• LBA Beginning Beekeepers Course Information

    Loudoun Beekeepers Association offers its Beginning Beekeepers Course every winter. This course is an important outreach program designed to get more people interested in hobby beekeeping. If you have friends who have expressed an interest in beekeeping, please pass along the information below.

    The LBA Basic Beekeeping for Beginners Course is open to adults and children (age 9 and over) who are interested in keeping bees.  The course is held over a seven-week period and covers all aspects of beekeeping, such as the equipment you need to start beekeeping, the development of your colony, and your responsibilities in subsequent years. 

    It is very important that you read the following material so that you are best informed in making the decision to start keeping bees. 

    We have put together the following information to give you a basic idea of the course along with details on what beekeeping entails.  This message is not to discourage you from beekeeping but to provide a realistic view of the commitment required to successfully keep bees. 

     1. Beekeeping requires adult participation.  Beekeeping requires a determination to succeed, some heavy lifting, the occasionally working in less-than-desirable conditions, the probability of somewhat painful stings (especially as you are learning), and year-round management.  We encourage the engaging and educating children. However, teenagers and children are often not successful without adult guidance and perseverance, therefore 1 adult family member must attend the course instruction and be participatory in the beekeeping venture.

     2. Time commitment required. Beekeeping is for folks who have both the time and the desire to devote to the bees.  If you have very little free time now then this venture may not be right for you to commit to at this time.  Starting out, you should plan to spend 1-2 hours per hive, every week during April through October.   November through March requires fewer visits, but those visits are very important to make for evaluation of your colony's health.

     3. Regular care and attention is required.   As evidenced by the news of declining honey bee populations over the last decade, honey bees are under significant pressure from parasites, disease, environmental pollution and chemicals.  Neglect or poor colony management, and a lack of adequate food sources contribute to colony survival as well.  Successful beekeeping today requires much more knowledge and attention to the bees than ever before.  Therefore, you cannot simply put bees in your yard and watch them from a distance, while still expecting them to survive and provide you a bounty of honey.  Bees are livestock that depend on your regular care and support for survival.  Successful beekeepers need a good understanding of the biology of the bees and their parasites, the skills to recognize and manage disease, and a willingness to support the colonies by treatment and feeding when necessary.  Failure to understand and help the bees with these stresses will result in colony death, beekeeper frustration, and loss of your investment.  

    4. Beekeeping and HOA restrictions.  In the State of Virginia, bees kept in hives are classified as livestock.  If you have an HOA or other property restrictions, investigate the regulations before committing to beekeeping.  We do not recommend that beginning beekeepers keep bees on another's property during their first year. In most cases, the beekeeper will not visit and take care of them as often as necessary. This results in poor colony survival rates, expense and frustration.

    5. Beekeeping start-up costs. Beekeeping today involves real expense.  The 2020 class registration fee is $101 and includes the instruction, books, and an electronic copy containing all the lectures, a glossary, and useful formulas to provide support for the bees.  This is, however, only the beginning of your expenses.  Should you choose to keep bees, the woodenware (the hive and associated components) will cost $200-$350 per colony depending on your ability to construct it.  You will also need personal protective equipment and tools, which can run $75 - $200 per person.  You will then have to purchase the bees to start your colony costing approximately $120 - $200 per colony.  Start-up can easily be over $1000 to setup a two-colony bee yard in your the first year, more if you live in an area where you have to protect your colonies from bears.  

    6. Beginning Beekeeping Course time commitment. This course consists of seven (7) weekly class periods which last 2 to 2.5 hours each.  We provide books, handouts and lecture material as an introduction to the new "language" of beekeeping. We will make every effort to give you all the information you need to be successful. It is incumbent on you to attend all the classes, study the material, and ask questions so that we can help you learn the material. We encourage you to clear your calendar so you do not miss any classes. 

