Beekeeping is seasonal, regional, and nuanced.
This is what makes learning to keep bees challenging. Finding a mentor beekeeper to aid you is terrific, if you can find one you can trust and whose philosophy aligns with yours, willing to dedicate the time to you and your bees. The DIY approach of taking a few classes and reading books and blogs can be a great way to get started. Unfortunately, many of the beekeeping books are written by northern beekeepers, who have very different concerns and seasonal considerations than those of us in Texas. And did you know know that a beekeeper with one hive generally will have, at most, 6 hours of hands-on beekeeping experience at the end of their first year? This isexacerbated by the fact that you will only learn how to identify and handle situations presented to you by your hive. Lucky enough to not have any disease in your nest your first or second year? Have bees that do so well that fall feeding isn't your concern? Sounds terrific, until you realize you learn a great deal more when things go wrong than when they go right.
Based on feedback of working with hundreds of new beekeepers the last 2 years, we have developed a 6 month intensive, hands-on beekeeping apprenticeship program. This apprenticeship will provide you more than 50 hours of in-person instruction, and more than half of those hours will be spent suited up inspecting bee hives. Rather than only having access to 1 or 2 hives in your own backyard, you will have access to more than 100 hives. This will allow you 100 times more opportunities to witness various bee diseases, pests, and other circumstances that require beekeeper intervention. Further, you will receive 4 times the number of hands-on hours checking hives in our six month program than you would in an entire year of managing one hive.
Get 4 years of beekeeping experience in just 6 months!
We will meet one Saturday a month for 6 months (see list of dates for next class below!) One half of the day will be dedicated to classroom learning, and the remainder of the day will be spent suited up inspecting hives. Each month you will be provided readings to do on your own time to prepare for the next session. Locations will be announced the week before each scheduled session, and all apiary sites are located within 20 miles of downtown Austin, and most are within 10 miles. By dedicating one Saturday a month, you will see the vast seasonality involved in beekeeping, and receive hands-on instruction to learn how what we can expect each season, what interventions may be required, and how to respond to what has become unpredictable Texas weather. Your curriculum will include, but is certainly not limited to:
- How to move frames and hive bodies carefully to injure as few bees as possible
- How to determine if your hive is queen-right
- What to do if your hive becomes queen-less
- Why, how, and when to perform a hive inspection
- When and why we add or take away bodies in a hive
- How to share resources between hives
- Why, how, when, and what to feed your bees
Advanced Beekeeping Techniques
- Get an in-depth understanding of the incredibly seasonality of beekeeping
- How to split a hive and make nucleus hives
- Identifying brood (nest) diseases and your organic and chemical free options
- Deterring and dealing with pests and disease
- Identifying and eliminating laying workers
- Capturing swarms
- Performing a bee hive removal
- The history of beekeeping
- Bee biology and behavior
- Beekeeping terminology
- How to light a smoker
Starting a Hive:
- Install a new package of bees
- How to install a new queen
- Selecting and preparing your apiary site
Producing and Harvesting Honey:
- How to identify a nectar flow
- What to plant to increase your bees' honey production
- Identifying when you can responsibly harvest how much to take
- How to harvest honey without expensive extractors
- Producing comb honey
- Rendering wax to make wax products such as lotion bars, lip balms, and candles
Your registration includes lunch each session. These lunches will allow us to get to know one another more outside the bee yard, and allow you to get to experience the amazing farm-to-table scene in Austin at restaurants such as Odd Duck, Swift's Attic, and Anjore. Lunches will either be a sit-down lunch in the restaurant, or a boxed lunch for those days spent mostly in the field. Lunches include your meal, non-alcoholic beverages, tax, and tip.
Please ensure you mark the following dates in your calendar! Can't make one of these? Email us and let's chat about if the program makes sense and if we can make up that work in other ways.
SPRING 2018 DATES: January 27, February 24, March 24, April 28, May 19, June 23
Ready to become a master beek?
The apprenticeship is limited to ensure each of our apprentices received a truly-hands on experience. Tuition is $1100 plus $365 materials and tools fee. Your material and tools will include:
- hive tool
- bee brush
- a Two Hives Honey workbook
- the Idiot's Guide to Beekeeping
- a ventilated jacket and veil (If you would like to upgrade to a full ventilated suit, add $50.)
- sit-down or box lunch each day at one of Austin's most popular farm-to-table restaurants
Are you already a beekeeper and already have some of these tools? Email us and we will work with you to learn what gear you already have! Check out our FAQ for a list of common questions and the scheduled dates and mark your calendars!
Want to start your own hives along the way? Select from the following add-ons to get your own hives and bees in spring 2018.
Ready to start your own hives, and put into practice all that you will learn next year? You can choose to add on the following. Please ensure you choose one of the following for each hive you plan to start. If you have already purchased bees, simply add on your bee hive kit.* Don't hesitate to reach out with questions!
- Assembled Langstroth Cypress Kits, starting at $267
- Treatment-free package of bees: $250
*Note that we strongly recommend all of our students start two hives, instead of just one. This is because you can share resources between hives, and it is our experience that it is easier to keep two hives strong and healthy.