Important Update: Due to COVID-19 we have limited our class size. We have closed registration for 2020.
See new dates & times on schedule below. To safely accommodate our students we have reduced the number of participants, and scheduled additional sessions. Our plans may change depending on the advice of health experts and state government. We will cancel classes if there is any risk to our customers.
Beekeeping Classes & workshops 2020
2020 marks our 20th season teaching new and experienced beekeeping programs. We have introduced hundreds of new beekeepers to honeybees and the management it takes to keep bees and produce honey. This year we are taking a new approach by adding all our workshops to the beginning in beekeeping class, and re-thinking our checklist of priorities: starting colonies, producing honey, and providing healthy management techniques – proven, not experimental or alternative.
Dan has focused on providing the basics to new beekeepers. Getting the hive started, feeding and growing the colony, with a minimum of treatment. But the basics no longer provide a foundation for new beekeepers to succeed. 2020 will include the basic prerequisites needed to start a colony, but will also include those management skills to prevent swarming, increase honey production (including honey products) and wintering techniques (the New England final exam). This will provide new beekeepers with the opportunity to look ahead to season two, and prepare for management typically not experienced the first year.
We have also reviewed our strengths & weaknesses in past workshops. Our strength has always been that we have a proven management system, and we have many colonies to demonstrate our management. We have been beekeepers for fifty years and made our living as beekeepers for twenty years. Our beekeeping has focused on reducing treatments in hives, improving the bees’ natural resistance to disease, and finding the best methods to keep our bees healthy and productive. Warm Colors has benefited from our continued revision of management and learning from past mistakes. This is what we can offer our students.
How will we apply this to 2020? By increasing those hands-on opportunities for our students. Formal classes will continue to be organized around a lecture, handouts and bee yard demonstrations. New this year will be the additional opportunities to spend time working in the bee yards, experiencing in real-time the seasonal work in a commercial apiary. Dan will post a schedule of tasks planned week to week, and take a few volunteers as helpers. Volunteers will be selected from those enrolled in the WCA workshops.
We sell books at our South Deerfield shop. These are the references and how to books we consider accurate and well written. Visit our store if you are looking for reading material. Many are books written by authors who have visited and taught programs at Warm Colors. These are Dan’s picks, and a few include endorsements on the back cover.
- Lectures that identify & explain keys points
- Textbooks & Written information
- Hands-on demonstrations in the bee yard
- Weekly opportunities to learn by helping at WCA
Hands-on and practical management is our focus
1. Starting in Beekeeping #1 (includes all workshops) March 29, 2020, 1-3:30 PM – for beginning beekeepers. POSTPONED to APRIL 4th & 5th 1-3:30 PM. – Completed.
- Class sizes reduced – two sessions of small groups.
- Outdoors – to maintain “Social Distancing”, no contact.
- Wear personal protection – masks, gloves, etc.
This class designed for new beekeepers. We focus on the basic tasks used in managing a first, and second year, honeybee colony. Enrollment in this class gives the new beekeeper access to all our workshops. This session reviews what you will need to get started, and introduces you to the behaviors and biology of the honey bee essential for successful apiary management.
- Equipment & tools used in beekeeping.
- Picking a location – requirements & apiary laws.
- Ordering bees – races, package bees, and Nuc colonies.
- Behavior – foraging, annual population cycle, swarming, and communication.
- Biology – Honey bees are the swiss army knife of the pollinators
- Distribute textbooks, DVD, bee, and equipment ordering information
Cost: Includes Beginning classes and all 2020 workshops $225.
2. Starting in Beekeeping #2 May 17, 2020, 1 – 3:30 PM – for beginning beekeepers. – Completed
This session reviews the monthly tasks, and bee colony dynamics the beekeeper must understand to manage a colony. We will discuss beekeeper tasks, actions to correct problems and complete the beekeeper’s checklist.
- Month by month activity list.
- Inspections – what do you look for, how do you respond?
- The big three – Queen, worker population and honey & pollen reserves.
