Bee School Speakers & Class Descriptions

We have made an attempt to help guide the attendees of the bee school in making the decision on what class to attend by grouping the classes according to the audience type for each class.  But use this as a ‘general guide’ – you (of course) are free to attend any class that piques your interest.

Beginning Beekeeping Track - These classes are designed to help you make the best choices for GETTING STARTED.  A “prospective beekeeper” should probably plan on attending ALL of these classes.

Advanced Beekeeping Track – These classes are targeted at the beekeeper who has a bit of experience under their belt.  Both prospective and experienced beekeepers will also find significant value in the information presented in these classes.

Laws affecting beekeeping and beekeepers – These courses discuss the various legal aspects surrounding beekeeping.  As such, the information applies to everyone.

Business Aspects of Beekeeping - These courses deal with the “money” side of beekeeping.  They are designed for the beekeeper who is thinking about “taking the next step” into becoming a sideliner or even a commercial beekeeper.

General Interest Beekeeping – Classes with no color code are those that will appeal to beekeepers of all experience levels

8:00am - 9:00am classes
Beekeeping 101: Honey Bee Basics (Worship Center, Chris Barnes– The foundational information that new and beginning beekeepers need to know such as the differences between the types of bees in our area, identifying the types of bees inside a hive & the roles/functions they provide, & some basic bee biology.

Beekeeper Year (Rm 241, Ashley Ralph– What kinds of things does a new beekeeper need to do AFTER they get their bees?  When do you harvest honey?  When do you add or remove space?  What time of year does a beekeeper do different tasks?  What kind of problems do hives have during different times of the year (and what are those solutions)?

Varroa Mite Testing Methods (Rm 231, Taylor Powell - TAIS) – One of the basic keys to dealing with Varroa Mites is to first know the infestation level inside each hive.  There are several methods for testing this – this class explores the various methods

Top Bar Hive Demo (Fellowship Hall, Nathalie B.– A hands-on demonstration of Top Bars, including how to assemble them.

Wildflower Planting Guide (Rm 136A, George Cates/Native American Seed) – A discussion of the types of seeds & seed mixtures for planting wildflower areas, including methods for successful seed germination.

Raising Queens for yourself (Rm 136B, Steve Brackmann) – Re-queening hives is a common task that many beekeepers use to maintain the health of their hive.  But if you have more than a couple of hives, this can get a somewhat expensive.  This class will show you how to raise your own queens.

Bottling & Selling Honey Laws  (Rm 137, Lynne Jones– In July 2020, there were significant changes to the rules for Texas beekeepers selling honey. Learn the new rules for Beekeeper Honey Producer, as well as the rules for Cottage Food Operator and Licensed Food Manufacturer. Bottled honey also has requirements of what must appear on the label. This class will help you understand what you need to do in order to bottle & sell the honey you get from your hives.

Bee Business Options (Rm 236, Justin Russell) – First steps to understanding what options are available to recouping some of the investment you have made into your bees.  It’s not just about selling honey ya’ know.


9:15am - 10:15am classes
Beekeeping 102: Hive Types - Which is right for you? (Worship Center, Chris Barnes– Selecting what type of hive to use is an expensive choice, but one that must be made at the beginning of starting a journey into beekeeping.  This is an unbiased look at the pros & cons of the different types of hives with a focus on helping you pick the one that is right for YOUR goals & objectives.

Chemical Free Beekeeping(Rm 241, Nathalie B.)– A discussion of the hows & whys of keeping bees without the use of chemical treatments.

Fights About Mites (Rm 231, Ryan Giesecke) – Varroa Mites are undoubtedly the #1 honey bee health issue.  This class lays the foundation for understanding these pests, their epidemiology, investigates the many possible causes for their infestation.

Wax Rendering (Fellowship Hall, Dalene Barnes) – A discussion & hands-on demonstration of how to get bees wax from honey comb and into bars that can be sold or used to make bees wax products.

Honeybee Plants for Texas Landscapes (RM136A, Skip Richter) – This program uses bee biology and foraging habits as the foundation for choosing plants for landscapes.  Learn which plants you can use to create desirable landscapes that also provide healthy forage for honey bees.

What Beekeepers Should Understand about Bee Removals (RM 136B, Rex Smith) – This class will detail not only the techniques & tools frequently used in performing a “cut out” removal, but also the dangers, laws, & liability that are often associated with removing bees from buildings.

Truth in Honey Markets / Marketing Your Honey  (Rm 137, Chris Moore) – A discussion of how imported and adulterated honey finds its way into Texas markets as well as strategies for marketing your honey as Real Texas Honey.

Living & Working with Hot Bees (Rm236, Tony Andric) – When Africanized bees were first brought to south America, it was because they had some traits that were desirable. This program looks at those useful properties that "hot bees" possess as well as how to live and work with them, safely.

