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Learn bees

So you want to keep bees.

Great!

We’re here to help!

First a quick question: Why?

If you answered ”to help save the bees” there are things that can make you a more effective bee crusader.  You might focus, for example,  on improving habitat for Honey bees and native pollinators.  

Did you know that not only is the Honey bee not native to Maine but that there are at least 286 species of native bees in Maine?  Many of those natives are the ones that need saving, not the Honey bees.

But if you answered to learn about bees, improve your garden or orchard pollination, make some honey, get involved with agriculture, keeping bees may be the thing for you.  Most any spot in Maine can support a few hives, and there are plenty of places you can learn about Honey bees and how to keep them!

Depending on your learning style you may find yourself taking a class or reading a book.  There are some great videos and instructional web sites on the Internet.  We’ll be here to help you pick out the books you should read and the web sites you can have confidence in.

Maine has the marvelous reputation for having some of the best bee education in the country.  We’ll help you find right class for you.

There is a support system.  Most areas in Maine have a local bee club and those clubs are almost always part of the Maine State Beekeepers Association.  (a statewide organization for beekeepers and people wanting to learn about beekeeping.)  Maine also has a State Apiarist – a full time person inside the Department of Agriculture who spends a great deal of time providing education about bees and beekeeping.

And of course there is Maine Bee Wellness too.  We want you to be a successful keeper of bees!

So come on in, the water is fine.  Most people spend the fall and winter learning about bees and gathering the equipment that is needed to start keep bees in the spring.  This web site will tell you what you need to know.

Frequently Asked Questions for Beginners (PDF)

 

Beginning bee books

There are hundreds of books about bees and many more if we include out of print ones.  For those just starting out, here are a few we like.  (The links are to Amazon.  Please try to borrow or buy the books locally – we want you to see the covers without dealing with copyright issues.)

Storey's Guide to Keeping Honey Bees, 2nd Edition

Bee-Sentials – A Field Guide

Simple, Smart Beekeeping

First Lessons in Beekeeping

And while often used as a text for introductory classes, we feel it probably should be considered more of an intermediate level text:

The Beekeepers Handbook, 4th Edition

 

VIDEOS

There is no shortage of videos about beekeeping on the internet.  Lots of good ones, some bad, some entertaining and bad.

If you find yourself watching a video and you hear “Watch me as I install my first package,” quickly turn off your computer!  The information presented just could be harmful to your bees!

There are two sets of videos, both available on Youtube, that are full of solid information.  They are produced by The University of Guelph (in Ontario, Canada) Honey Bee Research Centre, and EAS Master Beekeeper David Burns of Long Lane Honey Farms.

Both series are excellent.  Of course there are others.  These are ones we have confidence in.

 

Master Beekeepers

A Master Beekeeper is someone who has demonstrated knowledge of bees and beekeeping to the satisfaction of a certifying organization.

Some certifying organizations simply test, others provide instruction.

In Maine, the most popular program is that of the Eastern Apicultural Society of North America, Inc. that tests candidates once yearly at their Annual Conference & Short Course.  Their annual meeting is hosted by member states, and will be held at the University of Maine in Orono in August, 2020.

A popular on-line option is the program offered by The University of Montana’s School of Extended and Life Long Learning.  Prerequisites include completion of their Apprentice and Journeyman classes – though testing out of them may be an option.

New to our area – and while MEBW is not aware of any Maine participants – it may because of proximity  be interesting – is the Pollinator Network at Cornell.  (College of Agriculture and Life Sciences).  This program offers on-line classes and requires travelling to Ithaca, New York for testing.VIDEOS