Graduating in a Pandemic by Caroline MacDonald

Last autumn IBA Clg launched its online exam for Beginners in Beekeeping. The exam is in two parts, one is written and completed online, the other is a Skills Logbook which is completed at the apiary.

The online part was [fairly] easy to access from the IBA clg website. A prospective candidate could follow the links through Education, Beginners and payment of €10. When this was finished, I uploaded a Skills Logbook which was printed, brought to the apiary and checked by a competent examiner just as it was done in the past. Because of restrictions the skills could be completed over a number of days.

The reason for spreading out the exam over a longer time period was to ensure that HSE protocols could be followed. There need never be many people at the apiary at any one time, and people could disperse when finished and allow someone else into the 2m zone. This was not easy to organise but many thanks to those who did.

The theory exam may still be completed as we have not called a halt to it yet. I may change the questions and introduce different ones for 2022, who knows. The Skills Logbook may also be completed by arrangement with the education officer in each affiliate association. In the absence of an education officer candidates may liaise with any committee member.

3 Counties Association had a number of candidates and there was a socially -distant “graduation “. I was in the area –it being a long weekend- and was very happy to see the graduates receive their certificates. Congratulations all.

Much appreciation to Pauline Walsh who brought the new beekeepers through the work required for the exam. It was not all plain sailing as we changed from 5km to 10km and back again. As soon as restrictions relaxed Pauline moved into action. Go, halt go halt…we all know the drill.

There was a junior candidate among the graduates in 3 Counties which bodes well for beekeeping in a new and ever-changing world. The work behind the scenes and the spirit of volunteerism was evident front and centre in 3 Counties. Volunteerism is what keeps the fabric of our country intact and is visible in all our beekeeping associations.

In Eblana also the socially- distant teaching was followed with split timed lessons organised at the beautiful new teaching apiary. I know that quite an amount of work went into that this year both from the committee and members who volunteered when help was needed. There will be a graduation happening there soon. It’s a new guna for me then!

It lifts my heart to know that some things are trying to return to place where plans can be made and followed. It may not be normal as we knew previously, but it is now normal. The bees didn’t suffer an illness so they proceeded as normal. Beekeeping in the Association changed. We had fewer gatherings of beekeepers- if I may state the obvious -but thankfully we found a way to get tasks done.