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Arizona State University hopes to fight bee crisis with beekeeping courses

Posted at 3:53 AM, Oct 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-09 13:15:06-04

MESA, AZ — Researchers at Arizona State University's Honey Bee Research Lab are trying to combat the honey bee crisis by offering new hobby beekeeping courses.

The courses are open to the public, not just ASU students.

They range from introduction to beekeeping to more advanced lessons on queen rearing and royal jelly production. People can learn where to get a colony, how to harvest honey, and what plants to have around the home.

Honey bees are essential to our crops.

Most of the produce we see in grocery stores is pollinated by millions of European honey bees, like the ones at ASU's research lab. Research shows we're losing 40 percent of the bee population each year. That decline is a threat to our food supply.

Cahit Ozturk, the lab manager at the school's Polytechnic Campus in Mesa, has been studying bees for 30 years. He says hobby beekeepers can help by installing hives in their backyards.

"If beekeepers don't do this, we can lose in a few years, in a decade, the whole entire bee population. It's a huge problem," he said.

The research lab has about 100 honey bee colonies.

Leaders started offering a couple of beekeeping courses in 2016. This year, they're expanding to include more classes on a variety of topics. Ozturk says he's seen more interest from the public.

"They're coming here. How we can support the bees and how we can contribute to bees? They'd like to help us," he said.

Ozturk says beekeeping is a win-win for everyone.

"They're going to collect their food from your environment. At the same time, they will give us pollination services," said Ozturk.

Ozturk says anyone can be a beekeeper. In the courses, you learn how to handle the bees, but if beekeeping isn't for you, there are other ways you can help.

Ozturk says you should avoid harmful pesticides in your yard. Also, planting bee-friendly plants will help provide a food source for the bees. You can search bee-friendly plants here.

These are the bee courses coming up soon:

Introduction to Beekeeping

  • When: Oct. 12, Sat.
  • Who: Anyone interested in starting beekeeping.
  • What: Learn basic honey bee biology, how to start and maintain a honey bee colony, how to address common challenges for beekeepers.
  • Cost: $50

Royal Jelly Production

  • When: Oct. 26-27, Sat.-Sun.
  • Who: Hobby beekeepers with more than one year of experience.
  • What: Learn how to graft larvae for royal jelly production, use plastic and wax queen cells, prepare queen cells for royal jelly production, harvest and store royal jelly.
  • Cost: $200

Hobby Beekeeping

  • When: Nov. 2-3, Sat.-Sun.
  • Who: Anyone interested in learning about bees or beekeeping.
  • What: Learn technical beekeeping skills and applying techniques to maintain healthy bee colonies as well as hands on practice handling and managing a bee colony with the European colonies at the Honey Bee Research Lab.
  • Cost: $200