Betterbee has reimagined our beekeeping curriculum, and we wanted to offer a class that covers all of the important topics a beginning beekeeper needs to know, but which is geared towards beekeepers who may already own a hive or two, and who have spent at least a year doing some amount of beekeeping. It's still a "beginner" level class, but it's for those who are at a sort of "beginner and little more" level of knowledge and skills.
The Core Plus course is divided into 3 sections, and time will be provided after each section for students to ask questions:
Section 1: Covers the biology and life cycle (development) of honey bees. Understanding the normal functions of a colony is key to recognizing what is normal or abnormal when we examine a hive. We will learn about the different castes of bees (the queen, workers, and drones) and their roles in the life of the colony, and how to tell them apart. There will be photographs of combs with pollen, brood, eggs, and honey and the differences will be explained so you'll know what to look for when examining a hive. We will also spend a few minutes on the history of beekeeping and what innovations made modern beekeeping possible.
Section 2: Covers two main subjects: hive equipment and personal protective equipment. We will present the various options available in beehives and the advantages and disadvantages of each design. We will also cover the different options for obtaining the most important equipment for your first colony: the bees! We will discuss equipment you already own, and talk about what additional or alternate equipment may be useful. We will also talk about how to examine colonies in spring, and begin our conversation on managing varroa and swarms.
Section 3: Covers hive inspections and seasonal management. Emphasis will be on determining the status of a colony and what it needs from you. We will discuss what a "good brood pattern" looks like, and how to decide whether colonies need supplemental food or to be given extra hive space for storing surplus honey. We will also go through "a year in the life" of the colony and will discuss what to expect and what needs to be done during each season of the beekeeping year. Finally we will emphasize how important it is to understand, recognize, and control honey bee pests and diseases. Many beginning beekeepers watch their colonies die from disease, and our hope is to prevent that in all of our students.
No preparation is required to take our Core course, but we encourage students to review a beekeeping book (or a few!) before they come to class. One excellent text we like is Diana Samataro's The Beekeeper's Handbook.
Dates and times: We offer our Core courses in two scheduling formats:
Either format includes three online meetings that will end with time for questions and discussion between the instructor(s) and the students.
Note: We also offer a class called Core Bee Course. This is meant more for beginner beekeepers and prospective beekeepers who want to learn about keeping bees but who have little to no experience interacting with bees.
Fulfills the New Jersey requirement that new beekeepers take a class in their first year of beekeeping.