Annual bee schools are conducted by local chapters, adult education programs, beekeeping supply businesses and in cooperation with county extension offices. These practical courses are a must for beginners and a great chance for intermediate level beekeepers to update and refresh their skills. Curriculums and teaching styles may differ so it may be helpful to contact individual programs for details.
More bee school information will be added to this page as it becomes available. We encourage you to attend the Maine-based schools if possible but are also listing out of state organizations due to the smaller number of offerings than usual in 2021.
Bee Schools 2021
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Sustainable Beekeeping for Your Small Apiary: Sustainable beekeeping is a topic that has been discussed a lot in the past few years. It means many things to many people, but to Karen Thurlow, who will be instructing this workshop, it means that you should not have to keep buying bees to replace hives that die during the winter. It’s become common to have high levels of bee death each year in our honey bee hives (for various reasons) and people typically replace these losses with “nucs” (nucleus hives) or package bees brought in from across the country. However this ends up being expensive, as well as having an environmental impact.
This class will be focused on producing, growing, and wintering nucleus hives to replace winter losses in your apiary. Topics will include splitting hives, wintering over nucleus colonies, identifying signs of swarming and acting to prevent it, as well as tips for raising healthy winter bees and a brief discussion on small-scale queen production. This class is aimed at intermediate level beekeepers – those with several seasons under their belt and a familiarity with the tasks of a beekeeper. COST: Free – $40 (sliding scale)
After registering, you should immediately receive a link to the online meeting.
Kennebec Beekeepers Association
We are having a Bee School is year! The class will meet on Saturdays from 9 am to noon on April 3, 10, 17, 24, and May 1st at Viles Arboretum in Augusta. Class size is limited to 20 students in person BUT we will be Zooming as well! Cost is $65.00 for registration and class materials. There will be multiple open hive events throughout the summer for lots of hands-on learning. For more details or to sign up send email to KBA secretary Sheri Zimmerman at firstname.lastname@example.org
We will be offering in-person, socially distanced beekeeping classes that include one open hive field day. The price for the classes are $65 per person including a book, or $100 per couple including one book per couple. For more information or to sign up please send a message via our website or call 207-437-2251.
Beginner Level A: 3/28, 3/30, 4/6, 4/11
Beginner Level B: 3/28, 3/31, 4/7, 4/11
Advanced Level: 3/29, 4/1, 4/5, 4/8
The date for the field day is to be decided.
The Bee Whisperer, Hampden
Hands-on, one day beekeeping orientation class, with the morning spent in a classroom and afternoon outside in the apiary. Discover whether beekeeping is for you, what’s involved, what does it cost? All will be answered. 8am to 3pm. Choice of dates on Saturdays: April 24, May 1, May 22 or May 29. Protective gear available to buy at the store. To register send payment of $75 to The Bee Whisperer, 236 Main Road South, Hampden ME 04444. Please include a phone number with your payment. For more information call 207-299-6948.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Cumberland County
Beginner Beekeeping: This is a great opportunity for new beekeepers, prior to their first year of bees, to learn the basics of honey bee biology and beekeeping. It can also serve as a refresher course for beekeepers now going into their first winter, and even those with a couple of years of experience who want to enhance their skills and knowledge. Taught by EAS certified Master Beekeeper Erin MacGregor-Forbes, the five-session course and will be held online on Thursday evenings, 6 PM to 7:30 PM, from January 14 through February 11. Course fee: $100, includes textbook. Get more details and register here
Intermediate Beekeeping: Apiary Management is geared towards beekeepers with a minimum of two years of experience. The focus of this class will be effectively managing a sideline/hobby apiary under Maine conditions. The intermediate-level class includes IPM strategies for keeping colonies healthy and thriving, utilizing honey bees’ own natural cycles as a guide. How to meet goals you have with your bees such as swarm prevention, honey production, colony health maximization will also covered. The four-session course will be taught by EAS Certified Master Beekeeper, Erin MacGregor-Forbes and will be held online on Thursday evenings, 6 PM to 7:30 PM, from February 25 through March 18. Course fee: $150, includes textbook. Get more details and register here
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Beginner Beekeeping: This course will consist of two sessions in webinar format on Sunday, January 31, 4 PM to 5:30 PM, and Sunday, February 7, 4 PM to 5:30 PM. Instructor Karen Thurlow, a University of Montana certified Master Beekeeper, will prepare you for the earliest decisions you’ll have to make when starting out and then introduce you to the bees themselves – what their roles and basic needs are as well as what you need to look for when inspecting your hive(s), and what each of the four seasons will require of you. Fee: $50; $40 for MOFGA members. Scholarships available. Get more details and register here.
The Honey Exchange, Portland
Beginner Beekeeping is a five-week Zoom class (not a webinar) with two sessions to choose from: Tuesday evenings February 23 – March 23; or Saturday mornings February 27 – March 27. Course instructor Phil Gaven, an EAS certified Master Beekeeper, takes absolute beginners from setting up a new hive, managing it throughout the season, getting ready for winter, and planning for the following spring. The class has a special focus on urban, suburban, and chemical-free beekeeping. Course fee of $125 includes the textbook “The Backyard Beekeeper” (Flottum) and a binder with handouts and weekly outlines. Get more details and register here or call the shop more information: 207-773-9333.
Sophomore/Sustainable Beekeeping is a five-week Zoom class (not a webinar) on Wednesday evenings February 24 – March 24. Intended for novice beekeepers with at least one season with a hive of their own, this course expands on the beginner’s curriculum by focusing on moving toward a sustainable apiary with emphasis on swarm prevention, nucleus colony and honey production, and a closer look at disease control. Course fee of $125 includes the textbook (TBA) Course instructor: Geoff Maclean, Red Brook Honey. Get more details and register here or call the shop more information: 207-773-9333.
RSU 54/MSAD 54 Adult & Community Education, Skowhegan
Beekeeping for Beginners will educate those interested in getting involved with bees on Wednesdays from February 24 through March 24 at 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM. Lessons include assembling bee keeping equipment, installing a nuc (nucleus colony), controlling swarming, and dealing with varroa mites. Other topics such as how and when to harvest honey, how to split hives, and how to winterize will be covered. Class will be held in person at the Poulin-Turner Union Hall in Skowhegan. Masks are required and participants will be socially distanced. On the first night of class, Instructor Mark Reifschneider will collect $55 from each participant to cover the cost of the textbook and for a one-year membership to the Somerset Beekeepers Club. Assignment to a mentor will be available. Registration Fee: $5.00. For more details call Jeremy Lehan, Director at 474-7553 or email him at email@example.com.
Out of State Bee Schools
Connecticut Beekeepers Association:
Beginner Beekeeping: 4 online Zoom sessions
Penn State Extension:
Free Online Courses
Helpful information as a supplement – not a substitute – to in-person or virtual regular courses.
Ohio State Beekeepers Association: “An Introductory Beekeeping Training Program” consisting of short videos.
First Year Beekeeping is presented by biologist and commercial beekeeper Randy Oliver.