Learning to Bee a Beekeeper
Beekeeping may seem like an easy task at first glance. You put the hives out in your garden or a field and let the bees “do their thing” and collect the honey at the end of the summer. There is so much more to it!
In our changing world and people staying home more, there has been an increase in people interested in beekeeping. Before you go out and buy your honeybees and hive equipment, you need to educate yourself!
Wisconsin has had a rich history of beekeeping since the early 1800s and has a large group of commercial and hobbyist beekeepers. Just like any new hobby or job, you need to learn what to do before you just jump right in. The internet is a great place to find videos and blogs of beekeepers who share their knowledge, but nothing beats experiencing and learning about beekeeping up close.
Just recently, I attended a two-day Beginner Beekeeper class taught by Tim Wilbanks at Heritage Honeybee in Sullivan, Wisconsin. We learned everything from Bee Biology, equipment for beekeeping, disease and pest control and prevention, to how to maintain your hives, and how to collect and process your honey. There was a diverse group of people in the class, people of all ages who wanted to learn more about beekeeping and to learn from an expert.
If you want to start with just one or two hives, learning from a mentor or a teacher can greatly improve your chances of being successful with your hives. I encourage anyone interested in keeping bees to investigate taking classes. Even if you just want to learn more about honeybees and the industry, talking to be beekeeper or joining a beekeeping club can be extremely interesting and rewarding.
I truly feel more confident about starting my hives this spring after taking my beginner’s class. By taking a few classes it can help you decide what kind of hives you want to use, where you should place your hives, what tools you will need, and it can give you ideas on how you will use the products from your hives. Beekeeping classes can be a great refresher for experienced beekeepers also. Attending a class every few years can give you new ideas, connect you with other beekeepers, and help keep you up to date on what is new in the beekeeping world.
The best time of the year to attend a beekeeping class is in the winter, which is when most of them are offered. Take advantage of the cold months and educate yourself on honeybees. This is a perfect time to take a class, order and put together your equipment, and plan for the spring.
Looking for a great resource for getting started in beekeeping? Check out https://www.Wisconsinhoney.org/. There is a lot of wonderful information for new beekeepers!
Anna Evenson is the 2021 Wisconsin Honey Queen