19th September 2021

Somerset Beekeepers are awarded the UK’s highest qualification in beekeeping

Somerset Beekeepers’ Association (SBKA) was set up in 1906 to advance the craft of apiculture and to promote general awareness and understanding of honey bees and holds true to its founding principles today. SBKA is a registered charity and has around 1,250 members. The volunteer-run organisation is governed by a Council consisting of elected officers and SBKA is affiliated to the British Beekeepers’ Association.They provide training, promote best practice and offer advice, support and education to beekeepers and the public. Over the years our members have made – and continue to make – an impressive contribution to British beekeeping at both national and county level.

Two Somerset beekeepers – Lynne Ingram and Richard Bache – are the only two beekeepers this year to pass the prestigious National Diploma in Beekeeping (NDB) – the UK’s highest qualification in beekeeping.

NDB Chairman Adam Leitch offered his warmest congratulations to them both on their “outstanding achievement”.

Candidates follow a broad syllabus ending with an exam, including a theory paper and dissertation, the preparation of botany and entomology portfolios, followed by an all-day practical assessment covering colony handling, botany, anatomy and disease, and a viva voce.

Richard Bache, a Taunton GP who has been a beekeeper for 22 years, confessed to starting the demanding course in a ‘moment of lockdown madness!’

“To be honest, I have absolutely no idea what possessed me!” he said. “But I relished the challenge of taking my beekeeping to the next level: having a more in-depth knowledge of beekeeping practice, understanding the place of the honey bee in the broader environment and refining my bee husbandry skills beyond the Master Beekeeper level.”

Lynne Ingram, a retired psychologist from East Huntspill, has been keeping bees for almost 40 years: “For me taking the NDB was the next challenge after becoming a Master Beekeeper.

“I’ve broadened and deepened my beekeeping knowledge generally, learnt so much more about insects other than honey bees and their role in pollination, as well as studying botany in greater depth, and immersing myself in the latest apicultural research”.

The NDB started in 1954 and there have been only 94 successful candidates over the intervening years. Somerset Beekeepers’ Association has four members with the qualification – in addition to Richard and Lynne, they are Simon Jones and Patrick Rich.

Lynne added: “Beekeeping is absolutely fascinating and you never stop learning,” while Richard commented: “Beekeeping is a fantastic opportunity to witness and learn about one of nature’s most incredible creations.”

To discover more about beekeeping in the county you hear Lynne talking to Teresa on the Mindful Monday show from 8pm on 9th August or you can visit the Somerset Beekeepers’ Association’s website: www.somersetbeekeepers.org.uk