Learn The Art of Beekeeping

Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association (EMBA)

by Cassandra Hage, Beekeeper

Five years ago, I came across a flyer that would change my life. It promoted the idea of learning how to “make your own honey,” which I realize now is silly – the bees to all of the work!

A blossoming DIY-er and urban homesteader, I saw the workshop as an opportunity to learn about something else I could add to the mix. I love honey and bees seemed pretty interesting, so why not get some information? So I registered, then showed up for the workshop. Little did I know, before I left, I would be committing myself to beekeeping, committing my parents to hosting two hives, and embarking on an interesting and rewarding hobby unlike any other!

The Beekeepers Workshop was my introduction to the Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association (EMBA). It’s composed of a 100% volunteer core of highly dedicated individuals who are passionate about promoting beekeeping and training the next generation of backyard beekeepers. EMBA hosts monthly meetings that offer networking opportunities, Q&A, and high-quality presentations about topics ranging from how to do a hive inspection to how to make lip balm with your beeswax. Members range from experienced commercial beekeepers with 30+ years of experience to “newbees” who are just figuring it out.

In addition to monthly meetings, EMBA puts on an incredible annual workshop with sessions for beginners and sessions for experienced beekeepers. EMBA recruits nationally renowned honeybee scientists, professors, and beekeepers to train attendees on current best practices and share cutting-edge research.

As a beginner at the workshop, I didn’t know what to expect, but was pleased to find that EMBA had a plan for me! Throughout the day, the presenters took us through the ins and outs of beekeeping, covering topics like honeybee biology and how to perform a hive inspection. They answered questions like:

“How often will I get stung?” “How do I find the queen?” “How much will it cost me to start a hive?” “When will I be able to harvest honey?” “How much time will it take to manage my hive?”

By the time the day wrapped up, I had met beekeepers old and young, experienced and new, country dwellers and urbanites, commercial keepers and hobbyists – you name it! I also developed a fascination with these incredible creatures and a serious craving for honey. I was hooked!

It wasn’t long until I had placed my order for two hives (because you can’t get just one, right?), beekeeping equipment, and my first two starter colonies through the club’s cooperative purchase option. I assembled the hive with help from some experienced keepers at the hive assembly workshop that followed in March. Soon, I was all set up and ready for the bees to arrive. When I picked them up at the delivery point, I stayed to watch the demonstration on how to get the bees from the package into the hive and get them situated in their new home.

Every step of the way, volunteers from the EMBA served as resources and mentors. Five years and four hives later, I’ve harvest hundreds of pounds of honey, brewed hundreds of gallons of mead (honey wine), and even started to sell surplus honey on the side. The bees are a great fit for my small South St. Louis City yard alongside fruit trees and a vegetable garden. I love having honey year round to share with friends and family.

Sound like something you could see yourself doing or want to “just get some information,” like me five years ago? Join us at the 7th Annual Beekeeping Workshop! It will change your life too! Here is all the information to get you started: Saturday, February 8th, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Maritz in Fenton, Missouri. Tuition: $75 through January 18, 2014, $90 January 19th – February 1st. Lunch and refreshments are included in the cost. Registration packets include course materials, an authoritative reference book, beekeeping periodicals, and equipment catalogs. The third annual Mardi Gras Banquet will be held on Friday, February 7th, featuring New Orleans style food and music, a cash bar, door prizes (including nucs, queens and beekeeping equipment) and a keynote speaker. More information and registration at: www.easternmobeekeepers.com.