Introduction to Beekeeping

This class introduces the beginning beekeeper to the science and craft of beekeeping and the history and language of beekeeping. It is also a good refresher for those who have been beekeeping for 1-2 years. Classes will be held in Savage, Aitkin, and Cloquet, MN. Click on the Registraton Links for class location, dates, and time.


Class Content



Introduction of the speakers and class logistics. Topics such as web sites, social media, consensus beekeeping, hobby versus commercial beekeeping, and reference materials will be covered.

Basic Taxonomy (Bees are not Wasps)

Understand why bees and wasps are not the same and the value of each to the environment. The different species and various breeds of honey bees will be discussed.

Basic Honey Bee Morphology

The different stages of a honey bee from the egg to adult and the different adult castes and how to identify each.

Basic Honey Bee Anatomy

Overview of the colony caste system followed by an anatomical overview of the worker, queen, and drones.

LAB: Microscopic examination of the honey bee.

History of Beekeeping

Throughout history man has had an affinity with the honey bee and has experimented with various methods to acquire the sweet delight. This will be an overview of beekeeping with special emphasis on the major contributors to beekeeping.

Tools and Hive Equipment

This topic covers the tools of the trade, the basics of the modern hive design, what the different pieces are called, and what equipment you need to start a colony.

Lab: Light’em Up! The most important tool, the Smoker. Hands on with other equipment.

Apiary Startup

Site selection, setting up the apiary, getting bees, bear fencing, and costs. The differences between a package and a NUC as well as the advantages of each will be discussed.


Topics include the Beekeepers equipment, the sting and getting stung, hive equipment, opening and inspecting a colony, and what you might see.


Honey bees can succumb to a number of pathogens, parasites, and pests. The various diseases will be discussed as well as the number one enemy of all beekeepers, the Varroa destructor. Hygienic honey bee behaviors will also be discussed.

LAB: The face of your enemy under the microscope.

Basic Botany

Basic overview of the different plants that bees like to forage on and which ones will produce the best honey crop.

Science of Honey

How honey bees convert nectar into honey and why. The chemistry of honey, crystallization, honey poisoning, packaging, extraction, and labelling will be discussed.

Preparing for Winter

Honey Requirements, feeding, and preparation of the colony for winter.

Beekeeping Organizations

The beekeeping clubs in MN will be discussed along with information about the state and national organizations.