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, our education officer and 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.”
Richard started beekeeping in 1999 following a beginners’ course run by the late Mike Milton and Gerald Fisher of Somerton Division, aged 16. Currently he manages eight colonies.
He added: “Beekeeping is a fantastic opportunity to witness and learn about one of nature’s most incredible creations.”
Lynne, who heads up our online lecture programme, is our Asian Hornet Action Team coordinator and joint event officer, has been keeping bees for almost 40 years, and currently manages 20 colonies.
“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.
“It was tough! Lockdown had limited many of the normal training opportunities and added an extra couple of elements to our submissions”.
Lynne’s introduction to beekeeping was in the late 1970s when she completed a course run by the late David Charles.
“We’d just moved into a new home with some land, and self-sufficiency was very popular so we had goats, sheep and bees. Over the years everything else went but the bees remained - and increased in number.”
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 (Somerton) and Lynne (Taunton), they are Simon Jones (Taunton) and Patrick Rich (Mendip).
Lynne: “Beekeeping is absolutely fascinating. You never stop learning however long you’ve been doing it, you meet others who are passionate about bees and your interest can take off in so many different directions.”
Richard: “Beekeeping is a fantastic opportunity to witness and learn about one of nature’s most incredible creations.”