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.
2023 SEMBA Bee School Overview
Welcome to SEMBA’s Beginning Bee School. This eight-month course introduces new and aspiring beekeepers to the vast world of beekeeping. Through a combination of presentations from national beekeeping experts, classroom time and hands-on experience, students work closely with a team of proficient beekeeper instructors to learn what to expect and how to manage the first year of keeping honeybees. The course applies sustainable beekeeping practices and exposes students to a broad spectrum of beekeeping information and experience including, but not limited to: The biology of the honey bee, their connection to the pollinators who share their habitats, honey bee health, pests and diseases, seasonal hive management, tools of the trade, and products from the hives. The ultimate goal is to position participants to become successful beekeepers for years to come.
Students are not required to keep bees in order to take this class. Many students choose to wait a year before starting their own apiary. Those that keep bees during the class year will raise one colony in the community bee yard, at the respective class sites, and move them to their permanent locations in the fall. Campus apiaries can only support one colony per student. Therefore, students opting to keep more than one colony must secure other location sites for those colonies.
There is much to discover through this combination of academic and hands-on learning. The material presented is designed to have a direct impact on participants’ success in beekeeping and colony health. While attendance is not mandatory, lack of attendance can be detrimental to meeting the course goals. Therefore, please consider your schedule when committing to this class and/or location.
Given SEMBA’s mission of sustainability, through close collaboration with SEMBA’s beekeeping community, the Michigan Beekeepers Association (MBA), and Michigan State University Pollinator Extension Services, students will have the opportunity to purchase Michigan bred nucleus (‘nuc’) colonies to start their beekeeping journeys.
2023 Class and Bee Yard Schedule:
#01- February 19 - Introduction: Sharing the Joy of Bees. (virtual)
MBA Annual Beekeeping Conference, MSU’s campus, March 10 & 11
#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. Preparing For the Arrival of Your Bees
#05 – June 11 – Hive Inspections - Checking Up on Your Expanding Bee Colony
#06 - July 09 - Bee Biology/Mite Testing
#07 – July 30 - Pests and Pathogens/Treatment and Feeding/Winter Begins In August
#08 – August 27 - Honey Harvest/Are Your Hives Ready for Winter?
#09 – September 24 - Maintenance and Robbing/Mite Load Monitoring/Final Winterizing
#10 – October 15 – Honey Tasting/Wrap Party
Our Beginning Bee School program will be offered at two locations this year:
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; 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. A second book can be purchased at $50 if required for the guest registration.
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:
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.