Hands On Beekeeping For Beginner/Intermediate Beekeepers

Trimbelle Valley Apiary is happy to announce that we will be offering a season long "hands-on" beekeeping class.  This class is geared toward those who have either already taken an introductory beekeeping course, or want to dive right in and find out if beekeeping is a hobby they would like to pursue, all while being surrounded by like-minded souls.

Why offer a class like this?  Many prospective beekeepers have asked for it.  They have heard and read all the news about the troubles our pollinators are facing in the U.S. and realize they can help by maintaining a hive or two.  Anyone who has visited with an established beekeeper also quickly finds that the hobby is fascinating.  You can spend years working with and learning about bees and never get bored—they are endlessly fascinating.

However, getting started in beekeeping can be an expensive and intimidating undertaking unless you have a mentor to help guide you through the endless questions you'll undoubtedly have.  That's where Trimbelle Valley Apiary comes in.  Our hands-on beekeeping course will help take the fear out of maintaining your own hive.  This is because we believe in teaching by doing, NOT simply reading about it in a book.  No book can teach you what it's like to physically handle a frame with hundreds of bees attached, learn to light a smoker, capture and mark a queen, get to know the difference between happy and "mean" bees, identify diseases, or what it sounds like to be surrounded by a cloud of thousands of bees.

We believe it may be best for a new beekeeper to start small, especially when you evaluate the overall cost of entering this hobby.  You'll need to purchase all sorts of equipment and supplies:  bees, queens, hive boxes, frames, foundation, bottom boards, top boards, suits, etc. etc.  The list can get endless.  And then there are all the "issues" you'll confront managing your hives—and trust us—there WILL be issues AND a ton of questions.  With the introduction of the Varroa mite, the happy "good old days" of buying a hive, placing it in a field, forgetting about it for the summer and then harvesting a bunch of honey are over!

And then, what if you find that this hobby really doesn't suit you?  One of the objectives of this class is to let you "try before you buy all in".  This way you can start small and work your way up as you see fit.  We think it's more logical for you to determine whether you want to pursue this hobby without investing an inordinate amount of money up front.

The primary goal of this class is to transition you into beekeeping using smaller nucleus hives rather than full-sized colonies.  This allows for a less expensive and less intimidating introduction to this amazing hobby.  You will have your own small beehive to own and manage (that you also build/assemble) and, along with your classmates, will be ushered through an entire summer of practical beekeeping.  In the end, you will know far more about this fascinating hobby than you'd ever glean from a book (you will never get stung reading…) AND toward the end you'll learn how to extract and take home fresh honey.

But more importantly you'll have colleagues working with you who will have many of the same questions.  You'll learn together, share hive notes and observations, and have experienced mentors to help you through process and answer the endless questions you'll undoubtedly have.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to become a successful beekeeper is to work with a mentor.


Cost

The course is structured to be taken in one of two ways.  You can take the class individually and build and manage your own hive, or you can take the class with a partner and share a hive.  The cost to take the course as an individual is $400.  This includes your woodenware, bees and queen, and 10 sessions of hands-on seasonal instruction (see details below).  If you take the class with a partner and share a hive, the additional cost for the partner is $200. The cost of the class breaks down this way—roughly $200 for woodenware, supplies and bees, and $200 for 10 mentoring sessions.  In addition, you will have the opportunity to participate in other apiary activities, e.g. full sized hive inspections.

What is included in the the cost of the class?

  • Woodenware…

    • 3, 4 or 5-frame medium nuc boxes;

    • 1 outer/feeder cover;

    • 1 bottom board;

    • 1 entrance reducer.

  • Medium frames/foundation to fill the nuc boxes.

  • Bees and queen to get started…

    • either an overwintered nucleus hive, or

    • a 1.5 pound package of bees with a new queen.

  • 1 quart of fresh honey you will extract at the end of the season.

  • Mentoring and training…

    • Either Brad, Kim or another local experienced beekeeper will be present at all of our scheduled meetings. As the course is designed to span the entire summer and through the honey extraction season, there will be times when each of us (you as well as us) may have another critical obligation, e.g. family vacations, and we will simply have to schedule accordingly.

    • Mentors will be available to answer questions during the scheduled meetings throughout the season. If you choose to leave your hives at our apiary, we will be available to help you during your inspections. Should you choose to bring your hives home or another location, you will have to bring your questions to the meetings. Please don't expect mentors to visit off-site locations to inspect individual hives.

  • You will also have opportunities to participate in our other apiary hive inspections and activities.

How to Register for the Class

Once you decide which class option you prefer, please make a check out to Trimbelle Valley Apiary LLC for either $400 or $600 and mail to the address below.

To register for the class, please fill out the Contact Us form and simply put "Summer Bee Class" in the subject line.  Please include the full name and email for your partner in the message box.

