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 is exacerbated 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.
Our apprenticeship program is now in it's fifth running, and is based on feedback of working with hundreds of new beekeepers the last 3 years. This 6-month intensive, hands-on beekeeping apprenticeship program 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 150 hives. This will allow you 150 times more opportunities to witness various bee diseases, pests, and other circumstances that require beekeeper intervention. Further, you will receive 5 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.
****Note: The apprenticeship is held twice a year, and it sells out each session. The Fall 2019 Session is now open for registration!
Get 5 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
Performing a bee hive removal
The history of beekeeping
Bee biology and behavior
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
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 The Hightower, TRACE, and Dai Due. 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. We will also provide select beverages for your classroom time each month.
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.
FALL 2019 DATES: August 24, September 14, October 5, November 9, February 29, March 14
The Apprenticeship program is limited to 18 people per session to ensure a truly-hands on experience, and does sell out. Classroom sessions will be held together as a group, and you will be broken into 2-3 groups for a more hands-on experience for all beekeeping work.
Ready to become a master beek?
The apprenticeship is limited to ensure each of our apprentices received a truly-hands on experience. Tuition is $1350 plus $365 materials and tools fee. Payment plans available, or save $100 by paying in full! Your material and tools will include:
a Two Hives Honey workbook
the Idiot's Guide to Beekeeping
a ventilated jacket and veil (add $40 to upgrade to a full suit)
sit-down or box lunch each day at one of Austin's most popular farm-to-table restaurants
beverages each session
Are you already a beekeeper and already have some of these tools? Select "N/A" for your protective gear at registration and we will email you to learn what gear you already have! Check out our FAQ for a list of common questions and the scheduled dates listed to the right and mark your calendars!
Ready to start your own hives, and put into practice all that you will learn next year? You can choose to add on a package of bees for next spring.* Don't hesitate to reach out with questions!
Treatment-free package of bees: $265 (will arrive Spring 2020)
Note that this does not include your woodenware. We will work together your first session to determine what hive type is best for you and your bees! Not ready to sign up for bees now? No problem! We can help you order your bees once the program starts.
FALL 2019 DATES:
August 24, September 14, October 5, November 9, February 29, March 14
If you are concerned that you will miss one of these days, email us and let's discuss if we can make it work! You can make up to 1 session with the next apprenticeship class.
*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.