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

"Be The Best Beekeeper You Can Be" (Worship Center, Randy McCaffrey, aka "628DirtRooster"– A down-to-earth look at honey bees and the people who try to manage them. The goal of the talk is to help "flatten the learning curve", particularly for new beekeepers.


9:10am - 10:10am classes
Beekeeping 101: Honey Bee Basics (Worship Center, Tara Chapman– 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, Scott McKane– 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)?

Beekeeping as a Source of Income (Rm 231, Nathalie B.) – Nathalie B. offers a fresh perspective on how to significantly decrease equipment costs, while sharing tips on swiftly recouping your investment by boosting profit margins. Drawing on her business expertise, she presents out-of-the-box thinking that is beneficial for both backyard beekeepers and small-scale beekeeping operations. Instead of sticking to the conventional honey production and commercial beekeeping methods, she also champions the utilization of intelligent strategies when launching with limited resources, from creating niche markets, developing unique and innovative products and services, and employing creative marketing tactics. By working smarter, rather than harder, beekeepers of any size can decrease their cost, and even kickstart a successful beekeeping business without requiring an extensive investment.

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.

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, Steven 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.

Beekeeping Laws in Texas  (Rm 137, Texas Apiary Inspection Service)– A review of the laws in the state of Texas regarding honey bees, with a focus on the newly updated Ag Code Section 131.

Getting bees out of a tree w/o cutting: Forced Abscond(Rm 236, Ashley Ralph & Steve Butler) – 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.

Drone Diversity: Why it Matters? (Rm 234, Ryan Giesecke) – Understanding the value that drones play in the genetic make up not just the hive now, but future generations of this hive.


10:30am - 11:30am 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.

Pitfalls, Reflections, & Thoughts on being a 1st Year Beekeeper(Rm 241, Katherine Sherrod)– The story of my first year in beekeeping where I detail both significant failures and insights into how to avoid those same mistakes by knowing yourself AND your purpose in beekeeping. If you know those two things, it can save you from a lot of crazy internet advice and chasing your own tail!

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.

Plants for You and Your Bees (RM136A, Michael Vidrine) – 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.

Varroa Mite Testing & Treatment Options  (Rm 136B, Blake Shook) – 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.  Then the pros & cons, as well as methods of different treatment options are explored.

Insurance needs of Beekeepers  (Rm 137, Gordon Sorrel) – Beekeeping has many different facets where a person may need or want additional coverage than is provided in a basic homeowner's policy. This class explores the different activies and which may need other types of polies to protect the beekeeper and/or landowner.

Bee Removal Roundtable (Rm 136B, Randy McCaffrey, Rex Smith, Ryan Giesecke, Steve Butler & Justin Russell) – A discussion and Q&A with experts who perform live bee removals of all types, including swarm and full colony removals. The discussion will include business & liability protection advice as well as real-world "how to" handle different situations as they are presented.

USDA Honeybee Assistance vs USDA ELAP Program (Rm 234, Mandy Tabrizi) The USDA Farm Service Agency will touch on multiple programs they offer that assist honeybee growers. FSA’s Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) helps covers colony losses, honeybee hive losses and honeybee feed losses in instances where these have been destroyed by an eligible natural disaster or, in the case of colony losses, because of Colony Collapse Disorder. The Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) provides financial assistance to producers of table and non-table honey produced commercially for human consumption. This 1/2-hour presentation is meant to provide beekeepers resources and how to sign up for these programs..


1:00pm - 2:00pm classes
Beekeeping 103: Feeding & Nutrition (Worship Center, Tara Chapman) – 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).

Observations in Beekeeping (Rm 241, Randy McCaffrey)– will focus on the things he sees in both managed bees and feral colonies that have formed or helped form my opinions and processes in managed colonies, swarm trapping, treatment/treatment free and so on. I may also touch on some sideline and commercial beekeeping methods if time allows.

Exploration of Bees & Invasion Ecology (Rm 136A, Ryan Giesecke) – Western Honey Bees are classified as an "invasive species", but one that people tolerate. This class examines the various factors in determining a species' acceptance into a new ecology.

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.

Growing Fruit Trees for Beekeeping  (Rm 136A, Dr. Monte Nesbitt) – 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 area, and how to be successful in growing and planting them.

Leasing hives for Ag Valuations Roundtable (Rm 136B, Steven Brackmann, Rex Smith, & Nathalie B) – 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.

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. 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.

Rainfall Crop Insurance Program  (Rm 236, Nicole Gueck)  Reduced honey production can be attributed to a several weather-related factors but there is no denying that dry conditions have a negative impact on hive strength, hive products and honey production. Learn more about one program that beekeepers should be aware of to help manage increased costs and reduced hive revenue. The Rainfall Index crop insurance program offered by the USDA Risk Management Agency specifically pays out in years when estimated rainfall is lower than the historical average for a specific area. This program is best suited for established beekeepers with 40 or more hives.