Social Immunity in Honey Bees (Rm236, Jordan Twombly Ellis) - Honey bees' unique eusocial structure allows them to have colony level pathogen defense mechanisms. Some of these mechanisms include propolis, grooming, and social fever. This class will cover different social immune techniques found in honey bees and will help beekeepers understand how these intriguing immune responses can be put to use in their own apiaries.


10:30am - 11:30am classes
Beekeeping 103: Feeding & Nutrition (Worship Center, Chris Moore) – Feeding bees is a sometimes overlooked and misunderstood part of keeping healthy colonies. This class discusses  HOW to feed honey bee colonies, WHAT to feed them, and WHEN to feed them (and when not feed them).

Top Bar Hives (Rm 241, Nathalie B.) – This class will delve into the aspects of beekeeping that are unique to Top Bar Hives.

Getting an Ag Valuation on your Property Taxes using honey bees (Rm 231, Dennis Herbert) –  In 2012, the state of Texas changed the laws to allow Beekeeping to qualify as an agricultural activity which can qualify for an "Ag Valuation" (frequently called an “Ag exemption”) for your property taxes.  This class details exactly what this law requires, presented by the man who helped write the law.    This is a 75-minute long class that will slightly cut into the lunch hour.

Growing Fruit Trees for Beekeeping (Rm 136A, Tim Miller) – Growing fruit trees has a symbiotic relationship with keeping bees, one that many beekeepers want to utilize. This class discusses the best fruit trees for our, and how to be successful in growing and planting them.

Catching & Keeping Swarms (Rm 136B, Brandon Fehrenkamp) – This class talks about what you need to not only find & catch swarms, but how to KEEP them in your hive once you have them.

Legal Issues Beekeepers May Face  (Rm 137, Todd Marquardt– Topics will include:

  • Leasing bees for agricultural valuation of land
  • Food regulation
  • Regulation of apiary (bee livestock)
  • Pest control
  • wrongful death lawsuits and allergies
  • How to transfer title if you have a business entity or trust
  • Backyard beekeepers
  • The not so fun income tax aspect when IRS classifies your business as a hobby

Getting bees out of a tree w/o cutting: Forced Abscond (Rm 236, Stan Gore) – A Forced Abscond is a specific method used to get bees out of structures where preforming a “cut-out” is not possible (such as a tree you cannot cut down, brick columns, & decorative art sculptures).  These usually require only very basic tools and patience, making this method available to a wider range of beekeepers.

Honey Bee Associated Viruses (Rm236, Dr. Tonya Shepherd) - This course will go over the most common honey bee viruses and their biology in relation to the honey bee host. Although there aren't any direct treatments for viral infection in honey bees, we will cover how to help prevent and deal with these viruses though available means such as nutrition, queen breeding, varroa treatments and discuss current research in prevention and treatment


12:30pm - 1:30pm classes
Beekeeping 104: Pest & Disease Control (Worship Center, Chris Moore) – This is a BASIC introduction into the most common types of pests & diseases a new beekeeper might encounter, as well as steps to take to help prevent problems and treatment options when problems arise.

Beekeeping 106: Queen Management (Rm 241, Ashley Ralph) – When is the best time to requeen a colony? What is requeening a colony anyway? Do you know how to requeen a colony if you can't find the original queen?  Queen management is an essential part of all beekeeping operations, even for beginning beekeepers.

Small Hive Beekeeping (Rm 231, Stan Gore– Many people do not want, or cannot have, beehives that reach their maximum sizes.  This class explores the ways you can keep bees in relatively small colonies while still maintaining their health and being productive.

Slovenian Beekeeping / AZ Hives (Fellowship Hall, Scott McKane– A hands-on demonstration of the "Slovenian Hive", aka "AZ Hive".  Includes a discussion of unique features and pros & cons.

Organic Gardening for Beekeepers (Rm 136A, Tim Miller– We all know that bees & gardens go hand-in-hand, but balancing the need for having a productive garden (using fertilizers & pesticides) are usually not compatible with maintaining healthy bees.  This class talks about how to achieve the balance between the 2 objectives.

Leasing hives for Ag Valuations Roundtable (Rm 136B, Justin Russell, Steve Brackmann, Rex Smith, & Dennis Herbert) – A discussion and Q&A with experts who utilize a business model of leasing hives to landowners who desire an Ag Valuation on their property, but who do not want to become beekeepers themselves.

Basic Swarm Prevention (Rm 137, Brandon Fehrenkamp) – Bees have a natural instinct to swarm every spring, but this is not always conducive to the goals we as beekeepers may have. No beekeeper should fear swarming! This class investigates ways to work with your bees' natural instincts rather than fighting against them.

Records, Finances, & Taxes for the Hobbyist beekeeper (Rm 236, Dalene Barnes– There are several areas of record keeping that are useful for a beekeeper to maintain (even for a hobbyist with just a couple of hives).  This class will discuss the kinds of records you may find useful for hive inspections, income tax records, & how to purchase beekeeping supplies free of the state sales tax.

