When you are considering getting bees, a good beekeeping class should be your first stop. One of the most frustrating parts getting started with bees is deciding how to start. Managing a hive filled with thousands of stinging insects requires a bit of education. While taking a full course is not a requirement, it can save you some heartache down the road.
Most beekeepers love talking about bees so that was an easy way to get some free beginner beekeeping information.
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This is still one of the best resources for learning about honey bees. Unfortunately, it is harder today to find a beekeeper with the time to help.
Learning to Manage Honeybees is a Skill
Having successful beehives is about more than just buying some bees and putting them in a box. You have hive management chores to do.
A good beekeeping class can help you know:
- how to identify the kinds of bees in the hive
- what is normal bee behavior for the season
- evaluate the performance of your queen bee
- avoid common beginner mistakes
- recognize when there is a big problem – even if you don’t know what it is!
Worker bees, drones and the queen all live inside the hive. It is important to know how to recognize each one and understand their role in the hive.
Routine hive inspections are necessary to keep your bees alive and productive. How do you open the hive and what should you look for once you get in there?
Once the hive is open you need to know what to look for – what is normal for a hive? All these helpful beekeeping tips should be covered in class.
How to Find A Beginner Beekeeping Class
Not every class is the same and maybe that is a good thing. It allows you to learn many different ways to be a good beekeeper. Here are a few ideas to consider when you search for a class.
- contact local beekeeping associations
- ask beekeeping friends for recommendations
- look online for classes
Most regions of the country have beekeeping associations. And, most of the associations hold beginner beekeeping classes in the late Winter.
This is the time of year when the beekeepers are not busy with their own hives. Some regions offer a Spring and Fall class, while others are only available in later Winter.
If you are not aware of any associations in your region, contact your state agriculture department for contact information. They always know where the bee people are.
Ask other beekeepers, but be prepared that they may not have taken a class. Of course, only an average of 20% of new beekeepers make it past the first year. Beekeeping is not hard but it requires preparation too!
Local classes don’t fit everyone’s schedule. That’s the main reason I developed my online beekeeping course. It provides a good quality class for those who could not attend a local course or had missed it .
Search Out References and Take More Than 1 Course
Does it surprise you that I recommend taking more than 1 beekeeping class? Why would I say this?
Well, I have completed several beekeeping courses myself (and I still do when the chance arrives).
I have seen the benefits of having different teachers. Every beekeeper has expertise in different areas. Some people are great beekeepers personally but may not be great at teaching others. Teaching is a skill too.
If you have had any connection with the world of beekeepers, you know that we are an opinionated bunch. That’s okay, but its not the most effective teaching technique.
The basics of honey bee biology and the needs of bees are obvious. But, be prepared to hear a lot of opinions.
This is another reason that I support the idea of taking more than 1 beekeeping class. It gives you a chance to gather useful information from different people.
This gives you a better perspective and you learn more than 1 way to do things. Because in beekeeping, there are certainly many ways to manage bees.
Online Beekeeping Courses
Online beekeeping courses are a great way to learn from different people who have experience with bees.
It should be easy to understand and fit your schedule. You should have access to some type of material to review at a later date.
The class should always cover current beekeeping topics including the basic pests and diseases. But, remember a beginner course may not delve too deeply into these topics.
One benefit of an online beekeeping course is that you can watch the videos and refer back to them later. Your instructor(s) should be familiar with the type problems faced by beginner beekeepers.
Investing in a good beekeeping class or online beekeeping course is money well spent. And, it may just save you from wasting hundreds of dollars too!
Do You Have to Take a Beekeeping Course?
Do you have to take a class to keep bees? No, of course not. If you are able to read and comprehend well, there are some amazing books for beginner beekeepers that can give you the basics.
And of course, various videos on YouTube and other internet locations offer beekeeping advice. This availability though can be a problem as well as a benefit.
Some of the information learned through online videos is not always legal or practical. Vet the references of those producing the video.
Free Beekeeping Classes
I am sure you have learned by now that nothing is free. If you are not paying for the class, you are paying with your time, exposure to things they sell, etc.
You can learn a lot from some of the free classes about basic beekeeping tips. However, they are always centered around what products that business wants to sell you.
Take the class, it may have some great information, but don’t let it be the only beekeeping course you experience.
And, keep an eye out for classes offered by universities that have active entomology departments. Those are often very good.
Know Your Beekeeping Instructor
When choosing the best beekeeping class, consider who is developing the material. I am a Master Beekeeper and I have spent years training new beekeepers through my local beekeeping association and other outreach. But guess what – I don’t know it all – no one does.
Ideally, the instructor of your class will be someone who is the same type of beekeeper as you want to be.
Look for a beekeeping class that has a newsletter that will continue to send you updated information from the beekeeping community.
Knowledge is the key to success. Successful beekeepers know that the time invested in beekeeping education will pay for itself in many ways.
This is where a good beekeeping class becomes important. If you know the basics, everything else fits into place much easier.
Whether you choose my online beekeeping class or one from someone else. Take your time going through the material.
Yes, standing in the bee yard with an experience beekeeper is the ideal but not everyone has that opportunity. No matter the location or format – invest some time in your beekeeping education.