2019 Beginning Beekeeping Course  Syllabus

2019 Beginning Beekeeping Course   Syllabus

The Howard County Beekeepers Association, Inc. 

2019 Beginning Beekeeping Course 





The Beekeeper’s Handbook

(Fourth Edition)

Diana Sammataro and

Alphonse Avitabile

2019 HCBA Beginning Beekeeping Course


Class 1

Wednesday, February 13, 2019                     7:00-9:30 pm

Introduction: Welcome to the HCBA Short Course

7:00 to 7:15pm

Dave Dobbs


Session 1.1: Getting Started

7:15 to 7:50pm (35 minutes)

Chapter 3

Danielle Spendiff

  • What you need to get started
  • Equipment



7:50 to 8:00pm


Session 1.2: Apiary Site Locations

8:00 to 8:30pm (30 minutes)

Chapter 4

Doris Walsh

  • Why keep bees and what you get out of it
  • Optimal site location for honey bees


Session 1.3: Zoning Laws in Howard County

8:30 to 8:40 (10 minutes)


Allen Hayes, Master Beekeeper

  • How zoning laws in Howard County affect site selection



8:40 to 8:50pm


Session 1.4: How to Start Colonies

8:50 to 9:30pm (40 minutes)

Chapters 4, 6

Jeff Crooks

  • Ways you can obtain bees (nucs, packages)
  • Ordering and installing packages
  • Obtaining nucs


Class 2

Wednesday, February 20, 2019                         7:00-9:30 pm

 Welcome Back, Review of Material and Questions and Answers from Last Class

7:00 to 7:15pm

Dave Dobbs

Session 2.1: Honey Bee Biology and Behavior

7:15 to 8:15 pm (60 minutes)

Chapters 1, 2, 10, Appendix A & B

Dr. Wayne Esaias, Master Beekeeper

  • Understanding bees (taxonomy)
  • Honey bee races
  • Castes & developmental stages
  • Honey bee anatomy & pheromones
  • Colony Activities


8:15 to 8:25pm

Session 2.2: Swarming and Its Prevention

8:25 to 8:55 pm (30 minutes)

Chapter 11

Jim Fraser, Master Beekeeper

  • Swarms: Why you should care
  • What is a swarm?
  • Reasons for swarming
  • Identifying swarming conditions
  • Swarm prevention & control


8:55 to 9:05 pm

Session 2.3: Discussion of why studying AHB is important in MD (which currently does not have resident AHB, but sometimes gets imported colonies)

9:05 to 9:30pm (25 minutes)

Appendix E, MD Recommended Management Practices

Allen Hayes, Master Beekeeper

  • Quick review of honey bee races
  • African Honey bees (traits, benefits & drawbacks)
  • History of spread of AHB in North America
  • Discussion of why studying AHB is important in MD (which currently does not have AHB)
  • Identifying and remedy of “hot” colonies
  • Description of MD Recommended Management Practices (RMP)

2019 HCBA Beginning Beekeeping Course


Class 3 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019                                        7:00-9:30 pm

 Welcome Back, Review of Material and Questions and Answers from Last Class

7:00 to 7:15pm

Dave Dobbs

Session 3.1: Management of New Colonies

7:15 to 8:00pm (45 minutes)

Chapter 5

Jim Fraser, Master Beekeeper

  • Your “honey goal” for the first year and how to reach it
  • Opening a colony for the first time
  • What to look for while inspecting your colonies


8:00 to 8:10pm

Session 3.2: Local Nectar and Pollen Plants

8:10 to 8:40pm (30 minutes) Chapter 15

Carol Link

  • What are our major sources of nectar here in Howard County?
  • Highlight different floral sources that are available in our area throughout the year


8:40 to 8:50pm

Session 3.3: Feeding Bees

8:50 to 9:30pm (40 minutes)

Chapter 7

Dr Wayne Esaias, Master Beekeeper

Why feed?

