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Introductory to advanced beekeeping. Courses open to the public.
Are you thinking about starting a backyard beehive? Wondering what it takes to start one and keep it healthy and growing?
Start by taking an introductory beekeeping course at the ASU School of Life Sciences bee lab.
Or, if you already know the basics and are ready to develop more advanced skills, we offer more technical classes including insemination of queen bees and queen rearing.
Did you know hobby beekeepers are helping the support the world's food supply by raising bees? Join us and find out more about our courses for Fall of 2019 at the link below.
Broadening beekeeping education
Honey bees serve as pollinators for the majority of the world’s crops, and their global decline threatens the world’s food supply.
However, hobby beekeepers have been helping to improve this by installing hives in their backyards. According to “Bee Culture” magazine, there are now more than 120,000 hobby beekeepers and a 3% rise in honey bee colonies, in the United States.
However, there are lots of factors to consider before starting a bee colony and lots to learn once you have it going. So, Arizona State University offers several continuing professional education courses on hobby beekeeping at the Honey Bee Research Lab on the Polytechnic campus, led by the School of Life Sciences manager of the facility, Cahit Ozturk.
The classes, which are one day for introductory classes and two days for advanced classes, are held on weekends during September and October and offer students a range of topics as well as the opportunity to take advantage of the equipment at one of the largest bee laboratories in the U.S.
“We have a really good environment here, so when it’s empty, I say we are wasting our resources,” Ozturk said. “We should share this with other people.”
For those with no experience, Ozturk offers an introduction to beekeeping and hobby beekeeping courses that teach the basics: how to start, where to get your colony, when to start, how to check for diseases and parasites, how to harvest your honey, and how to take care of your colonies.
More experienced beekeepers can take advantage of the advanced classes, such as instrumental insemination of queen bees, royal jelly production and queen rearing.
One of the biggest concerns of hobby beekeepers, especially in the south, is that their queens can breed with Africanized bees, making them more aggressive and difficult to handle.
“You need to change your queens every one or two years because young females lay more eggs and keep the colonies strong,” Ozturk said. “Otherwise, they will change the queen on their own and mate in flight, and we can’t control that. Africanized bees are good bees, but they are very aggressive. We have very gentle, Italian bees here, but the only way to keep those breeding lines pure is to control the mating.”
However, the inseminating a bee can be difficult and requires special, expensive equipment. Ozturk said that before beekeepers invest in this equipment, they want to be sure they can use it properly. Because of this, Ozturk invested personal funds in purchasing equipment for the advanced classes, which allows students to learn the skills and test the equipment before buying their own.
Of the seven students that took the class last semester, half left with an inseminated queen to add to their colony.
“Whether they were hobbyist or commercial beekeepers, Dr. Ozturk’s teaching method was well in tune with all of the people in the class. He provided assistance and instruction at the level needed for all and sincerely wanted you to leave his course having learned the techniques and skill necessary to be successful at instrumental insemination,” said Ed Russell, who traveled from the Florida Keys to take the class. “After the two days were over, Dr. Ozturk emphasized that he was available anytime to answer questions and provide assistance. I’ve never attended an ASU course before, but I do feel like I’m part of an ASU family now.”
By Melinda Weaver, Communications Specialist