Arboretum workshop: Get started in beekeeping!

Published 3:43 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2017

By Pat Drackett, Director, The Crosby Arboretum
MSU Extension Service

Are you interested in keeping bees, but don’t know how to begin?

Beekeeping has been growing in popularity with home gardeners in recent years. Just pick up a garden magazine, visit a bookstore, or take a spin on the Internet to find numerous podcasts, websites, or blogs that focus on this subject.

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Raising bees is relatively inexpensive, and can be undertaken by young and old alike. The hobby has a multitude of benefits! Bees increase pollination of flowers, fruit, and vegetable gardens in your neighborhood, for a range up to about around three miles, bees In addition to providing honey, a bee colony also yields wax and royal jelly. Honey and beeswax can be used in homemade soap, lotion, and other products.

Beekeeping is also becoming increasingly popular in cities, and honey production can particularly high in urban areas where there are large expanses of flowering “weeds” and other vegetation in vacant lots that provide nectar sources for foraging bees. Beekeepers in cities have reported honey yields greater than that of their more rural hives.

Learning about the proper care and potential issues from the experts in the field will save you a lot of disappointment, and money, and an upcoming workshop at the Crosby Arboretum promises to jump-start you on the path to managing your own hive.

Make plans to attend a two-hour “Beekeeping for Beginners” workshop on Thursday, June 29 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. with Mississippi State University Extension professor and research apiculturist, Dr. Jeff Harris. Dr. Harris will teach you everything you need to know to get started with beekeeping, including basic bee biology, how to choose the correct equipment and personal protective gear, common mistakes and valuable tips, and how to grow your first colony of bees and manage them throughout the year.

Interestingly, according to Dr. Harris, the number of bee colonies in our state increases in the winter months due to large commercial, migratory beekeepers from northern and Midwest states that overwinter their colonies here. Another remarkable fact is that Mississippi has led the nation in honey yield, at an average of about a hundred pounds per hive.

A five-day beekeeping summer camp is taking place this week at Mississippi State University’s Starkville campus. Keep this popular intergenerational camp in mind for next summer. MSU Extension professors from the department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology Department conduct the camp. Campers age 10 through adults may attend, and parents are encouraged to attend with their young beekeepers.
The MSU Extension Service website ( is an excellent source of reliable, research-based information, where you can read and download more on the subject specific to the state. Just enter the key word “beekeeping” to find articles and information on beekeeping, many which have been written by bee specialist Dr. Jeff Harris. Past issues of the Mississippi Beekeeper newsletter are also available on the MSU Extension website, and are packed with information.
Mark your calendar for the “Beekeeping for Beginners” workshop at the Arboretum on Thursday, June 29 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. with Dr. Jeff Harris, and learn how to grow and manage your first colony of bees! The program is free to Arboretum members and only $5 for non-members.
A fun and educational Children’s Insect Workshop will take place Friday, July 7, from 10:00 AM to Noon, led by Hancock County Extension Agent Christian Stephenson. Cost for non-members’ children is $2. Children must be accompanied by parent/guardian (no charge for adults).

Our popular Hummingbirds program will return on Saturday, July 22, from 10:00 to 11:00 AM.
Long-time hummingbird bander James Bell will reveal how you can fill your yard with hummingbirds! Learn all about their lives, how they feed, why they fight, and tips and tricks to attract them. Suited to ages 8 and up. Non-member adults $5, non-members’ children $2.

The workshop, “Bringing Nature to Life in Your Writing”, with local writer Mary Beth Magee will be held Saturday, July 29, from 10 AM to Noon. Fee for non-member adults is $7.
Space in our programs is limited. To guarantee your seat, please call 601-799-2311 as soon as possible to register.
For more information, please see The Arboretum is located in Picayune, I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road (south of Walmart and adjacent to I-59).