This course provides practical hands-on beekeeping experience following the lives of the Fort York hives through the year. Our approach is rooted in organic principles using hives based on the Warré design. We are guided by evidence based, bee-centred practices, using techniques suitable for the aspiring small scale hobby beekeeper.
We have spots for a maximum of 6 participants in each session.
Please note that this is a tentative schedule. All dates are weather permitting. I will replace dates that are rained out the following day (Sunday) or another Saturday.
The course consists of ten dates chosen to coincide with important moments in a beekeeper's year. While there will always be something new to learn, it's not a requirement to attend every single session (I know there are a lot of them and it's almost inevitable that people will need to miss some sessions). The intention is to offer as many opportunities as possible to gain experience with bees. There will always be quick refreshers as we go, but If at any point you feel you missed a piece of the puzzle, I'm always happy to answer any questions in person or by email.
Group A: 10:30am - 1:00pm
April 27th. May 11th, 25th. June 1st, 22nd. July 6th, 27th. August 17th. September 7th. November 16th.
Each year is a little different, and bees are always full of surprises. During each session we will respond to the unique stories unfolding in individual hives, as well as cover fundamental concepts.
The following provides a rough guide of some of the broader themes we expect to cover at each date:
We will look at some of the tools and equipment used in beekeeping, different types of hives, selecting an apiary location, basic bee biology, safety around bees, and techniques for inspecting a hive.
The first look inside the hive. How do the bees like to organize their nest? What to look for in judging the strength of a colony coming out of winter? Can we identify any pest or disease issues?
May is a time of quick growth. We will continue building our comfort with the mechanics of working within a hive, identifying the key signs that help us understand what is happening with a colony, and looking for any ways we can assist as they build up their strength.
It's time to take a closer look at the reproduction cycle. Can we anticipate their intentions to swarm? Are colonies raising new queens? What is the beekeeper's role in this process?
What patterns in honey production can we expect in our region? When and how to remove honey from the hive? How does bee behaviour change as we head into summer?
How to check if our new queens have mated successfully? What can we do if something went wrong?
Time to get into all the details about honey as a human food product while we get sticky extracting it from the combs.
We will note the behaviour changes and look for any concerns that may need to be addressed as we approach the end of the season.
Are the hives well stocked? Should we consider combining colonies? What's the best arrangement of combs within the hive? Do we need to worry about robbing behaviour?
We will discuss bee behaviour in the cold months and cover all the final preparation that can help a hive make it to spring.
It's also important to note that the terrain around and leading into the apiary is fairly wild, with inclines, tall plant growth, and dirt paths. You should be comfortable moving around in this kind of natural landscape.
The fee for participation is $423.75 ($375 + $48.75 HST). You may register by sending an e-transfer to my email below. Alternatively, we accept payments through PayPal or credit card via the link below ($12.67 proccessing fee may apply). We will provide all the beekeeping equipment necessary to work with the bees, and there will be veiled hats available for you to use during the program. We suggest wearing loose fitting, light coloured clothing, that you don't mind getting sticky at each session.
Please contact me if you have any questions.
Shawn Caza has been passionately exploring the bee world since 2009, first as a member of the Toronto Beekeepers Collective, then as co-founder of Toronto Honeys. His focus has been developing sustainable alternatives to the industrial beekeeping paradigm. He occasionally blogs and makes videos about bees under beekeeping.isgood.ca.