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Diploma in Apiculture, University of Galway

Updated: Jan 30

By Joe Kelly

How did you get started in beekeeping?

While roofing an extension to a house, the owner of the house had beehives in his back garden and invited me come and have a look at the hives. I found the bees interesting. The beekeeper offered me a hive, I copied the design and started making my own hives. I’ve been keeping bees now for fifteen years.

Why did you decide to do the apiculture course?

I have a huge interest in beekeeping and when I read about the apiculture course on the associations whats app group,  it was an opportunity to further my knowledge in beekeeping. To apply for this course, you had to submit a written application. There is a fee of 1180 euros per year which can be paid in two instalments. There is a grant of 500 euros available towards the fees from the National Organic Training Skillnet which is situated in Donegal.

What does the course involve?

The course is delivered from the University of Galway. It commenced in 2021. It is a two-year part-time course. The first group graduated in September 2023, my group will graduate in September 2024. The course is led by Professor Grace McCormack and a team of Dr. Keith Browne, Dr. Michel Dugon, DR. Helen Mooney, Dr. Dara Gilmartin, DR. John Breen and various guest lecturers. They are all beekeepers in their own right.

The course involves the following, a two hour online lecture every week. You attend the university for lectures, lab work and field work in the university’s apiary every six to eight weeks. There are continuous assignments and assessments on each module. There are six modules in total three per year.

Year one the first module is Entomology which is the study of insects which the honeybee is part of.

Module two  is the Behaviour of Social Insects which includes communication, pheromones, the waggle dance, hygiene, defence and breeding.

Module three is the Fundamentals of Beekeeping which is type of hives, treatments, swarming and queen rearing.

Year two, module one is genetics which covers the DNA and social behaviours of bees and insects.

Module two is health and diseases which covers Americian foulbrood, European foulbrood, Nosema and varroa mites.

Module three is advanced beekeeping.

Have you found the course useful?

Yes, the course is informative and interesting. There is always so much more to learn.

The University of Galway is now the centre for research of all types of beekeeping and bees.

There is ongoing research into wild bees, habitats and their resilience to disease. 

The university also links in with all beekeeping associations in Ireland, UK, across Europe and America.

I would recommend the diploma to all levels of beekeepers from beginners to experienced. The learning from the course is an invaluable resource to advance your knowledge of bees and beekeeping.

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