Beginning beekeepers will learn about the biology of the honey bee, the components of a bee hive, tools and protective gear, purchasing bees, and how to take care of them--feeding, disease treatments, honey extraction and winterizing.

 Classes will include review of textbook readings, guest lectures and hands-on experience in the on-site bee yard.

Class dates:

Sundays, March 3 -September 29 (12 Sessions)


1:30 pm - 4:30 pm (unless otherwise noted). 

Attendance for all classes is important because it is difficult to duplicate hive

conditions for non-attendees and classes build upon prior information.


Tollgate Education Center--MSU

28115 Meadowbrook Road; Novi, MI 48377

Meet in barn, conference center or bee yard


·         Cecilia Infante                      (734) 358 0525

·         John DeCarte              (248) 766 9924

·         Rich Wieske             (248) 585 5558


$180 per person (payable in advance)

plus $10 per individual or $15 per family (SEMBA membership fee)

To have or not to have hives

We have room at Tollgate for 30 student hives. If you wish to have your student hive at Tollgate, please indicate this on the registration form. You do not have to have a hive at all if you wish to just be an observer through this course, or you can get a hive and keep it at your house or location where you will have your bee yard. All 3 of these are a possibility. However as above we only have room for 30 student hives and the class will be open to 45 people.


1)    Pay class tuition and fill out information form. Registration will continue until the course is filled. Please note course size is limited to forty-five (45) students.

2)    Join SEMBA and pay membership fee. (if not already a member)


You must be a SEMBA Member to join the Bee School

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from 10.00
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You do not have to buy bees and hive equipment to participate in this class, however everyone must have their own protective clothing (bee suit or jacket with veil, bee gloves, work boots or shoes).

 We will provide information on purchasing hive equipment (hive kit, hive tool, bee brush, smoker) and protective clothing in the first class. You do not need to order anything in advance. There will be plenty of time to order and build hives before the bees arrive in late April. We have pre-ordered three-pound packages of bees at a cost of $125 each. The estimated cost for protective clothing and hive kits is: $250-$350.

You can order your bees now.



Honey Bee Biology by Dewey Caron with Larry Connor.

Reading assignments will be from this book. Discount price for SEMBA students: $40. Purchase is available here or at any SEMBA monthly meeting.



 1 - Sunday, March 3            Introduction to Beekeeping

Below conferences are strongly recommended (though not required):

March 8 & 9: MBA Spring Conference:

March 16:      SEMBA's Annual Conference:

 2 - Sunday, March 24          Building Equipment

 3 - Sunday, April 7               The Bees Are Coming: What to Expect                 

***Evening TBD (April 15- May 6)

Although the bees are scheduled to arrive around April 15, much depends on weather conditions in Georgia during January, February, and March. Bees could arrive as late as May 5. We will let everyone know as soon as we know.

When the bees arrive, we need to introduce them into their new hives as soon as possible. Three to five days later, we need to make sure they are doing fine and that the queen has been released.

TBD Pick up bees and install in on-site hives (one hour)

 4 - Sunday, April 28 or Sunday, May 5 -Depending when bees arrive from Georgia

                                              Examining the hive: how is the queen doing?   

 5 - Sunday, May 19             What’s happening in the hive—problems, possibilities.                                 

 6 - Sunday, June 9              Identifying eggs, larva, drones, workers, queen

 7 - Sunday, June 23            Pivotal time in the bee yard

 8 - Sunday, July 14             Testing for mites; hive treatments

 9 - Sunday, Aug 11             All about honey

10 - Sunday, Aug 25 evening class   Removing hives from Tollgate

11 - Sunday, Sept 15          Honey Extraction

12 - Sunday, Sept 29          Feeding and winterizing your hive--Wrap Party!


SESSION 1 MARCH 3 : Introduction to Beekeeping

  • Introducing Roy Prentis, Tollgate Farm Manager

  • Introduction of SEMBA Instructors and students

  • Discussion of options for procuring bees, equipment and woodenware (hives)

    • Handouts detailing what to bring for next class.

  • Synopsis of hive alternatives: Langstroth, top bar, Warre and skeps

  • The honey bee, the bee hive and bees as a super organism

  • Overview of the beekeeping year

    Homework for next class: Read Honeybee Biology, chapters 4, 5, 6, 11, 12. Buy protective clothing and hive woodenware and tools, if applicable. Bring to next class.

SESSION 2, MARCH 24:   Building Equipment

      Review readings from Honeybee Biology

      Discuss hive location

  • Constructing hive boxes and frames

  • Answer questions regarding equipment, clothing and bee purchase

Homework for next class: Read Honeybee Biology, chapters 7, 8, 9, 10

Finish building hive equipment at home; prime or stain exterior surfaces of hive.

SESSION 3, APRIL 7: The Bees Are Coming: What to Expect

 1:30 to 3:30 “The Bees Are Coming: What do Bees Need and What do Beekeepers Need?”  Guest Speaker Adam Ingrao from Heroes to Hives on bee biology and anatomy.

