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Successful Beekeeping for Backyards in the Puget Sound - Classes announced at 21 Acres

Want to keep bees? Have bees...want to learn more. Series begins, February 23. Special rate for families!

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 held at 21 Acres near Woodinville 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 five classes, as part of the 21 Acres School,  are offered on the following Saturdays:

  • February 23, 10:00 am – noon
  • March 23, 10 am – noon
  • June 29, 9:30 am - noon
  • August 17, 10:30 am – noon and 1 pm – 3:30 pm
  • September 14, 10 am – noon .  


This twelve-hour course will teach you everything you need to know to safely start and maintain a beehive and is intended to prepare new or experienced beekeepers with specific beekeeping activities before those activities are attempted with your own hives. It includes hands-on training on a number of important topics related to beekeeping, including assembling hives and opening and examining colonies. From disease and mite prevention and hive management to honey production, this class will cover everything you need to know to further your hobby or get your business off the ground.

Instructors are Gary Gibbons and Clare MacQueen who 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. They maintain three hives on their property and like all beekeepers, learn more about their bees all the time. Both have become Apprentice Level Master Beekeepers and are currently working on the Journeyman Level.

Individual course session descriptions:

  1. Intro to Beekeeping (A) You will become familiar with how to raise bees by learning about the construction of hives and the various hive bodies, safe hive placement, purchasing bee packages, and generally how to get your bees hives started. You’ll also learn some bee biology, too.
  2. Intro to Beekeeping (B) – The second Introduction class builds on getting your hive started and introduces you to feeding bees, general maintenance, troubleshooting in the hive, diseases and treatments, and ordering your first packages of bees.
  3. Hive Inspection – You will learn how to inspect new and established hives, identify healthy and unhealthy hives, and use proactive, management techniques to prevent and treat common ailments for honeybees in the Pacific Northwest. Participants will inspect 21 Acres hives to identify those that are suitable for honey production. Hives will be adjusted accordingly and preventative maintenance conducted to reduce the likelihood of swarming or disease.
  4. Extracting Honey – A combined indoor and outdoor class, you will learn how to remove frames from the hives and then how to extract honey from the comb. The class wraps up with a taste and take-home of the final product—raw, natural honey.
  5. Preparing Your Hives for Winter – In the last class of the series, you will learn how to prepare hives for the winter and the steps to be taken during fall and winter months to provide your colonies with the greatest chance of survival.


Most classes will involve visits to hives for hive inspection; consequently, a veil and jacket or head net is required. The early bird fee, for all five classes in the series, is $99. After February 14, $119. A special discount is offered for families (of up to three people) for $199. Classes may be sold on an individual basis, if space allows, after February 21. Interested students may enroll and register one of three ways: 21acres.org/school; phone: 425-481-1500; or e-mail: deb@21acres.org.

21 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living is a comprehensive campus with a farm, school, commercial kitchen, market and green-built facility located at 13701 NE 171st Street, Woodinville, WA  98072. All the programming and services offered through 21 Acres focus on the areas of Growing, Eating and Living.  Click or call for more information; 21acres.org, 425-481-1500.


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