I have now had the opportunity to complete the Healthy Bees Academy modules created by Menter a Busnes to help beekeepers improve the health and productivity of our hives.
We have now been keeping bees for 4 years and enjoying every moment, but it is true to say that trying to learn and understand how the bees will cope with certain diseases, infections and weather conditions is a huge learning curve – indeed it can be quite a headache for experienced beekeepers let alone a relatively new beekeepers like myself.
There is so much responsibility in trying to manage healthy and thriving bee colonies, not only in terms of honey production but future-proofing viable native bee populations as well. The Healthy Bees Academy funded by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has been of huge help in learning and gaining more experience keeping bees.
In essence it’s a series of 4 modules that have been carefully designed by experienced beekeeper Lynfa Davies. The no nonsense modules guide you straight to the necessary, practical information you need as beekeepers but it’s also hugely comprehensive – I feel like I’ve learned so much in so little time.
The 4 modules cover specific topics such as bee health in varroa management, all types of pests and disease as well as buying, rearing, and sourcing bees responsibly. I now feel more confident to possibly try breeding new queens in the future and in identifying valuable traits in populations to pass on to new colonies of bees during expansion.
The academy is essentially a combination of diagrams, photos, podcasts and videos that present useful information in many easy-to-follow formats. One thing I really enjoyed was the troubleshooting checklists helping to identify problems and tackle them – and these leaflets can be downloaded in pdf format – which is great, as there is often no phone signal down in the apiary – not to mention getting my phone all honey-filled and sticky!
As a beekeeper I really want to ensure that our colonies do not suffer unnecessarily from threats from pests and diseases, especially ones relating to the way I treat and manage the bees. Mostly, I feel more knowledgeable now, having followed these modules, as to how to prevent or mitigate a small problem before it becomes a major problem.
I hope with time further useful modules will be added to the Academy especially in the face of serious threats such as the spread of Asian Hornets. There’s no limit to how much we can learn as beekeepers and having an easy-to-use, multilingual platform that’s available in Welsh (which is a big bonus for me as a native Welsh speaker) to help us manage our bees is invaluable.
I would encourage all beekeepers to register on the Healthy Bees Academy, it is free, and you will get 4 certificates after all the work, to show your competencies. What better opportunity over the winter months than to complete these modules in readiness and anticipation for a busy season next year? Go for it!