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

Memberships Click Here
from 10.00
Add To Cart


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.

Package of Bees for School
Add To Cart

Please keep your order to 1 bee package! - We suggest you purchase additional bees from Dave Pearce at


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

            Review readings from Honeybee Biology

  • Discuss foundation options and bee package installation

  • Discuss options for feeding new packages of bees

  • Identify hive placement within Tollgate bee yard