Bee Spotting with the Bee Smart beekeeping project

While most of the attention goes to those honey producing, easily managed primary crop pollinators the honey bees, there is a growing awareness of the wide diversity of native bees in North America.  Those under appreciated eusocial and solitary bees that are fantastic and often crop specific pollinators such as bumblebees, mason bees, squash bees, headquarters and many, many more.

Now the Bee Smart beekeeping project is setting up a new adventure called “Bee Smart Bee Spotters”.  The goal I’d to teach people how to identify these incredible native bees, know more about their habitat and share the experience of seeing them work their fuzzy, winged magic.

The best part is that becoming a Bee Smart Bee Spotter is no cost to you.  All you need is some time, an adventurous spirit, a phone or other digital camera and a member account on the Bee Smart beekeeping project website forums page.

Then, you’re a bee spotter.  What Bee Spotters do is upload their own pictures of local bees and provide information about the photo of the Bee.  Where was it taken, what kind of Bee is it.  When was it seen, what season, etc…

Even if you don’t know what type of bee it is, you can post it in the “ID The Bee” sub-forum and we can help you figure out what kind of Bee you spotted.

Do you want to know more about how to identify native bees and their habitat?  There will be classes offered at MCC and Lauritzen Gardens to help you do that starting this Summer.

It’s like bird watching, but more exciting!  Bee Spotting is for any one, any age, whether you are a beekeeper or not.

Come on over and sign up on the Bee Smart beekeeping project website Forums page today and help us build the Bee Smart Bee Spotters community.

Summer Beekeeping Classes at MCC

I was recently informed that we actually did make the time cut to get the beekeeping classes in time to be in the Summer quarter print non-credit catalog for MCC.

I would like to thank MCC for putting the support and effort into making beekeeping and the new native bees classes available. I am working hard to make each class worth every minute of participants time and every dollar.

Having said that, if MCC is going to keep offering these types of classes, I need you help getting the word out so we can continue to build awareness and attendance to all the classes.

If there are any specific bee or beekeeping topics that folks would want to discovered, please let me know, if we can get a group to enroll, we can make that class happen.

Thanks to all you awesome bee folks for your continued support.

Bee Smart, Bee Active, Bee Happy

The Bee Smart beekeeping project is about conservation, education and training, and having fun.

Bee Smart is set up to rescue and relocate honey bees and bumblebees from locations where they are at risk of extermination or due to circumstances of location, pose a threat or risk.  The Bees are taken alive as much as possible and relocated eventually to the new teaching apiary that is being hosted at Scatter Joy Acres, which is an acreage that focuses on animal rescue and animal therapy.

Through the Bee Smart beekeeping project I have developed a series of beekeeping classes for people that want to learn about bees and beekeeping or expand their knowledge base if they are already involved in beekeeping.  There is also an upcoming series of Bee Smart classes focused on native bees found in North America and especially in our local area.  These classes are for a gone curious to know more about how to identify and provide habitat for native bees.

Most of these classes are offered through places like Metro Community College and hopefully soon at nature and garden attractions like Lauritzen Gardens.  They can be provided to private and non-profit organizations as well by appointment.

At the developing Bee Joyful Teaching Apiary at Scatter Joy Acres, apprentice beekeepers can get hands-on experience learning skills by doing them.  These folks are called my “Beehooligans” and are often active in apicultural adventures such as assisting with live bee rescues, capturing swarms, maintaining the hives, and harvesting from the hives.

One of the fun aspects is doing the bi-monthly podcast which is like a radio show on the internet.  These are recorded live at the ranch and any Beehooligans attending that particular day are welcome to sit in and chat about all things bees and beekeeping.

By being a “Beehooligan”, people can gain practical experience, work alongside others with the same interest, and build a network or support for themselves and each other.  On top of that, if a person wants to be involved in beekeeping but doesn’t have the space or other things necessary to keep bees on their own, this gives them the opportunity to still be a beekeeper at the teaching apiary.

Get involved with the Bee Smart beekeeping project.  Learn more, do more, enjoy it more.

Why My Bee Smart Classes Are Full of Awesome

I teach a number of beekeeping classes through Metro Community College here in Omaha, NE.  I try to get it so the basic classes start over every quater, that way, if you missed the opportunity to take one during one quarter, you can take it the next quarter.

