Isle of Wight Beekeepers Association

The Teaching Apiary

The IWBKA Teaching Apiary is located at Quarr Abbey, a Benedictine monastery set in 250 acres of its own land off the Newport Road near Ryde. In 2010, the Chapter asked the IWBKA to take over the running of their apiary and in return the Association was able to install its own hives and use the apiary as a teaching facility.

Early in 2011, the Teaching Apiary took charge of the Abbey’s Langstroth hives and added Nationals and a WBC of its own. During that season, up to fifteen new beekeepers at a time were taught basic, practical beekeeping skills on a weekly basis. They also cheerfully undertook the mammoth task of cleaning up equipment which hadn’t been used for some time, while other work parties trimmed and planted hedges, trimmed grass, removed saplings, re-aligned fences and generally created an airy and workable site. At the end of the season, honey was processed and sold through the Abbey tea room. The first year had proved to be a steep but very satisfying experience for all involved.

In 2012, six weekly theory classes based on the BBKA "Course in a Case" were attended by eighteen students, moving the learning experience forward once again. They, and others who had attended theory classes elsewhere, were offered the opportunity to attend six free practical sessions in the apiary during the season. This model of learning will continue in future years.

Another grant enabled the Teaching Apiary to purchase more equipment to further its aim of selecting an Island strain of bees that is calm and productive. The Chapter has again kindly allowed the teaching apiary a separate area of land for this purpose. Swarms are isolated there for a minimum of six weeks and assessed for temperament and health. Once the colony is treated against varroa and established as a viable nuc with eggs and brood in all stages, it is offered for sale to the next beekeeper on the list; new bee-keepers are given priority. The BBKA’s code of practice is strictly followed.

A series of Association meetings, as well as the training sessions for new beekeepers, aims to provide education for beekeepers of all ability and experience levels. For Beginners Beekeeping Courses, contact Carol and Terri on 01983 295096 or 07748886246.

Quarr Teaching Apiary Committee

Chair and swarm co-ordinator George Bignell 0781 769 2083
Apiary manager Liz Van Wyk  
Rearing Apiary Manager Christine McClellan  
Treasurer Frank Stevens  
Committee Member Mags Kelleher  
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