees -  Diane Drinkwater - is happy to help.

You may find it difficult to find a hall or room available for hire with the current Covid restrictions. We have been told that some are charging for a deep clean following the use and that a paid risk assessment is required.