- Predicting the future of the hive – comb evaluation, calculating growth, diagnosing stress in the colony.
- Building a personal management system – information useful for local decision making. Recordkeeping & knowledge-based planning.
Cost: This program only $50. (included in complete Starting in Beekeeping class)
3. Installing package bees & Nucs – Sunday April 19th, 1-3 PM – appropriate for all beekeepers. – Completed
Note: This is a change in day and date – earlier than originally scheduled.
The date is subject to change as we provide demonstrations when we hand out package bees. This year we will hand all packages out on one weekend. We show how to care for your caged bees or 5-frame Nucs, and best methods for introducing the queen. This is a free workshop that we offer to first-time beekeepers, or those needing a refresher on the care & feeding of their new colony. Weather conditions can vary from warm and sunny to wet and cold. We have successfully installed bees in snowstorms. This is where we adapt the installation procedures to the conditions nature hands us. Cost: FREE
- Picking the best package – questions to ask.
- Checking the Queen – requirements of an excellent queen.
- Setting up the new hive – be ready for your bees.
- Introducing a Queen – steps & checks for Queen acceptance.
- Installing the package bees – depends on the weather.
- Feeding – feeders, how much, and how long?
- Care for Nucs – tricks of the trade.
(No need to register– this program is free.)
4. Spring & Summer Management – June 14th, 2020 1-3:30 PM – appropriate for beginners and review for experienced beekeepers. – Completed
A review of spring tasks, including hive evaluation, feeding and prevention of disease. Honey production, swarm prevention and early activities commonly performed during spring and summer. Bring protective clothing for bee yard demonstrations. Handouts included.
- How to grow your colony – proper feeding, adding space, Queen performance.
- Conducting a proper inspection – the importance of recordkeeping and researching tasks.
- Mite sampling, the importance of early detection of disease, honey bee defenses.
- Swarm prevention & control.
- Making colony “splits” and Nucs for apiary expansion.
- Increasing honey production – knowing the plants that produce the nectar flows, honey supering techniques, when to extract the honey harvest.
Cost: This program & handout $40.
5. Queens Management & Evaluation – July 12, 2020 1 – 3:30 PM – appropriate for second season beekeepers. Beginners are welcome. Completed
The Queen’s ability to lay eggs, pass desirable behaviors (through her genetics) to workers and drones, make her the most important member of a colony. The beekeeper must be able to evaluate the Queen’s performance and recognize when a Queen must be replaced. We will discuss Queen development, mating & drones, and evaluation by measuring brood comb, and worker behavior.
We will also provide instruction on raising Queens for the small apiary. In the bee yard, we will demonstrate simple techniques to raise daughters from your best performing Queen. The use of Queen cells, creating emergency conditions to stimulate Queen rearing in the colony, and using Nucs to raise a few Queens will be covered.
Follow up volunteer opportunities will be scheduled for those participants wanting to work with Dan raising Queens at Warm Colors Apiary.
- Queen care and handling – comb, nurse bees, and nectar.
- Marking queens – age, visual, and genetic lineage.
- Predicting worker populations & swarming.
- Large scale Queen production.
- Small scale Queen production – the true locally grown Queen.
- What makes an excellent Queen? Genetics, development and drones.
Program, Textbook & Handout: $75.
6. Fall & Winter Management – August 16th, 2020 1-3:30 PM – appropriate for all levels of beekeeping.
The final exam for beekeepers is preparing hives for winter. This begins in early fall when there is still time to correct problems. Queen evaluation, feeding, and winter food reserves, lack of mites and disease will be explained. Wrapping & insulating hives, locations, and equipment will be discussed. Bring protective clothing for the bee yard. Handout included.
- What does a healthy hive look like?
- Queen, worker population, food reserves and size of the colony.
- Varroa mites & Nosema disease key factors in wintering colonies.
- Thermoregulation in the hive – masters of temperature control.
- External conditions – fencing, windbreaks, sunshine, wrapping & insulating hives.
Cost: Program & Handout $40.