Last Christmas, my rocks were thoroughly rocked by the gift of a full hive kit and assorted tools from my sister, Jennifer. I had always planned to get into beekeeping, but it was always something 2-3 years out, after some other homestead projects. This really accelerated things! So Saturday, I attended the Metro Atlanta Beekeeper Association’s “Short Course” to try to get up to speed.
This course is a very information packed introduction to the fundamental practice, equipment, culture and local community of beekeepers. While there are several hand’s on opportunities (smokers, hive assembly/frames, protective gear, etc) it is not a vocational training course. And that is not a bad thing. There were several “bee curious” folks in the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s lecture hall, and the course was an excellent wake up call about the level of effort necessary and whether or not beekeeping is suitable for a person.
What you will get is a panel of local and international bee experts providing a range of information and instruction from practical to research-level material. The speakers were knowledgeable, responsive to questions and made the material very accessible. In particular, I respected their approaching the topic from a realistic, grounded point of view. These are obviously people that are engaged and passionate about beekeeping, but have no time for anecdotal, superstitious or “foo” approach to beekeeping.
They have also tailored the information for this specific region (Metro Atlanta and Northern Georgia), so I got a lot fine-details that are hard to find in generic beekeeping books and videos. We were even able to identify what type of nectar some local honey I had purchased elsewhere probably (predominantly) came from!
From a value prospect, the course is $95 and I felt I got every penny’s worth and more in information, community, literature, samples, gifts, books, magazines, gear/gift drawing, refreshments and lunch.
Bonus! Because it is winter, attendees of the January course get a followup session at an on-site Hive Inspection once bees are more active. At the hive inspection session, we’ll be opening a live hive, examining structures, learning how to ascertain health & progress of the colony, identify queens, drones, workers, etc. Really looking forward to that part!
The course also provided me with a firmer timeline on how to get my own colony up and running this year (it might be tight, but going to try!) and set realistic expectations for first-year beekeepers.
I strongly recommend this course and group if you are the area. Preferably before you commit to gear and bees.