Biology of Unmanaged Honey Bees Living in the Wild (Rm234, Myra Dickey) - This class will look at honey bees living in the wild and the biological factors that help them adjust to surviving "unmanaged"


2:10pm - 3:10pm classes
Beekeeping 104: Pest & Disease Control (Worship Center, Tara Chapman) – 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.

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

Catching & Keeping Swarms (Rm 136B, Ed Veiseh) – 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.

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.

Vegetable Gardening for Beekeepers (Rm 136A, Michael Vidrine– 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.

Medical Beekeeping: Using Honey & Propolis for Healing) (Rm 137, Carolyn Gibson) Some of the topics covered in this class are: Healing with Honey & Propolis, learn the antibacterial properties of honey.  How honey works through Osmosis, Acidity, & Hydrogen Peroxide activity, how honey is used in hospitals, how honey is used for wounds, burns and shingles, explanation how Manuka Honey is rated, the healing benefits of Propolis, and Using propolis for skin conditions, bee stings, and warts.  Her handout will include her recipe for Burn & Sunburn Spray using propolis & honey. How to make Propolis alcohol tincture, Glycerin Propolis tincture and Propolis Oil & salve.

Two Queen Hives: Concepts (Rm 137, Daniel Brantner) – Not everyone realizes that it is possible to have 2 queens in a hive naturally. Even fewer realize that this can be done on purpose, with some unique advantages and possibilities for the beekeeper. Pros & Cons to having 2 queens in your hives... on purpose.

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.

Honey Bee Lineages in the US (Rm236, Dr. Tonya Shepherd) - This talk will cover briefly how lineages are determined, examine the history of introduced honey bee species and lineages, migration of Africanized honey bees into the US, and discuss what affects genetic diversity of honey bees in the US.


3:30pm - 4:30pm classes
Beekeeping 106: Queen Management (Worship Center, 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.

Beekeeping 105: Apiary Setup (Rm 241, 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.

IPM: Integrated Pest Management (Rm 231, Erin Jones) – 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.

Troubleshooting a Failing Hive (Rm 136B, Blake Shook) – 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.

Hives For Heroes  (Rm 136B, Steve Jimenez) is a national non-profit service organization focusing on sustainability, conservation, and providing a healthy transition from service. Through our national network of beekeepers, we provide connection, purpose, and healthy relationships, through access, resources, and funding for Active Duty, Veterans, and First Responders.

Beekeeper Toolbox (Rm 137, Brandon Fehrenkamp) Stuff you should have with you when you work your bees?

Structural Cutouts - removing bees from a building (Rm, 236, Randy McCaffrey) – Tips and techniques you can utilize in order to increase the honey production from your hives.  Specifically targeted toward hobbyist and sideliners.


4:40pm - 5:40pm 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.

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.

Products of the Hive (Fellowship Hall, Carolyn Gibson– Join the class for a live demo. Salves, ointments and balms are made with oil and beeswax. The amount of beeswax will determine if it is a salve and ointment or if it is a balm. The size of the container will determine if it is a lip balm or a heel balm. The oil will determine the function of the product. Olive oil is for healing salves, almond oil or grapeseed oil for the lips. Go for the gold and use the more expensive oils. Infuse your oil with propolis or herbs to take it to a whole other level. Why you might consider mineral oil. Use mineral oil and beeswax as cutting board conditioner and protector. Lets add some nut butters like Shea or cocoa butter and then you have a lotion bar. Add flavorings for lip balms, essential oils for their healing benefits and aroma. Add fragrances or essential oils to lotion bars, or make a solid perfume stick. Don’t miss my Easiest to Make Body Butter. I will provide paper cups, or bring your own small container with a lid, so you can take home a sample.

Basic Swarm Prevention (Rm 136A, Steven Brackmann– A hands-on demonstration of the "Slovenian Hive", aka "AZ Hive".  Includes a discussion of unique features and pros & cons.

Medical Beekeeping: Sting Therapy (Rm 137, Dr. Kory Gill) This class talks about the medical aspects of using bee venom / stings for the treatment of various diseases - most notably, various forms of arthritis.

Pesticide Free Beekeeping (Rm 241, Nathalie B.)  Nathalie B. explains the different ways that backyard beekeepers can enhance the health and well-being of their colonies, as well as achieve cleaner comb and honey production, by eliminating the requirement for pesticides or foreign substances within the hive.  She offers mindful guidance on effectively utilizing sustainable Integrated Pest Management strategies, along with the bees’ innate immune systems and behaviors, to nurture resilient and productive colonies. This sustainable and natural approach enables cost-effective and productive beekeeping without the necessity for treatments

Beating The Heat (Rm 136B, Dan Jones) – 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.