The Biology of Mating in Honey Bees (Rm236, Dr. Juliana Rangel) - In this lecture we will cover basic concepts on the biology of queens and drones, and the biology of mating, including some information about drone congregation areas, queen reproductive quality, and problems associate with poor queen mating. Understanding the basic biology of mating will inform all beekeepers about what they can expect to happen in their hives (or in feral colonies) during the swarming season, which in this part of Texas will begin to occur as early as February.


1:45pm - 2:45pm classes
Beekeeping 105: Apiary Setup (Worship Center, Chris Barnes) – This class is designed to help you choose the best location on your property for your hives. This includes considerations for keeping bees in urban vs rural areas, pets & other animals, theft considerations, and hive stands.

Splitting Hives (Rm 241, Rex Smith– There are dozens of ways to split a hive; most of them have specific uses for WHY you are wanting or needing to split a hive:  Increasing the number of hives, preventing swarming, calming down an aggressive hive are just some of those reasons.  This class will look at the reasons you might want to split your hives and different methods for accomplishing your goals.

IPM: Integrated Pest Management (Rm 231, Taylor Powell - TAIS) – Do you know what IPM stands for? Do pesticides have any place in IPM strategies? Can you use IPM techniques to control any honey bee pest, or just varroa? If you answered "no" to any of these questions, then come to this course to correct common misconceptions and learn more!

Long Langstroth Hives (Fellowship Hall, Robert Peebles– A hands-on demonstration of "Long Langstroth Hives".  Includes a discussion of unique features and pros & cons, how to build them.

Bees Native to Texas (Rm 136A, Ryan Giesecke) – Long before the Honey Bee was brought here, there were approximately 4,000 bee species native to North America - and more than 800 have been identified in Texas. This class will identify some of these, their place in our environment, and in some cases, how to maintain colonies of these other bees.

Transferring Colonies from Swarms to Hives(Rm 136B, Ed Veiseh) Once you catch a swarm or get bees out of a water meter, you have to get them to accept their new home.  This class goes through the tricks-of-the-trade in getting bees to stay rather than abscond.

Medical Beekeeping: Apitherapy (pt 1) (Rm 137, Ferhat Ozturk) This class talks about the medical aspects of beekeeping – everything from the treatment of stings & anaphylactic shock, the uses of honey & propolis, to using bee venom as a treatment for arthritis.

Maximizing Honey Production (Rm, 236, Steve Brackmann) – Tips and techniques you can utilize in order to increase the honey production from your hives.  Specifically targeted toward hobbyist and sideliners.


3:00pm - 4:00pm classes
Beekeeping 107: Effective Hive Inspections (Worship Center, Scott McKane) – New beekeepers are told that they need to "inspect their hives", but rarely instructed on what that actually means or what you should be looking for in an inspection.  This class is meant to help you "put it all together" so you can identify the things that should be in your hive, what should NOT be in there, and accomplish it in a manner that is least bothersome to your bees.

Equipment needs ("what would I order if I was starting over?") (Rm 241, Chris Barnes) – Other than the hives & bees, there is a ton of equipment & tools a beekeeper could spend a lot of money on.  This is a discussion of the things I would, and would not, buy if I was starting over from scratch again.

Ask the Expert Roundtable (Rm 231, Justin Russell, Steve Brackmann, Rex Smith, Chris Moore, Blake Shook) – This is a  "who's who" of expert & veteran beekeepers in Texas who have seen and done pretty much everything there is with beekeeping in our area.  We will have a box at the registration desk for you to "pre-ask" questions that we can present to this panel for your answers. And if there is time, we'll take questions from the audience.

Extracting & Bottling Honey (Fellowship Hall, Lynne Jones & Danessa Yaschuk) – This class is a demonstration with lots of practical info.  We will talk about how to get honey supers from the hive and demonstrate how to uncap and spin out the honey.

Hive Security (Rm 136A, Kyle Patterson– It can be hard to imagine, but there are people who will steal or vandalize your beehives.  This class gives you several no-nonsense measures you can do to protect the investment you have made in your bees and hive equipment.

Troubleshooting a Failing Hive (Rm 136B, Ashley Ralph) – Texas beekeepers lose 40% of their colonies, on average, each year. This class will help you look at those reasons, and help to identify what is going on, and if possible, how to correct the problem.

Medical Beekeeping: Apitherapy (pt 2) (Rm 137, Ferhat Ozturk) This class talks about the medical aspects of beekeeping – everything from the treatment of stings & anaphylactic shock, the uses of honey & propolis, to using bee venom as a treatment for arthritis.

Selling Bees & Nucs (Rm 236, Steve Brackmann) – What is required in order to sell Nucs or Queens to other beekeepers?  What are the TAIS requirements you need to follow?  When and How do you actually go about making nucs and queens so they can be available for sale?

Dealing with "Spicy" Hives (Rm 234, Ed Veiseh) – It isn’t uncommon for even managed hives to become more defensive than a beekeeper desires.  This class will discuss the ways to prevent such occurrences, and then focus on how to make changes so the bees return to their gentle, sweet dispositions.