I teach beekeeping classes to provide in depth information about various topics.  Each class is three hours of presentation of information, discussion and Q&A to gt the most out of each topic area.  Taking classes should be more than having a bunch of information shoved at you.  It should give you the opportunity to make the information relevant specifically to you and your needs.  That’s why I make sure to include plenty of opportunities for participants to ask questions that matter to what they have in mind.

I make sure that every participant gets a printed copy of the class booklet that I wrote to accompany each particular subject.  This way, participants don’t have to worry about taking copious notes of everything and can focus on discussion, Q&A, and making notes of specific info from the discussion and Q&A as it helps them be most effective.

I also make sure that each participant gets a crossword puzzle that created specifically from terms and ideas in the class it was made for.  This helps participants to reinforce the terminology and concepts that were discussed but hopefully in a way that is little more interesting and fun than by rote memorization.  Having even a little more fun helps to remember things than being bored to tears and forgetting most of it.

I want to help new and current beekeepers expand their capacity to be successful.  To  build their knowledge base and to understand just a little better these crazy insects we have fallen in love with.  The better informed we can be about our bees and our craft, the greater potential to be successful and enjoy doing it.  That’s what it’s all about.

Honey Bees Got 99 Problems, Don’t Be Another One

They can actually make problems worse.  I know they mean well, those folks who begin conversations about honey bees requiring proper management care and attention by describing bees as woeful, abused victims of beekeepers.

Everyone has heard the stories about if honey bees, being left alone, would live in cozy trees, mind thrown beeswax and live in perfect harmony with the world.  Then the beekeepers showed up…

Honey bee colonies, entirely of their own volition, will move into just about any place that meets their minimum requirements for environmental and defensive purposes.  Dry, high, and warm.

Honey bee colonies will choose to build their nests in trees, caves, roofs, barns, grain bins, under decks and grills, in the eaves of a house, under the limb of a tree.  I have relocated honey bee nests from all of those places and more.  No beekeeper put them in those places.

Honey bees are incredible, terrifically wondrous creatures.  They can also be incredibly dumb.  Suicidally dumb in fact.

They will build nests in places that are almost certainly unsustainable for them.  It happens more than you’d think.  In fact, beekeepers hives are often a far greater nest site than most of the places we take them out of.

Beekeepers can often be the biggest problem honey bees have to contend with.  We have a tendency to not leave them alone.  We want to “help” them by applying treatments but fail to first understand not only proper application of said treatments but the circumstances, conditions and assessment procedures that should always precede any such treat to ensure they are necessary, required, or appropriate.

Beekeepers frequently fall into one of two common honey harvest problem groups for honey bees.  The first is harvesting too much.  The other being not harvesting enough.  Put bluntly, honey bees are one of handful of creatures that will produce more than they need.  Honey bees will make honey as long as there are nectar sources and space available.  By “space available”  I mean even to the point that they use all the space otherwise needed for the queen to lay eggs.

Honey bees will create a situation called being “honey bound” meaning they cannot grow the colony in space due to lack of hive boxes and lack of drawn comb that hasn’t already been filled with honey.  Colonies have killed themselves off or created an “abandon ship” situation by over producing honey.

Beekeepers that don’t harvest honey accordingly put bee colonies at risk as much as those who harvest too much.

Honey bees create enough actual problems for themselves as well as dealing with slew of environmental, predator and pathogenic problems they have already.  The last thing honey bees need is misinformed, overdramatic, hyperbole to distract beekeepers from becoming best informed, experienced and prepared to properly manage hives.

 

Making a difference for bees in Omaha

The Bee Joyful Teaching Apiary has made its home at the best place it could be at Scatter Joy Acres, a haven of animal rescue.  Joy Bartlett and her volunteers have built a great reputation for helping rescue and relocate farm animals and all kinds of other animals and bring them to a better place.  Now they can add bees to that list.

Bumblebees in the nest

Tony Sandoval of the Bee Smart beekeeping project is set to perform live rescues of bees from homes, buildings, trees and other locations and relocate them to this new home instead of them being exterminated.    The new place is called “Bee Joyful Teaching Apiary” located on-site at Scatter Joy Acres.  It’s threefold mission is to be a refuge for wayward honey bee and bumblebees colonies, to provide informative experiences for the public about bees, and to be a place for beekeepers to learn the craft and get professionally guided hands-on experience in apiculture.

The Beehooligans is a group of people who by joining, become member to a special team of people who learn and practice beekeeping skills while maintaining and supporting the teaching apiary and helping the public better understand and appreciate bees and beekeeping by participating in special activities and events for them and the visitors to Scatter Joy Acres.

