Bees for Development Sustainable Beekeeping Course



Our unique, intensive beekeeping course was developed and delivered by the Bees for Development team.

The course is suitable for both beginners and experienced beekeepers. The focus is on honey bee biology and how you can create the conditions for bees to thrive. All the sessions are based on robust and up to date scientific evidence, alongside decades of experience keeping and observing bees with minimal stress and no chemical treatments. We present a range of beekeeping systems and help you choose the right one for you.

We only run this course twice a year, with a student to tutor ratio of 3 to 1. The course is at Ragman's Lane Farm, a 60-acre organic permaculture farm established over 30 years ago in the Forest of Dean.

Course content:

- Meet the bees - a hands-on look at honey bee colonies housed in different hives
- The natural life-cycle of honey bees - honey bee biology and ecology
- Being a beekeeper - what does keeping bees really mean?
- The relationship between bees and flowers - pollination, plants and biodiversity
- Keeping bees healthy - what to do and when to act
- Making and building low-cost hives - practical demonstration
- Warre's People's hive, horizontal top-bar hives, frame hives: we look at each and help you choose which system is best for you and for your bees
- Beekeeping and sustainability - what does the future hold?

Saturday - 9.30am to 5pm // Sunday - 9.30am to 4pm

Cancellation and a full refund can be obtained up to 8 weeks before the course starts. Start dates may be amended on request.


Giacomo Ciriello at Bees for Development


1 Agincourt Street
NP25 3DZ

Suitable for

  • Adults
  • Advanced/pro level
  • Christmas
  • Easter
  • Father's Day
  • Intermediate level
  • Mother's Day
  • Parking provided
  • Seniors
  • Suitable for beginners


2 days (9:30am to 5:00am)

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This craft course provider has been awarded Platinum status for receiving 50 or more 5 star ratings from previous students.

The Students' Choice award ensures that course providers get recognised for their efforts in the teaching and practice of UK craft.

They also allow tutors to gain valuable feedback on their courses and for new students to find the course that's right for them.

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In-person course
Clare Downie - - #30940

I loved this course. It was a great combination of biology, conservation, beekeeping skills, and meeting like minded people in a group. It broadened my perspective on beekeeping, and it was very interesting to learn about the work and ethos of Bees for Development.
Beekeeping for bees, with minimum intervention, kindness, and real attention to their natural behaviour. Thank you. I was very inspired. I have a beehive, and all I need now are some bees!

In-person course
May Philpott - - #17526

This course really enhances your knowledge and gives you a broader perspective on WHY natural beeping should be a consideration for beekeepers.

The presentations were well thought through and the presenters used data from sources that are reliable.

On reflection had I attended this course before becoming a beekeeper many mistakes could have been avoided.

Upon returning from the course I completely changed my approach to what I was doing and this gives me confidence in taking a natural and sustainable approach to beekeeping in the future.

In-person course
Karl Wills - - #17351

A useful and informative course at a very nice location. Like many others I had been shown the modern (industrial) way of keeping bees, which felt at odds with my ethics regarding animal welfare. The sustainable bee keeping course provided the information to show that keeping bees could be done in a way sympathetic to the bees. The instructors each had their own views and this helped to create an overall balanced programme.

In-person course
Brian Watson - - #17337

Being new to bee keeping, I thought a course would be the best place to start. Choosing a course was a challenge due to so many available. This course stood out based on the sustainability side of things. It did not disappoint, the course was really informative in all areas. Nothing was mandated, it was all fact based (backed up with scientific evidence) and really has made me stop and think about the importance of balance. The course location was excellent, as were all of the people who covered the subjects. Highly recommend this course if new to bee keeping or very experienced - plenty to think about and learn from.

In-person course
Gary McKillion - - #15954

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In-person course
Clive Roe - - #14421

A well-run, highly informative weekend course, set in a very pleasant location. The enthusiastic tutors managed to put over a wealth of information in a highly digestible way...and the food was great!

