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 2022 Classes Is Open December 5!

Register Here!

For any questions, please email sembabeeschool@gmail.com

2022 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. 

New for 2022, students will have a choice of two locations for the beginning course: MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center or Bowers School Farm. Each site will have a dedicated area to maintain the student bee hives. In addition, it is our intent to have in person classes abiding by the location COVID protocol requirements (i.e. masks). We will notify students ahead of the classes if masks will be required. 

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 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.

Class schedule:
#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 ($55-$60); your required SEMBA dues ($10); and refreshments/12 in-person class sessions on MSU’s Tollgate campus (@ $19 per class). 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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