You can help by :

  • Coming out to Scatter Joy Acres and visiting the animals and bees.  Your small admission fee helps take care of animals and provide valuable therapeutic services to people.
  • You can make a donation to Scatter Joy Acres to help cover the costs of rescuing and maintaining bees.  The special costs of scaffolding and other means to access bee nests in high and odd places can be substantial.
  • You can spread the word to people not to exterminate bees, but to call to have the bees rescued by our Beehooligans instead and relocated to the teaching apiary.
  • You can support Tony and the Bee Smart beekeeping project by becoming a supporter at the Bee Smart Patreon page.

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Hive Working Happening At Scatter Joy Acres Teaching Apiary Tomorrow

I’ll bee ready to work on rehabbing hive boxes and putting together new boxes tomorrow at 1 pm.

We have donated hive boxes that need to be cleaned up and made usable for the new bee colonies we will go out and rescue this year.

Interns, here’s a great opportunity to come down, ask questions, find out the answers to What, How, Why, When, and even When.  Learn to identify pieces of hive equipment and much more.  $7.50 for the day.

Apprentices, take in a session of getting hands-on experience while you have someone there who won’t let you break anything (or can fix it if you do).  No stress, all fun and improving your skills.  $15.00  for the day.

After we’re done, you can get a special deal on going through the rest of the farm to see what Joy and the gang’s and visit the special critters living there.

Learn about bee hives, beekeeping equipment and support Bee rescue all at the same time.

 

Help Us Rescue Bees This Year

I’ve taken the Bee Smart beekeeping project into an active project role by basing our activities and education at the new teaching apiary at Scatter Joy Acres in the Florence neighborhood of Omaha.

Scatter Joy Acres is already all about animal rescue with dozens of farm animals and even a camel being brought home there.  Why not join forces and make it a home for rescued bees as well?

And so we have.  When you contact me at the Bee Smart beekeeping project here to come and capture swarms that have landed on your property or to do a live removal of bee nests from inside a building or the ground, we’re talking about honey bees and bumblebees here, myself and the Beehooligans will come out and get them at as low a cost as possible to you.  Perhaps at no cost to you at all.

Instead of unnecessarily killing bees that have moved into the wrong place, those bees can be rescued and used to teach people about bees and beekeeping at the teaching apiary.

If you know of bees that need to be rescued this coming year, please call me at 402-370-8018 to schedule a live bee rescue and relocation to the new teaching apiary at Scatter Joy Acres.

What The Beehooligans Are Doing On Feb 17th

As you may or may not know, I am in the process of setting up a teaching apiary at Scatter Joy Acres in the Florence area of Omaha.

Along with my Bee Smart Crew, we will be doing the work of setting up and operating a productive honey and beeswax producing apiary.  This allows includes opportunities for area beekeepers and beekeepers-to-be to have a place to get actual “hands-on” training and experience doing beekeeping things with guidance and supervision of experienced apiarists.

You can come down to Scatter Joy Acres this Saturday February 17th starting at 1pm to be an Intern or Apprentice and get some quality training and practice in.

You decide if you will mostly just watch and learn (an Intern) or if you will get hands-on (an Apprentice).  To participate as an Intern for one session is only $7.50 per intern.  To participate as an Apprentice for one session is only $15.00 per apprentice.

Everyone wins here.  You get valuable experience and instruction for a very reasonable price while Scatter Joy Acres gets an apiary on site to provide educational experiences and raise money.

This month we are building and repairing bee hives.

Afterwards, you can take advantage if already being there and support Scatter Joy Acres by taking a tour of the farm and visiting the animals that have been rescued.  (Only $5.00 which helps them keep things going).

UPDATE ON MCC BEEKEEPING CLASSES 2018!!!

OK beehooligans.
I got the most recently updated class schedule for all of the beekeeping classes being offered through Metro Community College at the new North Express location.
 
The classes are all on Saturdays from 10 am till 1 pm beeginning April 7th, 2018.
 
The classes are NOT listed in the paper or online Spring catalog for MCC due to timing of class listing. You can still register for the classes listed on the Bee Smart website by calling the phone number(s) listed in the class description.
 
Please visit the Bee Classes page and go to April and May on the embedded calendar to get the class information for each class being offered.
 
The Applied Beekeeping class, a hands-on class, will bee the only class NOT at the North Express MCC location. It will take place at the new teaching apiary at Scatter Joy Acres instead.