With all the hullabaloo over the mysterious death of honeybees and the impact on local beekeeping and honey production, Oregon State University (OSU) and our local Central Oregon Beekeeping Association (COBA) are coming to the rescue. Master beekeepers Stephen Harris, and his sidekick, John Connely, both of Bend, are teaching a yearlong course on apprentice beekeeping in Bend,
Harris grew up in Bend, has been raising honeybees for 30-plus years, and has several active and healthy hives around the west side of Bend. That's a lot of years of honey production and about 80 millions bees that have passed through his life. Connely started out as a commercial beekeeper when he was in the sixth grade living in Phoenix, Ariz., selling honey from a roadside stand and has been keeping bees ever since.
For those who have health issues dealing with allergies associated with local plants such as juniper and sagebrush, beekeeping may provide a solution in the honey produced by local bees. Advocates of using local honey for building immunity to allergy-producing plants claim that all it takes is a tablespoon of local honey per day. In about a year, the allergies begin to fade away.
On top of that, if you have apple, pear and/or peach trees in a protected, frost-free area of your yard and place a honeybee hive under or near them, you can expect a wonderful yield of honey and fruit. Honeybees (and other native pollinators) increase the yield of fruit trees.
Making your garden a friendly place for native pollinating insects, and especially bees, is essential to a healthy ecosystem. Harris has a plant guide he will be handing out to those who attend the OSU/COBA course.
Keeping your garden free of pesticides and using non-toxic means of providing a healthyhabitat for the bees is essential to all life. Pesticides are brought back to the hives by the bees, which can adversely affect the health of the hive and get into the honey you are eating. Harris and Connely will show you there are ways to manage your hives to help keep your bees thriving without pesticides. They will show you how to use non-toxic methods such as a powdered sugar bellows duster, menthol crystals, coconut oil, essential oils and garlic and how doing so can help combat Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which is killing bees at an alarming rate.
There are suppliers of bee-keeping equipment in the Eugene and Portland areas that can provide an apprentice beekeeper with everything he or she needs to get started. You can purchase a complete beginner's beekeeping kit for about $275. This, Oh Best Beloved, is YOUR opportunity to start raising bees for fun and healthy honey!
The OSU Oregon Master Beekeeper Program represents a cooperative effort between Oregon State Beekeepers Association and Central Oregon Beekeeper Association to contribute to both the health of honey bee colonies and the integrity of beekeeping throughout the region.
The program is designed to address three levels, the first of which, the certified apprentice beekeeper, is scheduled to begin March 1 and run for one solid year, covering spring, summer, fall and winter.
The primary objectives of the Oregon Master Beekeeper Program are to:
Increase beekeepers' knowledge and understanding of honeybees and beekeeping
Encourage ongoing education of beekeepers at all levels
Increase public awareness of honeybees and beekeeping
Encourage mentorship and outreach
Support best-management practices and consistency in beekeeping practice
Provide opportunities for training and hands-on experience
Provide an objective means for an individual to evaluate his/her own progress and level of expertise
Encourage membership in and support of state and local beekeeper associations
The program seeks to meet these
objectives by providing:
Opportunities for ongoing education, training and hands-on experience
Coordination of instructors and mentors willing to share their knowledge and expertise through classes and with individual beekeepers
Advertising for events planned by program instructors as well as public events that contribute to the practice of beekeeping
A framework for connecting beekeepers and mentors with options for feedback for improving the process
Suggestions for public outreach events in meeting program education and service requirements
Recommendations on resources, including print, internet, video, and local beekeeping groups, for ongoing learning
An objective means for an individual to evaluate his/her own progress and level of expertise