A new bee season is about to begin and GloryBee is accepting orders for packages of live bees to be picked up in April at our 43rd annual Bee Weekend. For many, this will be the beginning of your beekeeping journey. Congratulations! Beekeeping is an amazing hobby that has the potential to turn into a lucrative side-job, or even a full-time profession.
Beekeeping today is not as easy as it was a quarter century ago. It requires a bit more scientific know-how to keep your bees thriving. Some may say that experience is the best teacher, but we believe that the life of each of your bees is important, and rather than have you do it on your own and discover through trial-and-error the best management practices for your hives, we strongly recommend you get some formal bee training.
The internet is filled with some amazing resources to begin learning about the art and science of beekeeping. A good place to start would be the GloryBee Beekeeping 101 online series of lessons. But there is no better resource to learn beekeeping from than other beekeepers—live and in person.
When looking to find a beekeeping class, we suggest you begin by attending your local beekeeper association meetings. Here you will find experienced beekeepers who will be more than willing to share their love of beekeeping with you. As you begin to get familiar with beekeeping equipment and terminology, it’s time to get serious and begin your formal training. Be sure that the class you sign up for has these three things:
- Experienced Teacher from your Region: It takes at least three years to truly learn the intricacies of the different seasons of the year and how they affect your bees. Managing the health of your hives requires a keen understanding of the needs of your honey bees. A teacher with less than three years of experience may be nice to learn from, since their perspective is still new and easier for you to relate to, but it will be beneficial if the class also has a teacher that has many years of experience, since each year provides a new set of challenges for beekeepers to overcome. A seasoned veteran beekeeper will probably have failed a lot over the years, and be able to tell you how to avoid making the same mistakes. A beekeeper that is not from your region is not as helpful as one from your area, since each geographic location has area-specific nuances that local beekeepers will know and be able to pass on to you.
- Visual Aids: We learn by seeing, hearing and doing. When you hear of an opportunity to go to a bee class, be sure the presenters have slides or pictures and actual bee wooden ware and equipment to go with their talks. You can hear about varroa mites or smokers, but unless you see what they look like you won’t know what the teacher is talking about. Being able to touch and examine some of the equipment or other things like propolis or swarm lures that the teacher might be explaining to you will really help in giving you the confidence you will need when working with your own bees.
- Field Experiences: The best bee classes are those that provide a mentor, who is a very experienced beekeeper and talented teacher. These mentors are your personal bee expert who is willing to answer all your beekeeping questions, even out of the classroom. They teach you not just by telling you the things you want to know—they show you too. Field experiences with an experienced beekeeper is the very best way to learn. You are able to not just see and hear about beekeeping, but are actually able to learn how to do real beekeeping activities with real bee hives. Field experiences allow new beekeepers to have an expert show them the proper ways to do things, from lighting and using a smoker to checking mite counts on sticky boards. If possible, we recommend finding a beekeeping program that offers field experiences with an experienced beekeeper.
And if there’s one thing you learn in a beekeeping class, we hope it’s this—treat for mites!
Upcoming 2017 Beekeeping Classes at GloryBee Factory Store:
January 21 & March 11: Beekeeping 101 (Note: both sessions will review same material)
Februrary 18, 2017: Ask a Beekeeper: Q&A with Dick Turanski
Call 1-800-456-7923 to register. For more info go to: GloryBee 2017 Beekeeping Classes