In-person course
Jon Arrenberg - - #14308

This was an excellent course which was eye opening, thought provoking, very well delivered and enjoyable.
I have been keeping bees for about 4 years and I wish that I had attended the course before starting. I have been a conventional beekeeper and increasingly concerned about the sustainability of what I was doing and the course has shown me a much better way of operating. It will certainly lead to a change in the way I am going to keep bees from now on and I have already started on the construction of two top bar hives after sending back a couple of Nationals that I had just bought from Thornes.
A big thank you to all involved. Wonderful food.

In-person course
Hannah Sheppard - - #14283

A fantastic immersive weekend learning about bees, their society and what they need from nature to continue pollinating a third of the world's food.
The five tutors presented an incredible bank of knowledge and insight and even taught us how to build our own hive.
I have left the course enthused to learn more and already making a plan about how and where to keep bees, and also how to advocate for bees to my local council, county council, fellow gardeners and neighbours.
It became apparent through the course how different the sustainable approach to beekeeping is vis-a-vis other more interventionist approaches, and how modern farming methods can be so destructive. So, thank you Bees for Development; I am glad to have started my journey with bees, with you.

In-person course
Jo Egglestone - - #14263

A wonderful course with every opportunity to ask questions. I have come away from it with a plan on where to start with keeping bees, and even how to make the hive I want. Brilliant course I fully recommend.

In-person course
Clive Russell - - #14258

As a complete novice with regard to anything concerning bees, I found the relaxed yet highly informative atmosphere, generated by all of the speakers, exceptionally good and perfectly conducive to an ideal learning experience.
The messages were clear and concise. Clearly the need for sustainable bee keeping needs to be spread throughout the bee keeping fraternity. I personally will be following the BfD way and have already recommended the course to friends and neighbours.
Finally, a huge thank you to Donna for an excellent lunch on both days. Keep up the good work.


In-person course
Rae Gervis - - #9087

Beekeeping course attended a month ago was absolutely fantastic! All the tutors were passionate, incredibly generous with their knowledge and inspired me to order my first Warre hive after a couple of years of procrastination! The accommodation was fine, the food wonderful . Evening walks around Ragmans with other students were delightful & a great opportunity to share thoughts about the course. Would totally recommend the course .
The highlight was observing a swarm choosing the Warre hive to move into when all other hives were on display.

In-person course
Debbie da Rosa - - #8843

I would highly recommend this course, I had the most amazing weekend learning all about Bees and how to care for them. It was very informative and inspiring, offering good practical experience with the opportunity to open a hive and watch the bees at work, just amazing!
The accommodation was good and the food excellent all set in the beautiful Wye Valley.
I now feel confident enough to have a hive of my own.
Huge thank you. :)

In-person course
Steve Bergel - - #8834

I attended the course to gain as much insight into bees and beekeeping, and now feel confident enough to proceed further. The enthusiasm of the course providers was infectious and the way they imparted their knowledge was so informal and relaxed that it wasn't difficult to retain it over a busy weekend. Enough detail is provided to give a good understanding of all the processes involved and I came away feeling that any problems that arise in the future can be managed with a degree of confidence and some recommended reading.
Thoughly recommended, could not have been better.

In-person course
Matthew. - - #8821

A very informative weekend, with a friendly group of people, in charming surroundings.

In-person course
Louise Jutsum - - #8819

I echo what Helen has said. I found it particularly useful to think of a colony of bees as having many of the characteristics of a small mammal. Some of the images used to illustrate the talks were particularly arresting eg that of a bee sting showing the long line of the bee's insides and the drone mating with the queen. I have never seen a Warre hive up close before and the swarm made a very clear choice in its favour. Top bar hives have long been a mystery to me and now I know how to make one.

I also very much enjoyed the company of the other course participants and interesting discussions continued into the evenings.

In-person course
Helen English - - #8816

I found the course very informative and helpful. It gave me the confidence to review the way in which we'd been keeping our bees at our Community Farm up till now and to develop the skills to make what we are doing truly sustainable. It was also interesting to be able to look inside a Top Bar hive and to learn about bees in all their manifestations. We were very lucky to witness a swarm on the Sunday afternoon right outside where we were meeting!

In-person course
D. Cheung - - #8625

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