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2017-2019 Beekeeping Apprenticeship Program

Have you thought about becoming a beekeeper but were afraid to go it alone?  The San Francisco Bee-Cause Beekeeping Apprenticeship Program is an exciting and unique opportunity to learn beekeeping in a group setting.  Our Program provides an unequalled learning experience in which you will fully participate in the management of honey bee colonies throughout the seasons over a 2-year period.  

We are all aware of the immense challenges that face honey and native bees.  Through our Program you will develop the knowledge and skills necessary to competently and confidently manage honey bee colonies for bee health and honey production.  You also will have the opportunity to learn about our San Francisco native bees, and become a well-rounded “bee ambassador”!  

As far as we can tell, there is no other apprenticeship program in the U.S. that is remotely like ours.  2017 will mark beginning of our 5th beekeeping apprenticeship. 

               Application Deadline:
                  Sunday, February 19, 2017

Open or download the Application (is in Word) 
at the very bottom of this page (preview not available)

              2017-2019 Program Begins:
                 Saturday, March 4, 2017, 10:30 AM
              The Bee Farm, 
San Bruno Ave @ Ordway


Our Beekeeping Apprenticeship Program is designed to be of “no charge” because we are counting on your participation for the full 2-year period of the Program.  However you will be required to purchase your own personal protective items, tools and a beekeeping book (approx. $175-250).

Summary Overview of the Program:

The 2017-2019 Program runs from March 4, 2017 through March 31, 2019.

During Year 1 of the Program we make a substantial investment in you. We guide you through book, Internet, discussion and hands-on learning. You participate in the full range of beekeeping and related activities as well as special bee education events.  See below for more detail about Year 1 participation.

During Year 2 of the Program you continue to learn while "giving back" to the Program by serving as a "beekeeping mentor" to our new group of Year 1 apprentices, and taking primary responsibility for management of a specific honey bee colony in our apiary and taking responsibility some other aspect of the Program. See below for more detail about Year 2 participation.

Program communications are by email, so it is required that Program participants have email access, and regularly review and reply to Program emails.

 🐝 Year 1 (March 4, 2017 - March 31, 2018):

Hive Inspections: You will participate in honey bee colony inspections under the guidance of a Year 2 apprentice mentor. To get you jump started, you will participate in inspections every week beginning March 26, 2017.  Beginning May 1, 2017, you will participate in inspections every-other-week.  Inspections are on Sundays @ 10:30 AM through the time all colony inspections are done, usually no later than 3 PM.

Monthly Discussion Meetings: You will be given a monthly reading assignment on some aspect of honey bee biology and/or colony dynamics and management.  As a baseline, we are using the book, Simple Smart Beekeeping, Traynor & Traynor (Image Design Publishing, 2015),  To be successful in our Program, Year 1 apprentices are required to timely complete the reading assignment and actively participation in the Monthly Discussion Meetings.  Monthly Discussion Meetings are one Sunday per month, 2-4:30 PM at the nearby Portola Branch Library (these dates are listed in the 2017-2019 Program Application)

Periodic & Seasonal:
  • Participate in apiary maintenance activities and, before inspections, Bee Farm tree watering. 
  • Help extract and sell some of the honey produced by the colonies you helped to manage. 
  • Help staff educational events. 
  • As of interest to you, participate in special learning activities. These may include cleaning and preparing our beeswax for future use, making wax foundation, assembling hive boxes and frames, installing our wax foundation into frames, making lip balm, salves or lotions and candles using our wax. 
 🐝 Year 2 (April 1, 2018 - March 31, 2019):

Hive Inspections: In partnership with at least one other Year 2 apprentice mentor or other mentor, you will be responsible for managing two honey bee colonies, one of which will be your primary responsibility. You will continue to participate in colony inspections every-other-Sunday but as a mentor for the new Year 1 apprentices. You will promptly enter inspection observations, conclusions and management plans for your colonies into our HiveTracks account so your mentor partner and others are timely informed of your colonies’ development and needs.

Periodic & Seasonal:
  • Communicate and collaborate (by telephone or email) with your mentor partner regarding colony management issues and decisions. Do research and refresher reading regarding specific colony management issues, as needed, so you and your mentor partner can make informed science-based colony management decisions 
  • Participate in apiary maintenance activities 
  • As of interest to you: 
    • Lead a Monthly Discussion Session for Year 1 apprentices.
    • Organize and lead with special learning activities for Program participants 
    • Organize and lead a special projects or activities
    • Take leadership role for some part of the Program, beekeeping-related or honey-related activities of the organization 
  • Help extract and sell some of the honey produced by honey bee colonies you managed 
  • Help staff educational events

Application & Important Dates:

You can download, save and complete a 2017-2019 Beekeeping Apprenticeship Program Application here. The Application contains the 2016 Monthly Program Discussion Meeting dates and other important dates.  For convenience, however, below are important dates through April 2017, all of which are required of new Year 1 apprentices.
  • Sunday February 19:  The deadline to email your Application to kpeteros@comcast.net 
  • February 20-25:  You will need to be available for up to two telephone interviews/discussions in order to complete the application process. 
  • By Monday February 27:  You will be informed by email whether you are admitted to the Program. 
  • Saturday March 4 (10:30 AM - 3 PM):  Your first meeting at The Bee Farm.  In the event of rain, the location will be as TBA.  We will discuss purchasing protective clothing and beekeeping tools, the required book and reading schedule, and an overview of hive equipment, use of beekeeping tools, ergonomics, and inspection basics. You will have 3 weeks to purchase your own protective clothing, smoker and hive tool but only 2 weeks to purchase your book and complete the first reading assignment. 
  • Sunday March 19 (1 - 4 PM):  Meet at the Portola Branch Library for your first Monthly Discussion Session (Honey Bee & Colony Lifecycles).   
  • Sunday March 26 (10:30 AM - 3 PM):  Meet at The Bee Farm for your first hive inspection under the guidance of a mentor.  As necessary and by pre-arrangement, loaner bee suits, hive tools and smokers will be available for your use. 
  • Sundays April 2, 9, 16, 23 & 30 (10:30 AM - 3 PM):  Weekly hive inspection sessions. 
  • Sunday May 1  (10:30 AM - 3 PM):  Your every-other-Sunday hive inspection schedule begins.
                                 Our 2013-2015 Apprentices

                                      2014 - Year 1 Apprentices (front row) & Year 2 Mentors (back row)
Subpages (1): Apprenticeship book
Karen Peteros,
Jan 17, 2017, 2:24 PM