On this hands-on, one day course you’ll gain a deep understanding of how honeybees have shaped our world while exploring different ways you can support their future and engage with bees yourself, be it creating wild habits for honeybees, establishing a conventional apiary, or alternative hives such as Warre hive.
Engaging with the honeybee opens a whole new world of understanding the intricacies of our food system and beyond. Philosophers, economists, writers, politicians, mathematicians, and artists have all drawn inspiration from these ephemeral, winged creatures.
With a combination of hands-on experience and expert guidance this one-day course will give you the confidence and skills to establish your own honeybee colony, as well as offering an insight into different approaches to beekeeping. The day will also cover timescales to help you decide when to establish your colony, what equipment you need and where best to source it. You’ll gain a full understanding of the whole process before you commit to keeping bees yourself.
One of the most unique aspects of the day is River Cottage now has a multitude of different styles of hives so you can gain an insight into how each work. Your tutor Steve Minshall, who looks after the River Cottage hives, will offer knowledge from his years of beekeeping to help you decide which is best for you.
Your morning will be spent at River Cottage, learning some essential theory before donning your protective suit and gaining some hands-on experience with our bees in their various locations and hives.
After an insightful morning you will enjoy a delicious two-course lunch prepared by the River Cottage chefs, which will feature creative recipes featuring honey.
For the afternoon practical session, you will again visit our hives – learning in more detail how to inspect and safely handle the bees, with guidance and ethical discussions on how often you should open your hives, feeding bees and protecting your colony from disease, weather and more.
The day will end with further theory lessons and the chance to enjoy some tasty honey treats.
Thoughtful, well paced course, covering a really interesting range of information around beekeeping. Wonderful to get hands on experience of examining hives at two sites. Great teachers, beautiful location and the added treat of a very delicious lunch.
Abi Attended 11 June 20215.0 out of 5
An incredibly informative and fun day based around practical bee keeping, theory of keeping hives and fantastic food and company. Would highly recommend!
Sarah Attended 2 July 20215.0 out of 5
10:00 - 17:00
Make yourself at home
You will meet your hosts and start the day with tea, coffee and a tasting of various honeys, including our own River Cottage honey.
Your tutor Steve, will then take you through the fundamentals of beekeeping – including reasons to keep bees, honey bee behaviour, different types of hive, and all the equipment you will need.
You’ll then get suited up and walk to the first of the River Cottage apiarys to see different hive styles, meet our bees and gain some hands-on practical experience with our colonies.
Food is always the focus at River Cottage, and a two-course seasonal lunch of local ingredients will be one of the highlights of your day (and will of course feature some delicious honey)!
In the second of two practical sessions, you will head to the second River Cottage apiary and have the chance to examine a beehive in more detail - with lessons on how to inspect a hive, care for the bees and safety.
Steve will also show you the other types of hives we have on the farm , including our Rocket hive (as seen on River Cottage Reunited), a Warre hive and Top Bar hive.
We’ll taste treats from the kitchen featuring honey and dive further into the essential steps you need to set up your own hive and establish your own colony of bees.
There will be time to chat to your fellow scholars, select a River Cottage Handbook of your choice to take home and talk to Steve before heading back up the hill, with course notes in hand.
Please note: This is a guide to the activities that will make up your course at River Cottage. This is by no means set in stone and will depend on seasonal availability.
On occasion cookery schools will use equipment that includes induction hobs. It is recommended that people with pace makers should not work on these units. If you are concerned or would like to check whether or not induction hobs will be used on the course you are interested in, please call us on 01297 630302.
This course is run from River Cottage HQ on the Dorset/Devon borders. Full address details of HQ will be provided once you have booked.
We are a licensed venue. We have a wide selection of the finest organic wines available to purchase.
We would advise that this course is only really suitable for 12 years of age and upwards. Under 16s must be accompanied by a paying adult. We put these guidelines in place for the safety, comfort and enjoyment of all our guests.
Sorry, we’re afraid this course is not suitable for those who are allergic to bee stings or honey
With many of our courses there are often treats and leftovers to take away with you. In our quest to be more sustainable we are encouraging guests to bring their own containers and bags to transport their produce home. Details of what is required for each course will be included in booking emails.
- Sustainable Restaurant Association
- Food and Travel Magazine 2017
- Great British Food Awards 2017
- Great British Food Awards 2018