Beekeeping Courses on Colonsay

Why not combine a weekend beekeeping course with a visit to one of Scotland’s most remote and beautiful islands?

Courses are taught at three levels:-

Beginners – to suit complete beginners and those with some background and who are perhaps starting with their own bees.

Intermediate – to suit those with some experience but who wish to improve skills.

Queen Rearing – to help those wishing to raise their own queens and have available for others.

The Beekeeper

All of the courses are taught by Andrew Abrahams, who has kept bees commercially on Colonsay for over 40 years and has wide experience of honey production and queen rearing. 

He holds the Scottish Beekeepers Association Master Beekeepers Certificate and has a BSc (Hons) Degree in Agriculture. 

He has teaching experience in both beekeeping and agriculture.

The Courses

All courses are limited to 10 participants, allowing everyone to get good access to the bees. 

Participants are encouraged to handle the bees and to raise their individual questions and concerns. 

Teaching is based very much on the premise that:

we forget much of what we read or hear; we remember some of what we see; and we forget little of what we do.

If the weather permits, all teaching is carried out in the apiaries, working with and learning from the bees.

Much emphasis is placed on learning how to handle bees gently.

Course Content

  • Where to keep bees and where not
  • Bee forage – pollen and nectar sources
  • Hives and hive parts. Importance of bee space
  • Basic bee biology. The queen, drones, workers and their different tasks
  • Starting with a small colony – nucleus. Handling and hiving a nucleus
  • Colony growth and Swarming.
  • Inspecting a colony, looking for queen cells, basic swarm control
  • Honey production. Handling a small honey crop
  • Feeding bees and over wintering
  • Basics of honey bee diseases and their control.
  • Increasing colony numbers
  • Making use of nucleus hives
  • warm control and making increase
  • Interpreting from outside without going inside
  • Learning the skill of hive inspection
  • Hive manipulations ….Pagden, Demaree, Snelgrove, Shaken Swarm etc.etc.
  • Basics of Bee Breeding
  • Methods of raising queen cells
  • Using nuclei for queen mating
  • Making up and operating mini-nuclei (Apidea)
  • Handling queens and queen introduction
  • Honey Bee diseases and their control
  • Ways to improve the honey crop
  • Extracting and handling honey
  • Cut comb production
  • Presenting and selling honey
  • Emphasis on simple ways to produce queen cells
  • Demaree, making splits, crowding breeder nuclei
  • Making up and handling mini-nucs
  • Siting of mating nuclei
  • Grafting and cell raising
  • Use of Incubators
  • Problems with mating in cold climates

Course Dates for 2024


Weekend  4th/5th May  (places available)

Weekend  1st/2nd June   (places available)


Weekend  18th/19th May  (fully booked)

Queen Rearing 

Weekend  6th/7th July   (fully booked) 

Further Information and Booking

If you would like more information about the courses or to enquire about booking a place, contact Andrew Abrahams via email at 

or via telephone at 01951 200365