Successful beekeeping for backyards in Puget Sound

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Bee keepers
Instructors Gary Gibbons and Clare MacQueen, officers with the Northwest District Beekeepers Association prepare to install bees earlier this spring at 21 Acres.
The Sammamish Valley blooming season inspires an explosion of honey-bee activity and, with it, the activity of their beekeepers.  If you’re new to beekeeping and thinking about getting your own hive, this series will help you learn how to manage a hive before you actually own bees.  Or, if you already own colonies of honey bees, these courses can serve as a useful review.

The series of three classes, as part of the 21 Acres School,  are offered Saturdays, June 2, August 4 and September 15.  Instructors Gary Gibbons and Clare MacQueen, are officers and members of the Northwest District Beekeeping Association (NWDBA), and possess a wealth of knowledge and skills they are glad to share to help you get started.

• Managing Your Hives Through the Summer to Promote Honey Production, Saturday, June 2, 10 a.m. to noon. Weather permitting, this is an outdoor, hands-on class which begins with a short lecture about what a hive inspection is, why regular inspections are important (including basic information about IPM, or integrated pest management), and things to look for. Students will have an opportunity to inspect hives, which means that protective gear (a minimum of hat, veil, and gloves) is required before entering the 21 Acres apiary. Honey bees are defensive, rather than offensive; but bee stings can happen, and we want to maintain the safety of our students and our bees.  During inspections, hives will be adjusted accordingly and preventive maintenance conducted to reduce likelihood of disease or swarms in the future. Fee is $25.

• Harvesting Honey, Saturday, August 4, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. In this combined outdoor and indoor class, students will learn how to harvest honey combs from the hives and then to extract honey from pre-harvested combs. The class wraps up with a taste of the final product — raw, natural honey. Fee is $35.

• Preparing the Hive for Winter, Saturday, September 15, 10 a.m. to noon. In the last class of the series, participants will learn how to prepare hives for the winter and the steps they should take during fall and winter months to provide their colonies with the greatest chance for survival. Fee is $25

For more information or to register and pay-on line, visit Registration is available for each class individually or at a discount of $65 when taking all three. Early registration is encouraged, class size is limited.

The 21 Acres apiary fulfills two important goals: 1. Provides local groups and residents with the opportunity to witness honey bees in action at their hives and to learn about the roles they play in the local environment.  The first year 21 Acres provided this resource was 2008, and several groups had the opportunity to “meet the bees” and previous beekeeper, Grant Carr.

2.  Supports sustainable beekeeping through the reduction of chemical treatments in an attempt to select for bees with increased levels of resistance to diseases and pests, such as the varroa mite. It is the hope that over time, the 21 Acres honey-bee population and the surrounding environment will become hardier and healthier because of this commitment.

Located in the new green-built Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living at 13701 NE 171st Street, Woodinville, WA  98072, the 21 Acres School offers both multi-day and one-day courses and classes aligned under our focus areas: Growing, Eating, Living. Faculty possess diverse backgrounds related to sustainability and have excellent reputations of helping people learn how to cultivate, demonstrate and advance systems that support sustainable agriculture.

Log on to for more information or visit 21 Acres on Facebook and Twitter @21acres.

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