One of the best ways to become a successful beekeeper is through hands-on mentoring from experienced beekeepers. Join instructors from the Bee Squad in our teaching apiary for in-person workshops that will take you from spring to fall. Each class will focus on a specific seasonal management skill, with time for participants to try inspection techniques and ask questions about their own colonies.

We encourage beekeepers to sign up for multiple workshops over the season. Please note that participants should come into the apiary with a basic understanding of honey bee biology and hive structure AND their own protective equipment (bee veil or jacket). Depending on class size and topic, participants may be broken into groups based on experience. We welcome beekeepers of all skill levels, including first year beekeepers and those who have taken the Beekeeping in Northern Climates course and want to try hive management before purchasing their own bees!

Gloveless Beekeeping

One of the core tenets of the Bee Squad’s beekeeping philosophy is to enter colonies without wearing gloves. This allows the beekeeper to have the dexterity and sensory feedback to handle frames and bee boxes in a way that minimizes harm and disruption to the bees. For the safety of all students and instructors, we require that all participants do NOT wear gloves in our teaching apiaries. We believe that the ability to manage a hive of honey bees calmly and confidently under a wide range of conditions is one of the most important skills gained from our program. Instructors work with all participants to demonstrate techniques to minimize stings to the beekeeper and disruption to the bees, but we cannot guarantee that participants will not be stung during our classes. Please feel free to contact us (ma-bees@umn.edu) with questions prior to registration or attending class!

Requirements to participate:

  • Participants must be 18 years or older to enter the apiary
  • Bring your own bee veil OR bee jacket OR bee suit to wear in the apiary
  • Willingness to work without gloves in the apiary
  • Have taken the "Beekeeping in Northern Climates" course OR another basic beekeeping course OR have kept bees for at least one year
  • Willingness to follow ongoing COVID-19 protocols and stay home if sick

Mentoring Apiary Workshop Dates, Location(s) and Descriptions

All beekeeping workshops will be held at our Teaching Apiary on the UMN St. Paul campus from 2:00-3:30pm on Sunday afternoons. Meet your beekeeping instructor in the parking lot of the TURF MANAGEMENT office (2096 Roselawn Ave, W, St. Paul, MN 55113). The instructor will lead you to the hives once all members have arrived. There are limited parking spots but free street parking is available.

Please scroll to the bottom for information on two additional workshops held at the UMN Bee Lab ("Bee-Lining with Ben Z" and "Planting to Provide Food and Habitat for Bees").

Online registration closes at 8am the day of each class. If you miss the 8am enrollment deadline and wish to sign up late, you must email ma-bees@umn.edu.

April 23 (RESCHEDULED FROM APRIL 16): Introduction to Beekeeping and Overwintered Hive Inspection
Participants will separate into two groups based on level of experience. Group 1 will learn to light a smoker and do brief hive inspections. Depending on package arrival schedule, we will either hive a package or look through recently hived packages.
Group 2 will inspect overwintered hives and discuss reversals, spring feeding, and spring mite management.

May 7: Checking New Packages and Dividing Overwintered Colonies
Participants will separate into two groups based on level of experience. Group 1 will inspect new packages for signs of a healthy laying queen, comb build-up, and abundant food resources. Group 2 will inspect overwintered hives and prepare them for divides. We will discuss traditional divides and walk-away divides.

May 21: Hive Inspection Overview
Learn to inspect hives of all sizes and identify pollen, nectar, all stages of healthy brood, evidence of the queen, and evaluate overall colony health. We will check the packages and divides from the previous workshops to assess their health and development. Finally, we will discuss reasons and strategies for requeening a hive.

June 11: Managing Growing Colonies for Health, Honey Production and Swarm Prevention
June is a time of fast growth for many honey bee hives in Minnesota. Learn to prevent swarms and set your hive up to catch the nectar flow by doing reversals and adding space. We will monitor hives for Varroa mites and discuss mite management plans.

July 16: Summer Management and Honey Production
Hives are getting big and bringing in honey! Learn to work with heavy boxes full of bees and honey. We will check for hive health and review swarm prevention.

August 13: Mite Management and Pulling Honey Supers
August is a critical time in the season to manage Varroa mites. Practice using the powdered sugar shake to monitor for mites and make a treatment plan. Get tips on removing supers with different methods that minimize robbing and defensive behavior.

September 10: Feeding, Combining, and Treatment to Ensure Healthy Hives
For hives to successfully overwinter, they must have sufficient honey stores, a healthy and sizable population of bees, and be relatively free of mites and disease. We will evaluate hives of different sizes and decide on the appropriate interventions.

October 15: Preparing for Winter
Give your hives their best chance of winter survival with an oxalic acid treatment and proper winter wrapping. We will also discuss options for winter feeding and what to expect from your bees as the hive prepares for winter.

Additional Workshops held at the UMN Bee Lab

These workshops are open to beekeepers and members of the public who are interested in bee biology, habitat, and planting for pollinators. Participants in these workshops will NOT need to wear beekeeping equipment. These workshops will meet at the UMN Bee Laboratory (1634 Gortner Ave., St. Paul, MN 55113).

Bee-Lining with Ben Z
Sunday, July 9 from 9:00am-2pm

Bee Lab researcher Ben Ziegler will lead a workshop on bee-lining, a technique used to find feral hives living in trees. Participants are encouraged to prepare for the workshop by reading "Following the Wild Bees: The Craft and Science of Bee Hunting," by Tom Seeley. Ben will show you how to make your own bee-lining kit and the group will practice bee-lining in a local park. Please come prepared to spend time outside and bring your own lunch and water bottle. This class will include significant physical activity.  Participants will be walking up to 3 miles and spending the majority of the time outside in the sun, including during a noon lunch break.  Participants should carry sufficient water and food and wear sun protection.  If you have questions or concerns, please contact Ben Ziegler (ziegl344@umn.edu) before registration.
Cost: $60

The workshop scheduled for July 16th ("Planting to Provide Food and Habitat for Pollinators") has been canceled

Contact information

Program contact:
Jessica Helgen

Registration help:

Enroll Now - Select a section to enroll in
Section Title
Preparing for Winter
2:00PM to 3:30PM
Oct 15, 2023
Twin Cities (US Central Time)
Turf Management Center, Golf Course
Schedule and Location
Contact Hours
Course Fee(s)
Section Details

Give your hives their best chance of winter survival with an oxalic acid treatment and proper winter wrapping. We will also discuss options for winter feeding and what to expect from your bees as the hive prepares for winter.

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