Before the session, read chapter 7,8,9 & 10 Honey Bee Biology

  • Prepping the yard and planting Bees

  • Demonstrate installing bee packages, possibly medicating, and feeding

  • Brief history of beekeeping in Detroit

  • How do I find out if beekeeping is legal in my town? City codes/ordinances.

  • Bee buddies and mentoring.

Bee yard ceremony. Have your smokers ready and hives stands to set up.


April 15- May 5 Bee packages arrive anytime between these dates.

Prepare for an evening class to pick up and install your bees

April 18-May 7 ghost date for checking on packages and released queen, depending on when the bees arrive and are installed

SESSION 4,  April 28 1:30 to 3:30 Checking on Hives Guest Speaker Meghan Milbraith

“What am I looking at and how’s the queen?”

Before the session, read chapters TBA in Honey Bee Biology

SESSION 4a,  May 5 Backup date for “checking on hives.”  SEE APPENDIX B for details. (BELOW)

SESSION 5, May 19 1:30 to 3:30 What’s happening in the hive? Guest Speaker Charlotte Hubbard

Before the session, read chapters TBA in Honey Bee Biology

The Flow is On! Problems/possibilities & Nutrition

SESSION 6, June 9      1:30 The busiest time in the hive Guest presenter Peggy Garnes Vice-President Ohio State Beekeepers Association.

Before the session, read chapters TBA in Honey Bee Biology

SESSION 7, June 23 11:00am-2:00pm  Pivotal time in the hive: FULL DAY IN THE BEE YARD.

Before the session, read chapters TBA in Honey Bee Biology

SESSION 8,  July 14 1:30  Status of the hive treatments? More mite testing

Before the session, read chapters TBA in Honey Bee Biology

SESSOIN 9, Aug 11 1:30  All About Honey. Guest Speaker  Roger Hoopingarner

Before the session, read chapters TBA in Honey Bee Biology


SESSION 11, Sept 15 1:30  Extraction

SESSION 12, September 29 Winterizing Guest presenter Michael Risk & Party at Cecilia’s

  • Feeding

  • Weighing hives

  • Treatments

  • Program Evaluations

Potluck Picnic and Wrap Party at Cecilia’s home, including workshop in honey infusion--certified Naturopathic Doctor Carole Florence will teach you how to create your own remedies for common health problems by infusing honey with herbs and spices.


Students will participate in hands-on training in an on-site apiary (bee yard). Because this is a shared yard, all equipment and protective clothing MUST BE CLEAN, NEW, AND UNCONTAMINATED. Each student will need to purchase protective clothing and tools (see Suggested Gear, below).

Students DO NOT need to (AND SHOULD NOT) have any equipment prior to starting the course; instructors will provide information regarding equipment selection, purchase options, and assembly. Everything must be clean, new and uncontaminated. Suggested Gear:

  • Bee veil (generally attached to a suit or jacket or hood),

  • Bee suit or jacket,

  • Bee gloves,

  • Work boots or shoes (with protective ankle wraps, optional),

  • Hive tool (and, optionally, a bee brush), and

  • Smoker, fuel and method of lighting same.

SUGGESTED Hive Components: We recommend 8 frame medium equipment but 10 frame and deep equipment is allowed, we’ve had very poor experience in recent years with plastic foundation, not recommended but allowed if you have a therapist

  • Telescoping outer cover (for 8 frame hive) with metal (galvanized preferred) roof

  • Inner cover (for 8 frame hive) made with wood (no Masonite) with a notch

  • At least 6 (7 better) medium (6% inches deep) wood hive bodies/supers/boxes (for 8 frame hive)

  • At least 48 (56 better) frames (w/wedge tops) for medium hive bodies/supers/boxes (8 frameslbox)

  • At least 48 (56 better) sheets of vertically wired wax foundation with hooks for medium frames

  • Screen bottom board with inspection tray (for 8 frame hive)

  • Hive stand (non-wood better, such as 2 to 4 concrete blocks, which is recommended)

  •  Spacer or Emery board

  • Top feeder

  • Entrance Reducer Queen excluder is optional Bees:

  • New package of bees with a queen (we recommend same to be purchased through SEMBA).

All participants must properly maintain all items left at the course site and conduct themselves in a friendly and helpful manner, following all rules. For example, students must timely remove hives and all other equipment and belongings from the course site; anything left will be auctioned with the proceeds going towards costs, expenses, etc. 


The bees are scheduled to arrive sometime around April 15, much depends on the weather conditions in Georgia during January, February, and March, they could be as late as May 5. People need to be aware of the this, their arrival is a moving target. We will let everyone know as soon as we know. When they come, they need to be planted (installed) asap--the sooner they get in the hive the sooner they can build wax, release the queen, and start a new home. In the past they shipped out of Georgia on a Friday or Saturday, getting to us usually on a Monday early evening.

Note, not yet scheduled: 3 to 5 days after the bees are planted, the hive needs to be checked to make sure the queen has been released (ghost date).