Bee School Prepares Enthusiasts for Success

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019, 11:34 am
By: 
Sarah Spohn

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Blackburn, COMB.

Bees can be a scary thing for some people, but to members of the Center of Michigan Beekeepers (COMB) they’re familiar friends. On Saturday, Feb. 23, the organization is hosting a one-day course on the basics of beginner beekeeping at MSU Pavilion.

The COMB Bee School Beginner Track class runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and includes instruction for those interested in, and new to beekeeping. COMB Treasurer Jennifer Blackburn has been actively beekeeping for about eight years, and a member of COMB for three years.

“I had terrible allergies and I wanted local honey to help with my allergies,” Blackburn said. “I started beekeeping for that reason, and it’s grown from that into educating other beekeepers and the public about honey bees and how important they are.”

Recently, there has been an increasing amount of information and publicity on the importance of bees, but Blackburn said there are still misconceptions. “Honeybees are only one small part of it, our native bees are also at risk,” she said.

COMB is working to help dispel those misconceptions, as well as usher in a continually growing community of local beekeepers. The organization meets the second Monday of every month at the MSU Pavilion at 6:30 p.m.

“We have a quick beginner’s class at the first part of our meeting,” Blackburn said. “So if you’re a brand new beekeeper, or if this is your first year beekeeping, you can ask questions. We give a rundown of what you should be doing to help your hives. We talk about pest management [because] one of the biggest threats to keeping bees alive is varroa mites. We kind of take the stance that you need to treat for those to help your bees survive. Essentially, we’re just helping beekeepers be successful.”

Current local beekeepers in the East Lansing community include MSU student group, Bailey Bees, housed on the roof of Bailey Hall in the Brody Neighborhood. Blackburn believes East Lansing is a great area for urban beekeeping.

“There’s lots of little neighborhoods that have plenty of space for bees,” Blackburn said. “And with the university available to help support beekeepers, there’s a lot of resources for us to be successful.

The single-day workshop also features equipment identification, construction, and an on-site vendor of woodenware and beekeeping tools. Attendees also receive the book, “BeeCabulary Essentials” with their ticket.

Tickets range from $35 to $55, and can be purchased online. For more information, or to become a member of COMB, email Jennifer Blackburn at jdensteadt@gmail.com

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