Cooperative Extension to hold beekeeping classes

Beginning in January 2021, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension will host beekeeping courses for beginners and those with more experience.
Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 7:24 PM EST
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Beekeeping is growing in popularity, as more people take an interest in the food they eat and how it’s raised. In his week’s County Ag Report, Kathy McCarty has more on a program designed to teach participants how to raise the helpful pollinators.

Bees are a vital part of our food chain; they pollinate the crops we eat. Jason Lilley, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, says crops like apples and blueberries rely on bees to pollinate the plants.

“Honey bees and other types of - of bees and pollinators are critical to the majority of our food production, so most of our grains and fruits and vegetables all really would not produce any food for us if they weren’t pollinated by these types of insects,” says Jason Lilley, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

Beekeeping courses continue to be one of his agency’s most popular offerings.

Lilley says, “This winter we’re really expecting a big amount of interest, with a lot of new beekeepers jumping into it this year. And we’re really excited to be able to offer this virtually, which will be the first time we’ve done that. So I - I think that our reach and our interest is going to be much bigger. We’ve already had people sign up from as far away as Alaska.”

Lilley says if you’re interested in getting into beekeeping, do some research in advance of taking the course, and look into where you’ll buy your bees and equipment.

“We’re kind of pushing it with the - with the timing of the course. So our beginner course is January 14th through February 11th. And that, you know, that January timeframe is really about the latest that you’d want to wait to order in either your packages of bees or your bee nucs to get set up,” says Lilley.

An intermediate course will be held from February 25th through March 18th. Lilley says there’s been a huge decline in the bee population in the wild, so it’s critical that we increase pollinator habitat and to bring pollinators into the area. For more information on either course or how to register, visit Kathy McCarty, NewsSource 8

University of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering separate online beekeeping classes for beginner and experienced beekeepers starting Jan. 14 and Feb. 25.

The five-session beginning class, for beekeepers with less than one year’s experience, meets from 6–7:30 p.m. Jan 14–Feb. 11. With a focus on the basics of honeybee biology and beekeeping, the class can also act as a refresher for beekeepers going into their first winter. The fee is $100 per person, with required book; $70 if required book is purchased elsewhere. Register on the Beginner Beekeeping webpage.

The four-session intermediate class, for beekeepers with a minimum of two years’ experience, meets 6–7:30 p.m. Feb. 25–March 18. Focused on effectively managing a hobby apiary in Maine, topics include maximizing colony health, honey production and swarm prevention. The fee is $150 per person, with required books; $80 if required books are purchased elsewhere. Register on the Intermediate Beekeeping: Apiary Management webpage.

All classes are taught by Eastern Apiculture Society Certified Master Beekeeper Erin MacGregor-Forbes. For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact 207.781.6099; More information also is available on the program website.

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