by Michelle Berry.

Want to take the sting out of a long winter?

As the cool weather sets in, take advantage of indoor time and learn a new hobby. If you’ve ever considered bee’ing a beekeeper, or just want a better understanding of these amazing pollinators, join one of the local Bee Schools gathering this winter. Each year swarms of people attend Bee School. Attendees may be complete “new-bees”, others are seasoned beekeepers who want to refresh their skills, and then there is everyone else in bee’tween. This creates a mix of students who freely share their stories, know-how, successes, and failures in the buzzing hive that is the Bee School experience.

Ready to take flight? Okay, let’s take a look at local options:

Plymouth County Beekeepers Association

(PCBA) offers an 8-session course from January to April which meets every other Thursday from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Classes are held at the Pembroke Community Center, session topics include: Anatomy of the Honey Bee, Woodenware, Diseases & Pests, and Local Pollen & Nectar Sources. The $50 enrollment fee includes a textbook, course materials, and a 1-year membership to the PCBA Club. Mentors are also available to assist you throughout your apiary adventure. Tuition covers ALL family members in the same household!

Bristol County Beekeepers Association

(BCBA) Beginner’s Beekeeping Course runs from February through March and meets every Tuesday from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Classes are held at the Bristol County Agricultural High School Library in Dighton, and topics covered include: Biology of the Honeybee, How to Acquire Your First Bees, Buying or Building a Beehive, Diseases, and Bottling Honey. Students have the option to pair up with a “Bee Buddy”, a BCBA veteran beekeeper who will continue to help after school has ended. The enrollment fee of $50 includes a textbook and 1-year membership to BCBA for all family members.

Northeast Organic Farming Association, MA

(NOFA) The Massachusetts NOFA chapter was established in 1982 and welcomes “anyone who eats, anyone who grows food, and anyone who tends the landscape or lives the activist lifestyle” to join them through educational workshops and/or advocacy efforts that promote organic agriculture. Their Annual Winter Conference is held in January and often offers Beekeeping Intensive Pt. 1: Overwintering Bees & Spring Management (all levels) and Pt. 2: Working with Honey Bee Queens (all levels).

These Associations are passionate about bees and beekeeping. They work yearlong to promote the well-bee’ing of our local bee population, mentor fellow beekeepers, and educate our community. Beekeeping has a positive environmental impact, and is a hobby you can enjoy with family, friends, and dare I say, neighbors—just be sure to bring them a jar of honey.

Michelle Berry and her family are local bee school grads, and are now the proud hosts of eight hives in Pembroke.