    7. Continuing education and mentoring.  Continuing education is very important once you get started.  The course fee includes a one-year membership in both the Loudoun Beekeepers Association (LBA) and the Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA).  LBA offers ongoing monthly continuing education meetings to provide you with the support and tools you need to be successful. Also VSBA offers bi-annual meetings covering a variety of beekeeping topics.  LBA will provide you access to a mentor to help you during your first year of beekeeping. The mentor can answer questions or perhaps work with you in your hives as an introduction to the live colony. For the most part, it will be up to you to manage the interaction with your mentor.

    8. Beginning Beekeeping Course schedule/logistics.  To keep the class size manageable, we are breaking the class into two sessions covering the same material.  One will be held on Friday evenings (7:00-9:00 PM) and the other on Saturday mornings (8:00-10:00 AM). Registrants will need to choose the Friday evening classes or the Saturday morning classes.

    Registration

    Registration for the 2020 class is now open. The following registration link will take you to a third-party site hosted by Jumbula. If you have questions or trouble with the registration site, please email outreach@loudounbee.org.

    Click here to register.

    IMPORTANT: To finalize your registration, payment of the course registration fee is required. Payment options include PayPal, credit card, and personal checks. More information can be found on the registration site.

    2020 Open House

    The Loudoun Beekeepers Association will hold an informal open house before the first beekeeping class. Registrants of the beekeeping course are encouraged to attend to complete registration and pick up class materials. Refreshments and examples of beekeeping equipment will be on display so that you can get an idea of the materials you will need. Club members will be available to answer your questions.

    Date/Time: Saturday, February 1, 2020 from 9a-12p.

    Location:  Patrick Henry College, Nash Auditorium, 10 Patrick Henry Cir., Purcellville, VA, 20132.

    Course Location, Date and Time

    Location: Classes are held at Patrick Henry College, Nash Auditorium, 10 Patrick Henry Circle, Purcellville VA, 20132.

    Date and Time: The course is seven weeks. Each class is offered twice a week to accommodate different schedules. There is a Friday class from 7:00p-9:00p and a Saturday class from 8:00a-10:00a. Students should attend one of the two sessions each week and should attend the same session each week (choose a Friday class or a Saturday class for the duration of the course). 

    Cost

    2020 beekeeping course pricing: $101.

    The cost of the course is per family unit. The course includes the books Beekeeper's Handbook, Beekeeping Basics, and Honey Bee Maladies. Also included is a one year membership in Loudoun Beekeepers Association (LBA) and Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA).

    All beekeeping equipment, supplies and bees must be purchased separately. Equipment options will be discussed in the second class. You will be given an opportunity to purchase bees through the course. 

    Inclement Weather Policy

    When Loudoun County Public School officials cancel (or close early) school on Friday because of weather, classes may be postponed. Final decisions about class postponements will be determined by the instructor and communicated to students via email by 4pm on Friday. 

    Note: Should the Friday class be postponed by the instructor, the Saturday class will be postponed too. This is to keep the classes synchronized.

    Course Schedule

    Week 1  (Feb. 7-8) 

    Introduction to Beekeeping

    Week 2  (Feb. 14-15) 

    Beekeeping Equipment

    Week 3  (Feb. 21-22 

    Dynamics of the Colony

    Week 4  (Feb. 28-29)  

    Diseases, Parasites, Pests, & Predators

                    March 6-7 

    Week 5  (Mar. 13-14)

    No Class

    First Year Beekeeping

    Week 6  (Mar. 20-21)

    Second Year Beekeeping

    Week 7  (Mar. 27-28)

    Floral Sources & Sustainable Beekeeping

    Week 8 - TBD

    Field day (see below)

    Field Day 

    Upon the completion of the course, a combined class field day will be held at a local apiary.  We attempt to schedule this to coincide with the arrival of the package bees, so date, time and location will either be announced in class, or an email will be sent to you, if it is still unknown by week 7. 

    Mentor Field Day 

    To be arranged by the Instructors/Mentors as weather and schedules permit.