Practical Beekeeping

STOCKSCH 166 

September 3 – December 11, 2019

REGISTER HERE

3 Credits

Instructor: Scott Debnam         Email: sdebnam@umass.edu

Honey bees 1

Description: This course will focus on knowledge pertaining to honeybee hive anatomy & social structure, and the management strategies necessary to perform basic beekeeping. The course examines the honeybees role in agriculture and the ecosystem. The course encourages interest in and application of best management practices for successful small scale beekeeping.  The course supports development and use of acquired knowledge and skills for creative & sustainable agricultural pursuits.

Course Overview and Student Objectives:

Beekeeping can be a rewarding and even lucrative hobby if one understands the honey bee and how to manage the colony structure. This course has been designed to provide both an understanding of the honey bee and how they function as a colony.  Using this knowledge the course then applies that understanding into the practice of beekeeping using proven evidence-based practices that equip beekeepers to manage their hives for honey bee health, honey production, and pollination services.

Course Structure:

Bees on Comb

The course is divided into 3 sections, The Bee, The Colony, and The Practice of Keeping Bees. The sections are further divided into weekly topics.  Each week a new topic will open with assigned readings, videos demonstrations and video lectures.  See the syllabus for a detailed outline of the weekly topics.  At the end of each week, there will be either a short quiz or a writing assignment.  Weekly quizzes will open on Fridays and close on Sundays.  On the weeks that have assignments, they will be due on Sundays.  At the end of each of the three sections, there will be a comprehensive exam coving all the information from the section.  Each week will have a graded forum in which discussion postings are required from each student.  The majority of the forum grade comes simply from participation. The forums are intended to answer your specific questions about the week’s topic.  Forum grades are weighted as follows:

  1. The most points will be awarded from asking questions about the weeks topic
  2. All comments will benefit from tying in relevant comments from trusted beekeeping sources.  You are not required to have any trusted beekeeping sources, for many of you we are that, but if you have them go ahead and share them with the class
  3. Followed then by pertinent personal experiences that address a question posted in the forum
  4. Posting of external links (your own photos, good videos, etc) that are relevant to a question posted in the forums

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Grading:

Forum Participation: 50%

Weekly Quizzes and Assignments: 20%

Comprehensive exams: 30%

 

Required Textbooks:

Honey bee Ecology: A Study of Adaption in Social Life Seeley, T.D., 2014. Honeybee ecology: a study of adaptation in social life. Princeton University Press.

Storey’s Guide to Keeping Honey bees Sanford, M.T. and Bonney, R.E., 2018. Storey’s Guide to Keeping Honey Bees: Honey Production, Pollination, Health. Storey Publishing.

Both are available through Amazon at reasonable prices. The second edition is preferred for Storey’s Guide to Keeping Honey bees but is not required.  Any edition of Honey bee Ecology will suffice (I believe there is only one).

Outline of Content:

Section 1: The Honey bee

Week One

What is a bee?

  • The castes and genders
  • Developmental Stages
  • Developmental timing
  • Worker responsibilities

Short quiz

Week Two

          Internal anatomy

  • Circulatory system
  • Respiratory system
  • Digestive system

Short quiz                                                     

Week Three

External anatomy (Morphology used to acquire resources)

  • Tools used for pollen and propolis gathering: Pollen baskets, brushes, antennae cleaner
  • Tools used for nectar and water gathering: Proboscis and ingluvies

Short quiz

Week Four

Comprehensive exam coving the information from Section 1: The Bee

  • No new material
  • Study guild provided
  • Review forum available

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Section 2: The Colony

Week Five

The arrangement of the colony

  • Where the bees put their young and how they care for them
  • Where the bees put their resources
  • How honey is made
  • The arrangement of an individual brood frame

Short quiz

Week Six

Colony Dynamics (or the honey bees’ year)

  • An in-depth study of the colonies winter and springlife cycle

Short quiz

Week Seven

Colony Dynamics (or the honey bees’ year) continued

  • An in-depth study of the colonies summer and fall life cycle

Short quiz

Week Eight

          Honey bee Nutrition

  • Water
  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates
  • Queen and brood nutrition

Nutrition essay (no quiz)

Week Nine

Comprehensive exam coving the information from Section 2: The Colony

  • No new material
  • Study guild provided
  • Review forum available   

Section 3: The Practice of Keeping Bees

Week Ten

Tools and equipment

  • Hive tools: the types and how to use them
  • The smoker: How to light them, how to use them properly, and why they work
  • The suit: types and how to wear them
  • Hive parts and frames: hive bodies, bottom boards, covers, and frames

Writing assignment: Generate a list from a beekeeping catalog of all the tools and equipment you will need to manage a single two-story colony.  (No quiz this week)

Week Eleven

Beekeeping dynamics (or the beekeepers’ year)

  • An in-depth study of the beekeeper’s responsibilities as they correspond to the winter and spring life cycle of the colony
  • This section will include varroa and tracheal mite monitoring protocols and treatment options

Short quiz

Week Twelve

Beekeeping dynamics (or the beekeepers’ year) continued

  • An in-depth study of the beekeeper’s responsibilities as they correspond to the summer and fall life cycle of the colony
  • This section will include nosema and brood diseases monitoring protocols and treatment options as well as a look at some colony predators and how to effectively deal with them

Short quiz

Week Thirteen

          Apiary increases

  • Splits: how to make them and when to do them
  • Swarm ecology: how to capture and bait swarms so that we can increase the apiary

Short quiz

Week Fourteen

Comprehensive exam coving the information from Section 3: The Practice of keeping bees

  • No new material
  • Study guild provided
  • Review forum available

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This class fulfills requirements for all three of the online programs offered by the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School of Agriculture in Sustainable Food and Farming:

All online classes cost $482/credit.

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2 thoughts on “Practical Beekeeping”

  1. Hello, would it be possible to audit this course for no credit? Interested in the course- not able to enroll at the moment. UMass Alum.

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