Launched in 2014 to much interest, the first cohort of seven young people are placed with some of the most experienced bee farmers in the United Kingdom (UK).
Recruitment is on an annual basis, with programmes commencing each spring.
The Bee Farmers’ Association has plans to extend the eligibility criteria for the scheme as we recognise bee farming is often seen as a second-career opportunity.
What Will You Study?
Apprentices are employed on a bee farm in the UK.
You will be working with your employer (also called the host trainer) for the majority of the year, gaining practical experience as you earn. There may be opportunities to work on different bee farms throughout the country and visit different businesses in order to gain breadth and variety of experience.
Underpinning knowledge will be delivered by our expert industry trainers in two blocks per year, each of two weeks. You will study:
- introduction to beekeeping
- carpentry and basic woodworking skills
- seasonal management
- queen rearing and stock improvement
- botany and forage sources
- pollen and nutrition
- honey bee anatomy
- honey bee diseases
- integrated pest management
- processing hive products
- bottling and presentation
- setting up a business
- business structures
- the competitive environment
- the industry worldwide
- health and safety
- first aid
- food hygiene.
These residential study blocks, along with training and visit days and online forums, provide the opportunity to meet and communicate with other apprentices and build friendships and contacts for the future.
Each apprentice is allocated an assessor. Apprentices are required to record their activities in a weekly log which is signed off by their host trainer and reviewed by the assessor to confirm work meets the standards required. The log is maintained on a specially-designed e-learning platform; training is given at the start of the course on how to use this system. The team delivering and managing the programme meets regularly to ensure assessment is standardised and high-quality delivery is maintained.
In addition to specialist support provided by the host trainer and expert industry trainers, each apprentice is assigned a mentor who provides support on pastoral issues. This ensures any possible difficulties that may arise are dealt with efficiently and effectively.
Apprentices are paid directly by their employer (host trainer). While the Bee Farmers’ Association asks employers to pay a base rate which values the apprentice’s contribution to the business, employers may, and often do, pay above this rate. The training element of the scheme is financed by commercial sponsors Rowse Honey. Other sponsors provide practical benefits – for example BJ Sherriff have provided bee suits. Apprentices are provided with a rail travel card free of charge for the duration of their programme.
In cases of financial difficulty, the Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers provides access to a hardship fund. Applications are considered on an individual confidential basis.
The programme lasts for three years.
For all enquiries regarding the apprenticeship scheme, please contact the General Secretary.