Almost 400 people are planning to attend the eighth annual Fall Bee School — hosted by the Brazos Valley Beekeepers Association — from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church in Bryan.
The Fall Bee School will have about 50 educational classes from basic beekeeping to advanced beekeeping for anyone looking to broaden their bee knowledge, according to Denise Mann, communications volunteer with the Brazos Valley Beekeepers Association.
“Anyone who has ever had an interest in bees or beekeeping or if you just love honey, or need an ag-exemption valuation for your property, or you want better pollination for your gardens, then this event is for you,” she said Wednesday. “It is open for anybody, including youth.”
In addition to teaching people about bees and about beekeeping through the Bee School, Mann said proceeds from the event go toward the associations’ youth program. The program teaches youth how to be beekeepers and how they can later receive scholarships and take care of a beehive themselves, she said.
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Some of the classes offered include living and working with hot bees, hive security and the biology of mating honeybees, Mann said.
“There are a lot of classes this year on landscaping, bee-friendly plants, and how to get your ag-valuation for an ag exemption on your property. For Brazos County, if you have less than 20 acres but more than five, you can’t get an ag exemption unless you have livestock or you [have] bees,” she said. “There are classes on honey extraction, wax production on how you can make things like lip balms and candles. And the classes are taught by different master beekeepers from around the state.”
There also will be vendors present selling beekeeping equipment and supplies, and honey products and wax products, she said.
Chris Barnes, co-chair and youth program director of the Brazos Valley Beekeepers Association, has been part of the association since its inception in 2015 and is teaching a few classes at this year’s event.
Barnes said he hopes people look at beekeeping differently after taking his classes.
“When people think about beekeeping, a lot of times they get pretty nervous because of everything they think they have to learn,” he said. “And there is a lot to learn, but it is one of those things that you can learn as you go, you don’t have to know everything from day one.”
Barnes also emphasized the importance of bees and why education on bees is vital to a growing population. Honeybees, in particular, are responsible for pollinating about 35% of the food people eat, Barnes said.
“Without honeybees pollinating those crops, our grocery stores would be pretty bare, especially the produce aisles,” he said.
Barnes said more students are enrolled in their youth program and he is grateful funds are going toward equipping them to become young beekeepers.
Lynn Burlbaw, co-chair of the Brazos Valley Beekeepers Association, said 24 youth between the ages of 12 and 17 are entered in the program to raise bees.
“It is pretty hard to raise bees without some family involvement, so this draws in families to do something together, and it teaches those youth responsibility,” he said. “At the end of the program in May, the students will get their own beehive and will work with it for the next year. … We also have youth who when they complete that, can receive scholarship money for college.”
Burlbaw said he recently became a beekeeper and currently has three hives of his own.
“My granddaughter also joined the youth program and my son has become involved in it, too,” he said. “It has been a very nice thing for us and for our family to spend time together.”
The cost is $70 per person; $125 for a couple; and $15 for children with a parent or guardian.
To register for the Fall Bee School, view the class schedule or find out more at bvbeeks.org/events/bee-school/. Walk-ins will be accepted during 7 a.m. check-in.
In addition, the BeeWeaver Honey Farm in Navasota is hosting an Infuzzed Honey Cook-Off from 4-8 p.m. Saturday. The free event includes educational workshops on honey infusion, beeswax products and mead, according to their website. For more information, visit beeweaver.com/store/INFUZZED-p371056341.