NPC Offers Beekeeping Program To Aid In Decline Of Honeybees
National Park College (NPC) Continuing Education Department has partnered with the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation to offer a two-day course in beekeeping to help slow the decline of honeybees in our area.
Introduction to Bees and Beekeeping will be offered in two five-hour sessions. Participants may choose from a selection of evening classes offered each month through May. The course will focus on the history of beekeeping, honeybee biology, plant and pollinator relationships and essential equipment requirements. This is the first of six levels in the Midwest Master Beekeeper Certification Program.
Honeybees have experienced declines in recent years, due in part because of colony collapse and an increase in pests and disease. Melinda Thornton, Continuing Education Specialist at NPC says the lack of experienced beekeepers and mentors has also contributed to the decline. “For the past decade, new individuals embark on learning their new hobby of beekeeping only to quit after two years,” Thornton said. “As the demographics of beekeepers age, you see the loss of that knowledge as well.”
In order to halt the decline of honeybees, the Midwest Master Beekeeper Program was developed two-and a half years ago by entomologists and beekeepers with decades of experience. The idea was to develop a program of standardized education that is more comprehensive than regular beekeeping classes. It includes topics on taxonomy, biology, botany, genetics, pesticides, diseases, pests, economics, and an opportunity to learn to be a productive honey producer over time.
“This program was developed to usher in new people interested in learning about beekeeping and to retain the ones that are currently learning the trade,” Thornton said. “Yes, it’s a hobby, but it can also be a trade. You can earn money and make a living from your beekeeping products or by selling bees. There is a large market for natural products.”
The first three level classes are open to anyone who wants to learn more about bees and pollinators. Each course is five hours and split into two evenings. Classroom time is typically 2.5 hours on a Tuesday and Thursday night. Books are included in the registration fee and are provided in class for each level. For those that decide to participate in the certification program, there is a study guide required which helps a participant prepare for the exam.
The Midwest Master Beekeeper Program encourages students to join a local beekeeping association and to find a mentor,” Thornton said. “In fact, it is a requirement if a student decides to complete the certification program. You learn hands-on practice through these local associations. A list of local beekeepers is provided for students to choose from. A list of beekeeping equipment suppliers is also provided, which helps boost the economy by promoting local suppliers.”
NPC is currently offering five date options for the Level 1 class and will continue with Levels 2 and 3 during the summer and fall. The registration fee for each level is $75. To view the current Continuing Education spring schedule of classes, visit https://np.edu/community-friends/continuing-education/. Registration can be completed online at https://shortclass.np.edu/wconnect/ace/home.htm. For more information, or to register by phone, contact Melinda Thornton, at email@example.com or 501-760-4223.