Thoughts on beekeeping equipment following ITB Fri 28 Feb….

If you attended out Introduction to Beekeeping session last night (Fri 28th Feb) you will recall the information on getting beekeeping equipment, hives, bees etc.


A recommended website it The Apiarist and his most recent blog, entitled ‘Which is the best…?’ is all about what equipment new beekeepers should buy so is well worth reading.



OBKA Beekeeping Improvers Course

For some time, OBKA has been mindful that we offer no training beyond our very successful Beginners Course. In view of this, and with the support of OBKA Trustees, a one day classroom based course has been developed aimed at people who have completed the Beginners Course, have had bees for a year or two and would like to increase their knowledge of beekeeping. This course, which is loosely based on BBKA training material, will be known as the OBKA Improvers Course.


The course will be delivered at Marlborough School, Woodstock. We will limit the course to 15 members and it will be an intensive one day session. Tea and Coffee will be provided, but you are asked to bring your own lunch.


The cost of the course will be £15, which covers the room hire fee. Participants will be asked to complete a detailed course feedback questionnaire to help us improve the course for the future. We plan to run the course once this spring but if there is sufficient demand, we will run a second session later in the year.


The course will be held on Saturday 28 March 2020 starting at 9.30.


For further details including how to apply and the course flyer please see the Members Area.

BBKA Basic Exam passes 2019

The BBKA Basic Assessment is a practical examination that covers basic beekeeping skills, including inspection of a colony, and a short oral examination covering a range of topics, including swarm control and basis disease identification and control. Congratulations to the following members who successful completed this assessment in 2019 (NB. All four passed with Credit):


Julia Colston, James Anthony Downs, Christine Melia and Tracye Jane Sharp.


We also offer congratulations to our Webmaster, Gary Thomas, who passed the Basic Assessment with Credit through his membership with Warwickshire BKA.


The assessment takes place in July or August and we normally offer one session of training before the assessment to familarise you with the process. If you are interested in doing the Basic Assessment in 2020, please contact Carl Goodman,


We encourage all our members to attempt this assessment. The only requirement is that you have kept bees for one year. Further information can be found on the BBKA Qualifications section of this website.

Apiary visits Summer 2020

In summer we like to offer our members to opportunity to visit other members’ apiaries. We have had a couple of offers already but if you are interested in hosting such an event please contact Elly Pattullo. If you need to limit numbers or impose other conditions tell Elly and she will ensure your wishes are

Elly Pattullo via

OBKA Help for New Beekeepers

A Message from our Training Manager:



I would like to wish all our members a happy and successful New Year in their beekeeping endeavours, especially the new members starting the beginners course this year and members who completed the course in 2019.


In 2019 the OBKA Basic Beekeeping course, which runs throughout the summer at the Woodstock apiary, was attended by 48 trainees. Many of our trainees now have acquired their first colonies or are planning to get bees in spring 2020. Most beekeepers can remember the excitement they felt when they took charge of their first colony and produced their first honey crop. However, we tend to forget the trials and tribulations of those first couple of years when we discover that the bees have failed to read the latest beekeeping books! It is then that you realise the benefits of belonging to a beekeeping association where
there are many others members who may be able to offer you advice to get you through the first couple of years.


So, if you are having problems with your first colony or are unsure whether to take the plunge and acquire bees, we are very happy to offer advice and encouragement to ensure you start in the right direction.


For details on how to ask for advice see the Member’s Area.

Experienced Beekeeper seeking work

I have experience in beekeeping as I was commercial beekeeper in Hungary. I’m looking for a beekeeper job or to help out other beekeepers. I am currently working in the UK and am based in Wheatley, outside Oxford. I will consider anywhere in Oxfordshire.

Please contact Zsolt Nagy, email

Fantastic turnout for ‘Swarms’ talk Fri 29th Nov

Last night almost 50 OBKA members, partners and friends gathered in Radley Village Hall to hear Ged Marshall talk about his methods of swarm control. It was very interesting and lots of people were taking notes. I definitely was as my 2 hives in my back garden managed to swarm 3 times between them this summer!


There were some good questions at the end including one person who, quite sensibly, asked if varroa treatmetns would be more effective if every beekeeper applied the same treatment at about the same time. Ged agreed that this would be the ideal but also, to paraphrase, mentioned herding cats.


Ged Marshall taking questions at the end of his talk to OBKA.

Ged taking questions at the end of his talk on Swarm Control to OBKA.


Richard Stansfield, OBKA Secretary and Librarian, had also brought along a small selection of books from the library. The library has over 200 books in it and members can find details of all the books on the OBKA Library page in the Members area. As it was a number of books were signed out last night.




NBU National Hive Count

If you are on BeeBase you should have received a request from the National Bee Unit to update your hive count on Beebase.


If you are not on BeeBase and you have bees then you really should Register Immediately!

Update for members on renewing membership for 2020

Your annual membership fee has three components: the OBKA membership fee, a capitation fee which is paid to the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) and gives you full membership of that organisation and finally an insurance fee covering hive losses. This latter fee is paid to Bee Disease Insurance Ltd (BDI). (Some members also make a voluntary contribution to research projects at the same time as taking out membership.)


Membership Renewal 2020

In 2020, OBKA/BBKA/BDI is changing the processes for membership renewals and enrolments from the current paper based system to an online system. The new system, which is called eR2, keeps all membership records in a central database which is secure and complies with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations). We have used this system for over one year to store your members records and it has now been extended to cover enrolment, membership renewal and payment of membership fees.


It is envisaged that the new system will streamline the renewal and enrolment process and reduce the workload of the Membership Secretary (MemSec) and the Treasurer.


At the start of December, you will receive an email through eR2 inviting you to renew your membership with OBKA. If you choose to renew, you will be given a link to an er2 page showing your membership record and be given an opportunity to update it if there has been a change, e.g. change in address. After you have updated your membership record you will submit your renewal to the MemSec for approval. You will then be directed to a page giving you our bank account details so that you can make a payment by BACS. For those of you who don’t use or have access to the BACS payment process payment by cheque could be arranged if absolutely necessary.


When payment has been received, the MemSec will send you a receipt, the BDI certificate confirming that you have insurance cover and your membership record. Please note that neither BBKA nor OBKA issue membership cards as was the case a few years ago.

Oxfam GB’s first crowdfunding project – #BeesForNepal

Emma James-English from Oxfam GB has contacted us as an organisation concerned about bees to see if any of our members would be interested in supporting their first crowdfunding project:


‘As a fellow organisation with a shared interest in bees, I wanted to reach out to share an exciting project!

We have just launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £60,000 to support a beekeeping enterprise we are running with our partner, SBKI, in Nepal.

The project supports small-holder farmers to become beekeepers.


If you are interested in the project, and especially if you are interested in contributing to the project, there is a huge amount of information on the project’s crowdfunding website:

OBKA Training Courses

See the Members section for details of some potential training courses that Mark Blanchette is proposing to run if there is enough interest.

New Classifieds section in Member’s area

See the new Classified’s section in the Members area for details of potential apiary sites and equipment for sale.

Bee Health Page updated

We have had a holding page on bee health for some time. It has now been updated with lots of useful links to resources on the web, especially information on BeeBase.

Welcome to the OBKA Blog

This section will contain OBKA members’ thoughts and comments on beekeeping and related topics.