25 July 2018

The British Beekeepers Association ( BBKA) which represents more than 25,000 beekeepers has set out plans for a nationwide system of training beekeepers to rear new Queen bees.

There has been a lack of commercial bee breeders in the UK and a consequent reliance on imported Queens. These queens, although checked for health, are not adapted to our climate. There is an increasing interest in the qualities of native black bees too.

So the BBKA initiative will start with 6 basic skills queen rearing courses - for people who can be trained to raise queens in their own branches and make them available to beekeepers needing them. It’s envisaged that a total of 72 people will be trained at this level initially.

Photo credit: Bermondsey Street Bees

This plan fits in nicely with the new proposals by Defra for much more reliance on good local queen supplies therefore diminishing the number of imported queens.

It’s hoped that the theory sessions will start during the winter. This programme ‘Queen Rearing for Beginners’ will concentrate on beekeepers with a small number of colonies and use the likes of the Miller method which requires no special equipment and is suitable for someone who just wants to raise a few queens. There will be no grafting involved.


BBKA Chairman, Margaret Wilson said: “It is hoped that from this beginning members will start their own queen rearing groups. We realise that many Area Associations already have their own programmes and we are not trying to usurp or interfere with those. However, a lot of members ask us about queen rearing so this programme is designed for them.”


It is intended to run queen rearing courses at 6 centres where 12 people per centre can be trained to rear queens in their own branches.

Training the Trainers


To extend the Queen raising abilities to as many associations and branches as quickly as possible, the BBKA plans include a higher level training to provide the “Training of Trainers” to equip them with higher level skills and a variety of queen raising competencies, who can then train others in the basic skills.


There will be 4 higher level skills courses for 10 people on each course. This will likely appeal to beekeepers who already have their General Husbandry or Advanced Husbandry qualifications.


BBKA Chairman, Margaret Wilson, said: “We are hoping to cascade this out across the country if it is successful, so we are putting plans in place to start this early next year in oder to take advantage of the beekeeping season in 2019.”


More information will be available soon in BBKA News and on the website.