  • Sugar Syrup recipes
  • Sugar Syrup Feeder types (pail feeders, top feeders, fondant, division board feeders, Boardman feeder)
  • Feeding in emergency situations (starvation)
  • Feeding bees in the fall
  • Feeding pollen (and how to make a pollen patty)
  • Feeding water (water source, Boardman feeder)


Class 4 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019                                                 7:00-9:30 pm

Welcome Back, Review of Material and Questions and Answers from Last Class

7:00 to 7:15pm

Dave Dobbs

Session 4.1: Products of the Hive

7:15 to 7:45 pm (30 minutes)

Chapter 12

Tina Mullan

  • What is honey?
  • Forms of honey
  • Beeswax
  • Pollen and harvesting pollen
  • Showing and selling honey (label regulations, cleanliness, etc.)


7:45 to 7:55pm

Session 4.2: Honey Bee Pests, Diseases and Other Problems – Part I

7:55pm to 8:40pm (45 minutes)

Chapters 13, 14

Gregg Gochnour, Howard County Apiary Inspector

  • Identification of honey bee pests & diseases
  • What to look for
  • What to do when you encounter something
  • Medications
  • Registering your Bees with the state


8:40 to 8:50 pm

Session 4.3: Honey Bee Pests, Diseases and Other Problems – Part II

8:50 to 9:10pm (20 minutes)

Chapters 13, 14, Gregg Gochnour, Howard County Apiary Inspector

Session 4.4: Things to avoid that will make your first year more successful

9:10 to 9:30

Allen Hayes, Master Beekeeper

        Miscalculations other first year beekeepers have made


Class 5

Wednesday, March 13, 2019                                   7:00-9:30 pm

Session 5.1: Review Of Course Material and Questions and Answers

7:00 to 7:30pm (30 minutes)

Dave Dobbs

  • Recap of things learned
  • Field day dates & activities


Session 5.2: Where’s Waldo – Everybody Makes Mistakes

7:30 to 8:00pm (30 minutes)

Roger Frissora

  • Experience is that thing that lets you recognize a mistake the second time you make it


Session 5.3: Break Out Sessions

8:00 to 9:30 pm (90 minutes)  


  • Installing Wax Foundation with a Spur Embedder Dave Dobbs
  • Under the Microscope Wayne Esaias
  • Sugar Roll and Alcohol Wash for Varroa Detection Dave Schultz
  • Assembling Woodenware Allen Hayes
  • Planting for Honey Bees: Nectar & Pollen Sources Valerie Wampler 


Field Day

A Weekend Day in April, 2019 (Weather Dependent)

Field Days are scheduled starting in April and provide you with the opportunity to observe and get some ‘hands on’ practice working with live honeybees. As long as the weather and outdoor temperatures cooperate, your Field Day will take place at the date and timeframe scheduled. Below is a general checklist of items that may be covered during the Field Day. Other items may be covered; this list is not all-inclusive


Importance of protective equipment

  • Tips on properly wearing suits and veils
  • Types of gloves
  • Tools and how to use 

Tools and equipment

  • Parts of the hive
    • Top cover, inner cover, queen excluder, boxes (and sizes), entrance reducer, screened bottom board, stand
  • Smoker lighting and use
  • Hive Tools and how to use
  • Optional: Frame grabbers and holders

How to open and inspect a colony

  • Smoking
  • Opening the hive
  • How to properly remove and hold frames for inspecting
  • Finding the Queen
    • Identify the Queen, workers, and drones
    • What to look for if you do not find the Queen
  • Recognizing eggs, larva and capped brood
    • Capped brood vs capped honey
  • Brood Patterns
  • “Rainbow” or “Football” pattern of food and brood
  • Honey and Pollen stores
    • Nectar


Varroa Mites and monitoring

  • Explain why it is critical to monitor for varroa regularly
    • When to treat; ‘acceptable levels’
  • Demonstrate sugar roll and/or alcohol wash
    • Use Honey Bee Health Coalition guidelines; using the sticky board alone is no longer standard practice


Feeding and Watering the bees

  • Importance of a water source that is maintained
  • Discuss ways to feed
    • Do not use an entrance feeder.  ONLY put water there if you do use one of these types
  • Explain the importance of feeding throughout the first year
    • Need to build colony strength and food stores


Discussion and/or Demonstration of Installing Packages

  • How to install
  • What can go wrong
    • Weather – too windy, too cold, rainy, etc.
    • No Queen
    • Small hive beetles
    • Wax moths


Other – if there is time

  • Practice marking Queens using drones (or workers) using a marking tube and a matchstick
  • Laying workers (and why)
  • Propolis








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