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Buzz on over to Plum Creek for this year’s ‘Bee a Beekeeper!’ course


If you want to learn how to become a beekeeper – don’t just wing it; sign up for the Forest Preserve’s six-week “Bee a Beekeeper!: Introduction to Beekeeping” course at Plum Creek Nature Center.

This is the second year the District is offering a six-week course to help would-be honeybee managers learn all of the ins and outs of beekeeping, including the history of honeybees, their anatomy, hive components, possible problems, honey production and hive setup.

Beekeeping can be a fun hobby, but it also is important to the environment. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “In the United States, more than one-third of all crop production – 90 crops ranging from nuts to berries to flowering vegetables – requires insect pollination.”

But bee numbers have been waning for decades.

“The number of honey bee hives in this country has decreased from 6 million in the 1940s to about 2.5 million today,” the USDA report stated.

That’s why it is important to have more beekeepers nationwide so there are more bees.

"The more bees pollinate, the more seeds you get and the more plants that come back next year," said Mike Rusnak, a member of the Will County Beekeepers Association who has 12 years of experience with beekeeping. Rusnak will lead the Forest Preserve beekeeping course.

Sessions will be held from 6-8 p.m. Tuesdays, February 20-March 27. Participants will learn all they need to know about becoming successful beekeepers. The workshop fee of $60 per person includes the book “The Backyard Beekeeper” by Kim Flottum, who is a former USDA honeybee researcher and is editor-in-chief for Bee Culture Magazine.


Sessions include these presentations:

  • Week 1 – Familiarization: introduction, history, why keep honeybees, resources, cost
  • Week 2 – The Honeybee (Apis mellifera): anatomy, life cycle, castes, jobs, characteristics
  • Week 3 – Equipment and Stock: hive components, tools, location, suppliers, races
  • Week 4 – Management: inspections, pests, parasites, diseases, feeding, treatments
  • Week 5 – Colony Dynamics: honey production, year in the apiary, winter clustering, temperature regulation
  • Week 6 – Review, examination and course feedback

Weather permitting, an optional off-site field day will be planned to correspond with installation of honeybees in a hive. The program is for ages 18 or older. Register by Friday, February 16, online or by calling 708.946.2216.


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