Beginning Beekeeper Series
Are you new to bees? Have you recently gotten bees and realize there is more to them than meets the eye? Or are you maybe just pondering the idea of keeping bees? Our Beginner Beekeeping Workshop is appropriate for any level of bee-ing.
Preservation beekeeping is our method of bee care that places the well-being of bees above the desire for maximum honey production. Our first priority is to see our bees survive and thrive! Following the ten recommendations of Entomologist Thomas Seeley in our management approach, we advocate a much more “hands-off, eyes-on” style with our hives.
We find this approach much gentler on our bees and also much simpler for the beekeeper. While there is a lot to learn, the actual “management” is quite easy. We feel this type of beekeeping or guardianship is the best approach for helping bees to survive and thrive, and increasingly the science is bearing us out.
BEEING WITH BEES
Instructor Susan Chernak McElroy teaches people how to be confident guardians of bees. Honeybees are complex, mysterious creatures with an amazing social structure based on unity and a shared community mind. Come and learn what they need to thrive in your care.
Caring for bees is not a hobby to be undertaken lightly. As with any art, it takes study and patience and passion. Our series takes you through your first full year with bees: Choosing the right hive and location for your circumstances; obtaining healthy local bees; and accessing the deeper side of beekeeping — feeling comfortable and confident working with and learning from your bees. You will learn about honeybee life in the hive, and how the bees work together to create a functional shared community.
This is how we like to keep our bees:
- Natural comb: Bees create their own wax comb on bars or frames, without the use of foundation.
- Natural food: If needed, we feed them raw, untreated honey, not sugar-syrup.
- Natural reproduction: Queens mate naturally and with many drones so they expand the gene-pool. Swarming is a desirable and proven means of colony reproduction.
- We populate our hives with feral swarms, or locally-raised bees.
- Minimal intervention: We honor the bees’ desire to create and maintain their colony without needless intrusion. We let bees be bees, and trust them to do what is best for their hive.
DATES, PLACE, PRICE
The 2-day series is $150. We are limited to 10 attendees. Check for class openings with Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 2018 Classes will be held at Susan’s skep bee garden at 1213 NW Ash St., Camas, WA 98608.
June 16th (9:30-noon)—The Bee Family
June 16th, (12:30-3pm)—Preservation Beekeeping Method
June 17th, (9:30-noon)—Right Hive, Right Place
June 17th, (12:20-3pm)—Tending Your Bees
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…And please bring lunch and a journal for notetaking. We cover a LOT of ground in these two days!
ABOUT THE CLASSES:
What kind of a beekeeper would you like to become? Some bee stewards are attracted to a less-invasive, more hands-off relationship with their hives. Some want to interact more, but are not sure how to do so in a respectful, helpful way. In this class, we’ll explore more deeply the precepts of Preservation beekeeping: Why we put bees first. One of the most difficult challenges in beekeeping is knowing what—if anything!—to do when a hive is in trouble for any number of reasons. The kind of beekeeper you decide to be will help guide you through the yearly challenges of beekeeping, from failed queens, starvation, disease, hive splits, honey gathering, and more.
The Bee Family
“Bien” is a German word for a honeybee colony, a word that is far more expansive than our word “hive.” The bien (pronounced ‘bean’) encompasses not only the hive structure and all the bees, but the entire area—plants, animals, and environment—served by the hive. We learn the roles of all the colony members, about the hive structure itself, and about the many purposes bees have, as they see it, in the world outside their hive. We follow an imaginary feral colony from the time it claims a new tree-hollow, through the seasons and into their first winter. Immersing ourselves in the life of the wild bee helps us understand more fully what the bees need from us and why they need it.
NOTE: If you have taken this class before, don’t hesitate to take it again: We add new information gleaned from bee conferences and bee research. We promise there is much new to learn any time you come.
Tending Your Bees
How do you safely, gently wrangle a box filled with 50,000 bees? While we don’t advocate frequently opening up the hive, sometimes you must open up your hive and take a look inside. No matter what hive style you work with, the principles remain the same. Learn to sharpen your senses so you can tune into the sound, the smell, and the look of a thriving hive, or identify one that is struggling. Each hive and each beekeeper is a bien unto itself. Learn to trust your unique way of being with your bees. You may need additional gear for different situations. In class we will explore entrance reducers, robber screens, yellow-jacket traps, bee-herding tools, and more.
The Right Hive in the Right Place
We have many hive styles to choose from nowadays, each with advantages and drawbacks. You’ll see how bees live in several of the most-used hive styles. These types can be purchased locally or, if you have basic carpentry skills. are easy to build. Once you choose which hive suits you best, learn where to place it. The right site decision will save many headaches down the road for you and for your bees. We’ll discuss slope, weather, wind, exposure, height, predators, shade, rain protection, and water sources for your bees.
The four classes listed above are the core of our beginner series. We also offer the classes below at different times of the season:
Swarms! Bring Home the Bees
This fun and information-packed class is being taught by my bee teacher/mentor Jacqueline Freeman. Bees repopulate themselves by swarming. While about half the hive stays behind, the old queen and thousands of bees fly out in the spring to seek a new home. These are the strong survivor bees you seek to populate your hive. Spend a fascinating day learning about the magic of the swarm, and how to catch a swarm easily and safely. Join local swarm lists and learn resources for finding local bees.
Gardening for Bees
Learn basic rules for creating bee gardens. Our Master Gardener Pixie LaPlante teaches this informative and lively class. We’ll share what to plant and how to plant it so bees have plenty to eat in each season. Learn how to build your own inexpensive “pollinator hotels” that house our unsung but vital native pollinators. Sweat bees, mason bees, leaf-cutter bees, wool-carder bees, hover bees: The more bee-dazzled with honeybees you become, the more you will notice all the other bee visitors to your yard and garden. Learn how to steward all of them.
Gifts from the Hive
Wax, honey, propolis, and healing are all gifts of a beehive, gifts meant to be used respectfully and sustainably. This class will be filled with hands-on fun! Learn to how to extract honey, make mead, and how to save and use beeswax to create items from furniture polish to candles. We’ll show how to collect propolis—a resin-based substance bees use for healing. Taste, smell, and play with bee stuff!