SCOTTSVILLE – Beekeepers of all skill levels gathered Saturday at Allen County Scottsville High School for the annual South Central Kentucky Beekeeping School.
The science wing of the high school was all bees and crafts thanks to a partnership between the Allen County Beekeepers Association, the Allen County Scottsville League of Arts and Crafts, The Laura Dugas Foundation of Allen County and the Kentucky State Beekeepers Association.
Kevin Hale, a 10-year veteran beekeeper, was the keynote speaker.
He shared tips and wisdom of beekeeping documenting the struggles that new beekeepers will face and the triumphs that diligence and attention to detail will bring when it comes to beekeeping.
Hale said that beekeepers, especially new ones, will make a lot of mistakes.
“I talked to one man when I first started beekeeping and he said I needed to do something else,” Hale said.
“Sometimes we overcomplicate beekeeping,” he said. “There is too much knowledge to absorb, we think we have to know every aspect of beekeeping and some try to learn advanced techniques before mastering the basics.”
Hale said monitoring the hives is a must.
“Know what is going on in your hives,” he said. “Check every 10 to 14 days and keep records of what you see.”
Hale also talked about Varroa mites, which he said are the biggest problem bees and beekeepers face.
The Varroa mite attaches to a bee like a tick does to other animals.
“We know how to control it,” Hale said, adding that testing the hive is critical and that the highest mite levels occur between June and September.
After Hale spoke, the breakout classes began with subjects ranging from fundamental classes such as beekeeping equipment and first-year beekeeping to extracting honey and aspects of pollination.
The school also featured vendors and other beekeeping resources including NewBee University founder Matthew Doucette.
“I have a background as a schoolteacher and when I left the classroom I still had the desire to teach and when I got into beekeeping it was a perfect fit so now I teach beekeeping and I started NewBee University and it is an online course,” he said. “When people register, I send them resources by mail. We launched that this past year and we have students in Canada, Australia and the United States. When the students complete it, we send them their certificate.”
The university launched last year in the fall, which Doucette said is the perfect time to prepare for the upcoming warmer time of the year.
Doucette was a beekeeper for five years before he launched NewBee University, adding that he developed an interest and then the interest escalated from there.
“I meet people that are starting out and I tell them welcome to the addiction,” Doucette said. “My first year I jumped in with three hives.”
Doucette said the feeling of being overwhelmed is something that NewBee University tackles.
“It gives people the foundation they need to get started without overwhelming them,” he said.
Allen County Beekeeper Association Treasurer Harris Overholt said he was pleased with how the school went.
“It seems to be going great today. I’m hearing good things from Kevin Hale, who is a hands-on beekeeper. There is a lot of positive feedback that has already come out about our breakout classes. Our vendor area has had excellent variety,” he said, adding the attendees ranged in all expertise levels. “We have had people who don’t even have bees come in today to learn and then others who have come just for updated information.”