Yesterday, we spent the day on the campus of Kentucky State University for the 14th Annual Bluegrass Beekeeping School. There are a number of courses and workshops offered in different locations throughout Kentucky, and the Kentucky State Beekeepers Association has a comprehensive list here: http://www.ksbabeekeeping.org/bee-schools-and-related-events/.
Bluegrass Beekeeping School offered different tracks for attendees to select, depending on their experience level. For complete novices (like us), there were four consecutive introductory sessions that covered the basics of beekeeping. For more experienced apiarists, there were several choices per time slot of sessions with topics ranging from top bar bee hives to making mead to bee diseases. While many of the topics sounded intriguing, we attended the introductory courses so that we would have a solid foundation of knowledge upon which we could build (meaning that we’ll go back next year and attend some of those other sessions!).
So what did we learn? First, that we didn’t really know that much about bees: for example, did you know that a drone comes from an unfertilized egg laid by the queen? And that worker bee eggs, under certain circumstances, become queens? Or that a bee’s heart is in its abdomen? Those are just a few of the fascinating facts we learned yesterday. We also learned practical skills, like how to get your smoker going properly so you’re not caught off guard when you go to work on the hive, how to protect yourself to minimize stings and how to remove stingers (remember, honeybees die after they sting you), how to safely approach the hive, and how to identify potential problems within the hive.
We also appreciated the presenters’ candor when they advised that new beekeepers would be very, very fortunate if they harvested any honey in the first year, and that this could be an expensive endeavor because it requires specialized equipment, not to mention the cost of bee “nucs” (nucleus colonies).
The information provided was very useful, and it we felt it was well worth the cost ($25 per person if you preregistered, and that included a box lunch meal and morning coffee and doughnuts) and would recommend it to anyone interested in beekeeping. We heard that approximately 300 people attended from five different states – we even saw an attendee from North Carolina.
As an added bonus, there were multiple opportunities to win door prizes, including special ones for “new” beekeepers…and we’re happy to report that we won an awesome bee kit! It’s ironic to have won because we never win anything. Seriously. What a great start to our beekeeping journey!
Our next step will be to get connected to our local beekeepers association and acquire our bees. Stay tuned for more bee adventures.