Thursday, January 25, 2018

CVTC to Offer Beekeeping Class

Sessions to run March to October

Article Photo - CVTC to Offer Beekeeping Class

Jodi Lepsch, who will be the instructor for the CVTC Beekeeping class beginning in March, examines a frame from a beehive.


From the enjoyment of harvesting honey directly from the hive to a feeling of living closer to nature, the keeping of beehives has long fascinated people. However, most people who might like to have a beehive on their property wouldn’t know where to begin to make it happen.

Now Chippewa Valley Technical College is giving people interested in beekeeping a place to start. A one-credit, 32-hour Beekeeping for Beginners class is set to begin March 10 and run into October.

“When we were redesigning our agriculture programs, beekeeping was one of the options to add to our Landscape, Plant and Turf Management program,” said Adam Wehling, dean of agriculture, energy and transportation at CVTC. “This is a very affordable class for students and the community. By saving one hive of bees through the winter, the cost of this course would be recouped. Starting with a solid knowledge of bee health and habits will pay off for many years in the future.”

Wehling, who has been keeping bees himself for six years at his small farm in the Mondovi area, noted that area beekeeping groups conduct some classes, but they are usually short weekend affairs. “We saw an opportunity to enhance what has been started by these organizations by offering a more in-depth and hands-on class that follows care for hives from the summer honey harvest and getting them ready for the winter,” Wehling said.

Students in the class will have the opportunity to purchase a hive and bee colony, which will be kept at CVTC’s Energy Education Center for the duration of the class. Students can then take it home with them and be ready for their own beekeeping experience the following spring.

The class is a good fit with the programs already going on at the Energy Education Center, as the Landscape, Plant and Turf Management program cares for flowers, fruit trees and vegetables on the EEC grounds.

Wehling said the instructor for the class will be Jodi Lepsch, who also works for the Department of Natural Resources office in Eau Claire, and who received training at the University of Minnesota Bee Lab under Dr. Marla Spivak, a professor of entomology considered one of the nation’s leading experts on bees.

"Beekeeping is one of the most rewarding ways to connect with nature,” Lepsch said. “There are many reasons people keep bees, from the pollination services they provide for backyard vegetable gardens and fruit trees to harvesting delicious honey or simply out of a desire to give a boost to this struggling species. Whatever your reasons are for considering embarking on this adventure, this course will provide you with a hands-on learning experience that will help you decide if beekeeping is right for you."

The class will meet periodically on Wednesday nights, with “lab time” working directly with the hives taking place on Saturdays. Students need not attend lab sessions every Saturday, but will be expected to log a minimum number of hours over the length of the course, Wehling said.

The class isn’t just for rural folk, Wehling added. “It’s pretty easy to keep bees in the city now,” he said. “And while it’s helpful to have a good forage area for bees nearby, bees will travel up to two miles for nectar and pollen.”

CVTC is currently accepting registrations for the class. Go to cvtc.edu/Beekeeping for more information.

 
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