The Dallas Morning News

Bee informed

Keeper classes are offered at several locations around D-FW

- By ERIN BOOKE Staff Writer ebooke@dallasnews.com

So you think you want to try beekeeping. Maybe you like honey, maybe you’ve heard bees are important to our ecosystem,

food system, pretty much everything, and you want to do your part. Or maybe you just like that buzz of adrenaline as you lift a rack of humming bees from the hive.

Local bee experts are seeing an increased interest in beekeeping and have followed suit with classes for beginners and those interested in making it a hobby or even a business.

“The best thing to happen to beekeepers in the last half century was really the worst thing: colony collapse disorder [when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen],” a phenomenon that started getting attention in about 2006, says Konrad Bouffard, owner of Round Rock Honey in Round Rock. “But it woke up the public to the plight of the bees.”

Round Rock Honey offers introducto­ry classes throughout the state, including some in the Dallas area, that are geared toward those who know very little about bees and just want to get close, sometimes to face a fear.

“A big percentage of people we hear from want to know more about bees but are just too scared,” Bouffard says. “Anytime they heard about bees, they heard about people being stung to death. But that’s really rare. What we show people is that that’s not how most interactio­ns with bees go.”

The three-hour class, held in Rowlett, usually on Saturday mornings, starts with a couple of Round Rock Honey instructor­s talking everyone through the basics of bees, with a focus on sustainabl­e, organic beekeeping practices. Then it’s time to suit up.

Attendees are encouraged to wear long pants, closed-toe shoes (preferably boots), and baseball caps to help keep the bee hoods in place. Then they put on the provided bee suits, which zip up around the ankles, over gloves and around the neck. It can get a little, uh, sweaty during the summer. And be sure to take bug repellent and spray your ankles to keep the chiggers at bay.

After the informatio­nal session and the bee-suit dressing, the class walks over to about a dozen beehives on the other side of the field. You can get as close as you want or stand at a safeto-you distance. The employees light a smoker (which calms the bees), then carefully peek into the hive to see what kind of mood the bees are in. Then they slowly pull out a slat of bees. You can smell the honey, see it dripping, and hear the buzz of bees around your head. It’s unsettling at first, then almost calming.

“We focus on the introducti­on to beekeeping and don’t take it any further than that,” Bouffard says.

For those who are interested in more informatio­n, he recommends contacting local beekeeping associatio­ns for more in-depth informatio­n or a series of classes.

We found a few classes around North Texas for a range of bee interests.

 ?? Photos by Vernon Bryant/staff Photograph­er ?? Classes presented by Round Rock Honey in Rowlett offer an up-close look at beekeeping and honey production for beginners.
Photos by Vernon Bryant/staff Photograph­er Classes presented by Round Rock Honey in Rowlett offer an up-close look at beekeeping and honey production for beginners.
 ??  ?? Round Rock Honey’s David Brunken leads a 2018 class on beekeeping. The classes last about three hours and are usually offered on Saturday mornings.
Round Rock Honey’s David Brunken leads a 2018 class on beekeeping. The classes last about three hours and are usually offered on Saturday mornings.
 ??  ?? Participan­ts in Round Rock Honey classes will get to look inside a beehive under the guidance of an instructor.
Participan­ts in Round Rock Honey classes will get to look inside a beehive under the guidance of an instructor.
 ??  ?? Ayesha Mansoor (left) of Frisco puts on a beekeeper suit during a class in Rowlett after helping daughter Yusra with hers.
Ayesha Mansoor (left) of Frisco puts on a beekeeper suit during a class in Rowlett after helping daughter Yusra with hers.

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