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.
Beginning in January, you will learn how to manage colonies out of winter into early spring.
In April, you will participate in raising splits from surviving hives in the community beeyard at Tollgate or Bowers, and conduct autopsies on deadouts (colonies that didn’t survive).
In May, you will install your bees into their new homes.
And for the remainder of June-August, you will raise your bees and learn how to support their nutritional and pest management needs throughout the summer as you head into harvest season.
The final two months of class will focus on winterizing strategies to ensure your colonies are healthy and prepared to survive a Michigan winter.
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 beeyard 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 wallet--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 beeyard 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.
#01- January 23 - Introduction: Sharing the Love of Bees
#02 - February 13 - The Joy of Beekeeping - What to Expect
#03 – March 27 - What Do Bees Need? What Do Beekeepers Need?
#04 – April 24 - What Happened in the Winter Apiary?
#05 – May 15 - Swarms, Nucs & Splits. Preparing for the arrival of your bees!
#06 - June 12- Setting Up a New Bee Colony
#07 – July 10 - Bee Biology
#08 – July 31- Inspecting Nucs and Varroa Testing
#09 – August 14 - Pests and Pathogens
#10 - August 28 - Honey Harvest
#11 – September 11 - Maintenance and Robbing
#12 – October 2 – Social/Winterizing the Hive
Times & Locations:
1:00pm-3:00, Sunday, Tollgate Conference Center/Barn and Community Beeyard.1:00pm-3:00, Sunday, Bowers Farm School/ class room and FAB
Tuition: $300 per person course fee. Tuition includes the required textbook Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping, Caron and Connor ($50); your required SEMBA dues ($10); and refreshments/12 in-person class sessions on MSU’s Tollgate campus. For existing members signing up for this class series, your SEMBA membership will be extended an additional year.