Welcome to SEMBA

Southeastern Michigan Beekeepers Association

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SEMBA BeeKeeping School

As we welcome you to an exciting bee-centric journey, we do want to offer two notes of caution. First, take time to evaluate your reasons and goals. If you are hoping “to save the bees,” it may be more important to plant and encourage pollinator friendly farms and gardens, to join the movement to eradicate lethal pesticides, or to participate in citizen science projects that support endangered pollinators. If, however, you are fascinated by social insects, want to share a hobby with your children, are determined to have fresh honey from your backyard, want to try your hand at making mead, or feel that you can build a better beehive, then honey beekeeping is for you.

Second, only one in three Michigan honey bee hives will survive their first winter. Our classes promise you the joy of discovery, the pain of stings, as well as the sorrow of learning to cope with bee loss.

The board of SEMBA and the instructors at SEMBA Bee School invite you to hone both your vision and practice, as well as consider the role our eco-system plays in the life of the honey bee.

Registration for 2023 Classes Will Open December 1!

For any questions, please email sembabeeschool@gmail.com

2023 SEMBA Bee School Overview

Welcome to our nine-month course introducing you to the biology of the honey bee, sustainable beekeeping practices, and the beneficial uses of honey bee products--especially honey! Classes will incorporate presentations from national beekeeping experts, discussion of textbook readings, and close hands-on instruction in a campus community bee yard. 

Due to site and staffing limitations, class sizes will be limited to 30 people. We will have a waitlist available in the event there are cancelations. 

Beginning in February, you will learn how to manage colonies out of winter into early spring. As the weather warms, you will participate in raising splits from surviving hives in the community bee yard and conduct autopsies on dead outs (colonies that didn’t survive).

In May, you will begin to raise your own bees in your hive on campus, and spend the remainder of the semester learning how to support their nutritional and pest management needs throughout the harvest season. As fall approaches, you will move your hive to its permanent location and prepare it for winter using the strategies you learn in class. You will also have the opportunity to extract and process honey from the hives of your instructors and perhaps even your own!

While classroom presentations and discussions are critical, much of your education will come from what you learn working directly with your and your peers’ hives in the community bee yard on campus. Please consider your schedule when committing to this class because you must attend every meeting to ensure your success and the safety of the bees.  

Given our mission of sustainability--both for the health of the bees and your bank account--we collaborate closely with SEMBA’s beekeeping community, the Michigan Beekeepers Association, and Michigan State University Pollinator Extension Services to provide locally bred Michigan nucleus (‘nuc’) colonies to start your beekeeping journey.

You are not required to keep bees in order to take this class. Many students choose to wait a year before starting their own beeyard. If you do choose to keep bees, you will raise your colony in the Tollgate or Bowers community bee yard until you move it to your home/permanent location in the fall. 

You are certainly welcome to raise more than one colony, but we can only host one colony per student or family because of space restrictions.

Our Tentative Class and Bee yard schedule for 2023 (subject to change as we finalize site schedules):

#01- February 19 - Introduction: Sharing the Joy of Bees.  (virtual)

#02 - March 19-  Understanding Bees -What Do Bees Need? What Do Beekeepers Need?

#03 – April 16 - What Happened in the Winter Apiary?  A year in the life of a Bee.

#04 – May 21 - Swarms, Nucs & Splits. Here they come, Preparing for the Arrival of Your Bees, late May-early June!

#05 – June 11 -Checking Up  on your expanding Bee Colony.

#06 - July 09 - Bee Biology. learning how to do samples.

#07 – July 30 - Pests and Pathogens  treatment and feeding, winter begins in August

#08 – August 27 - Honey Harvest and are your Hives ready for Winter

#09 – September 24 - Maintenance and Robbing. Mite Load Monitoring, final winterizing.

#10 – October 15 - all class wrap party

Our Beginning Bee School program will be offered at three  locations this year: 

  1. MSU Extensions Tollgate Farm at Twelve Mile Rd. and Meadow Brook rd. Novi. 

  2. Bowers Farm School at Square Lake and Adams Road, Bloomfield.

All locations will host class from 1:00pm - 3:00pm, Sunday

Tuition: $350 per person course fee. Tuition includes the required textbook Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping, Caron and Connor ($90); your required SEMBA dues ($10 single/$15 family); and 10 in-person class sessions. For existing members signing up for this class series, your SEMBA membership will be extended an additional year.

For couples/families adding a second person (i.e. your spouse, child, etc), the tuition will be reduced to $295 to cover the $5 increase for a family membership.

Bee school yard at Tollgate Farm

The Southeastern Michigan Beekeepers Association (SEMBA) has provided support to those interested in bees and beekeeping for over eighty years.

The goals of our class are:

  1. to develop students’ understanding of disease and pests, especially varroa mites;
  2. to better understand the roles of nutrition and healthy habitats for managing colonies throughout the seasons;
  3. to build student confidence and the local beekeeping community through hands-on training and mentorship; and
  4. to cultivate sustainable beekeeping practices that support the health of all pollinators.


Our affiliation with the Michigan State University Department of Entomology offers access to cutting-edge research, and our knowledgeable guest presenters bring passion to our comprehensive classes and to SEMBA club meetings. We promote hands-on mentorship, as well as participation in regional beekeeping conferences.


SEMBA Email:  sembabees.info@gmail.com

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