If the class doesn't meet its minimum enrollment number, your entire registration fee will be refunded.  The deadline for registration is March 25, 2017 and acceptance will be on a first come basis.


Class Location

 

 

Trimbelle Valley Apiary LLC

N7243 810th St.

River Falls, WI  54022


Tentative Schedule

Unless otherwise noted, all class sessions will begin at 1:00 pm and will end at 3:00 or 4:00 depending upon the agenda.  Class will meet at the honey house of Trimbelle Valley Apiary (TVA).

 

"I WISH I’D TAKEN THIS CLASS BEFORE I STARTED TRYING TO KEEP BEES A COUPLE OF DECADES AGO, AND THEN EVERY YEAR FOR AT LEAST FIVE AFTER THAT.  I LEARNED A TON OF STUFF.  WHAT A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR ME TO SPEND TIME WITH FOUR SUCH EXPERIENCED BEEKEEPERS WHO REALLY LOVE THE WORK AND THE SCIENCE OF THE CRAFT.  IT WAS WORTH EVERY PENNY AND MORE"

 
 
Queen surrounded by workers.

Queen surrounded by workers.


Meeting One

Our first meeting will give us a chance to walk you through the bee season and what you can expect.  We will go over the equipment and supplies you will need, where you can purchase them and when you will need to have them.

  • Introductions;

  • Tour of the apiary and honey house facilities;

  • Course and seasonal apiary overview;

  • Create a "group" order for any supplies and equipment that will be needed;

  • Start assembling and/or making woodenware, e.g. boxes, covers, etc.;

  • Create a group contact list to share among all participants.

  • NOTE: there will be more frequent meetings early in the season as these are critical times to monitor the progress of your new colony while it is getting established. Once we are confident the queen has been accepted, is laying eggs, and the colony has enough resources to thrive on its own, inspections and meetings can be less frequent.

Meeting Two

  • Package installation and/or nuc transfers.

    • depending on whether you will be using "package bees" or an established "nucleus" colony, they will be installed or transferred into your own new equipment and set into their summer home in the apiary either here at TVA, or a location you choose.

    • bees will be fed and buttoned up.

*PLEASE NOTE:  BEEKEEPING SCHEDULES ARE ENTIRELY RELIANT UPON THE WEATHER AND AVAILABILITY OF BEES.  DATES CAN CHANGE IF BEE OR QUEEN DELIVERIES ARE DELAYED.  CURRENTLY THE PACKAGE DELIVERY DATES HAVE NOT BEEN FINALIZED.

Meeting Three

Packages and nucs must be checked to ensure that queens have been released and they have adequate feed.  This is a critical time and weather can play a huge role in our schedule.

Meeting Four

Hive inspections to assure queen is laying, resources are available and there are no obvious problems.  At all of these meetings there may be the opportunity to help inspect full size hives that will be in the apiary.

Meeting Five

The beginning of routine colony inspections.  Each colony must be inspected every 7–10 days throughout the summer.  These inspections can be brief, or, you can spend time "digging into" your hive and evaluate them in more detail.  At the very least during each inspection you will…

  • lightly smoke your bees to calm them;

  • carefully pull frames being careful not to roll (kill) or lose your queen;

  • check for eggs, larvae and capped brood;

  • hopefully find the queen (just to ease your mind that she's there);

  • assure adequate pollen and nectar stores are available

  • determine whether additional space is necessary and add if needed;

  • evaluate the overall health of the bees/colony

SO, we will plan to meet approximately every 4 weeks (Saturdays if possible) from this time forward.  The primary things to look for are bee health, space (we want to avoid swarming if possible, but bees do what they want to do), queen quality, etc.

 

Meeting Six

Routine hive inspections.  Check for queen, space, feed and begin evaluating for Varroa mites.

Meeting Seven

Routine hive inspections.  Check for queen, space and Varroa.  We are in the major honey flow of the summer and it's critical to "stay ahead" of the bees so they don't run out of space and decide to swarm.  You will also be rotating/adding frames to get the comb drawn out.

Meeting Eight

Routine hive inspections as above.  You may have full frames of honey by this time.  It's critical to be monitoring for Varroa going into the fall.

Meeting Nine

Honey extraction.  Treat for mites if necessary and feed if necessary.

Meeting Ten

How to prepare your hives for winter.

 
 
 

What Do You Need to Supply to Take This Class?

  • Bee suit

  • Bee gloves

  • Hive tool

  • Leather/rubber boots or elastic closures

  • Smoker/smoker fuel

  • Sugar/pollen patty

  • Varroa treatment

  • Water bottle (we have water to fill bottles)

  • Snacks if you need them

  • Small notebook/pencil-pen

  • POSITIVE ATTITUDE