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Thread: Bee School

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Washington County, Maine

    Default Bee School

    It seems there are a variety of intro to beekeeping classes out there - both 1 day "short" courses and longer beekeeping 101 classes that run for 5 - 6 weeks, meeting once a week. Both seem designed to give new beekeepers a helping hand into their new hobby. Obviously the longer classes go more in depth and have time for discussion of more esoteric topics.

    You never can quite know who is going to attend a class nor what their personal agenda might be. Just like on the forum here I've seen people who've never actually had bees get into arguments with long time beekeepers about the "right" way to keep bees. Frequently these "discussions" (I'm being polite) tend to be started by people who have certain philosophies about how the world should work and how bees should be kept. While I know the "discussion" is coming, I'm always saddened by them.

    Bee Schools - especially the longer ones - should be informing students about the rich history of experimentation among beekeepers. The dilemma then becomes one of how to teach crawling before running. How do you get across the concept of learn from us a base of knowledge and then feel free to experiment and keep bees as you desire after you've kept bees alive for a season?

    I hope this thread generates food for thought for teachers of bee schools. I try to remind myself regularly that there are issues I haven't considered and techniques I haven't tried - in other words, I'm just as much a student as the people taking the class.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    OKC, OK

    Default Re: Bee School

    The Oklahoma City Beekeeping 101 class starts Nov. 26 and is 5 three-hour sessions. Traditionally we have about 60 students each year.

    A sideliner with 30 hives in 4 apiaries and I, a backyard hobbyist with 3 hives will be doing the teaching this year. We have developed a whole new cirriculum. It is supposed to be based around "Beginning Lessons in Beekeeping" which the students will all receive a copy of, but that would not have been my choice for a beginning book.

    I have tried to cram as much practical, basic info and photos into the outlines and power points I am preparing as possible. But I am starting with a disclaimer: 1) Ask 10 beekeeprs how to do something and you will get 10 different answers; 2) The bees don't read the same books that I do so they may not always behave/respond the way I say; and, 3) All bee keeping is local, so make sure what you read in books, magazines or on the internet works or is adapted for your climate/location.

    One of the things my co-instructor and I expect to highlight is the fact that he and I have entirely different approaches, so they are going to get two entirely different points of view. For example, I do all 8 frame mediums; he uses 10 frame deeps, mediums and shallows. He only has migratory covers; I only have telescoping. He requeens every fall; I never requeen, unless a hive is queenless or hot. I have slatted bottom racks on all my hives; he doesn't use them; He uses Be Go; I use Be Quick, etc. etc. etc. The list is quite long.

    We are expecting to have a lot of fun.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Bee School

    I do two 7 session 101’s that meet once a month, Dec – May and one final workshop in August. I tell the students that I can only show them the absolute basics but can arm them enough that they should be able to get through their first season successfully. I’ve always advised them that I teach them my methods and that those aren’t necessarily the best but they’ve worked for me. I do encourage them to expand their knowledge beyond the class. Since it’s a serious commitment on their part (7 sessions costing around $200) I typically get folks who are genuinely interested. I've been doing this for eight years and it works pretty well.

    I've posted my class syllabus here:
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA

    Default Re: Bee School

    I like your syllabus. How did you develop it? Did years of experience pare it down to what we now see?
    Mark Berninghausen

  5. #5

    Default Re: Bee School

    The class syllabus originated from a mix of different places.
    You’d see some similarity with the organization of the introductory chapters of ‘The Hive and the Honeybee’. I got some ideas from a class taught at UGA by Keith Delaplane. And some are a result of trial and error. Some things have come from students' input.
    I do need to make some changes but just can’t seem to find the time…probably should redirect some of my Beesource time to it
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson


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