Saving Honeybees, One New Beekeeper at a Time!

by Stephen Harris, Tumalo Bee Academy

Through raising plants and landscaping, Mike Ludeman of Tumalo Garden Market realized the importance of honeybees for pollinating the plants he was marketing, planting and growing. He connected with local beekeeper, Stephen Harris, who has kept and raised bees in Central Oregon since 1968. Michael got the beekeeping bug and with help from Stephen, started three hives in Tumalo at the nursery.

Meanwhile, Stephen was holding classes and mentoring students, as a Master Beekeeper for the OSU Master Beekeeper Program in Central Oregon. Stephen felt there was a need to create more local opportunities and increase education for local beekeeping. In 2012, Michael and Stephen joined forces to create the Tumalo Bee Academy to further honeybee education in Central Oregon. The mission of the Tumalo Bee Academy is to promote comprehensive local beekeeping through education and increase local honeybee populations in Central Oregon year round. Tumalo Garden Market offers a great setting for the Tumalo Bee Academy with its beautiful gardens and beehives for pollination, so hands-on work can be done on site as well as at the apiary.

Why Keep Bees?

Tumalo Bee Academy is an all inclusive educational opportunity to learn the proper way to care about bees year-round. Instructor Stephen Harris has been raising bees in Central Oregon for 50 years. You will learn about bees in general and all the ins and outs of beekeeping. The class meets monthly, every second Tuesday, and provides you with a book (Natural Bee Keeping), full colony of locally raised bees with a locally raised queen, 12-monthly classroom sessions and at least 20 outdoor field sessions. “Locally raised” is very important for our climate. Tumalo Bee Academy is a year-round school that will help you understand and manage a colony of honeybees of your own, in your own back yard.

The monthly classroom sessions (January to November) are structured to give students a full understanding of the inner workings of the honeybee colony. Tumalo Bee Academy takes you through the basic anatomy of honeybees, the workings of the interior of your colony, raising honeybees in your own back yard and grafting queens or other methods of producing more colonies from your first one. This includes honeybee identification (queen, drone and worker), comb understanding, pollen, honey and beebread, eggs, larva and capped brood.

The outdoor classes are hands-on and held when weather permits. These classes may also be spontaneous when a swarm happens. You will learn the differences between a healthy colony versus one that may have issues, such as diseases or an overpopulation of Varroa mites. Beekeepers can deal with many problems when they understand the colony situation. These outdoor classes help the beginner and advanced beekeeper to become more comfortable and confident working inside the honeybee colony. Stephen’s 50-years of experience guides you through colony inspections. Learning beekeeping is not only educational but, an experience that can only come from being “inside” the honey bee colony. Students are encouraged to attend all outdoor classes and honeybee colony extractions.

Students can sign up for the year-long class or drop-in for classes (for an added fee) that cover the “hands on” aspect of working with honeybees in a variety of situations include colony inspections. Students will have the opportunity to see and practice all aspects of bee keeping “in the field.” There are sessions on hive diseases, drumming hives, swarms and moving hives. Students build their own hives from kits to better understand the structures they will be colonizing with bees.

Tumalo Bee Academy teaches honeybee education and is helping to save bees — one Beekeeper at a time! That’s YOU!!

Stephen Harris is a resident of Central Oregon since 1954. He is a member of the Central Oregon Bee Keeping Association and the OSU Master Bee Keepers Program. He has raised and kept bees in Central Oregon since 1968. Stephen started the Tumalo Bee Academy as the lead instructor in 2012. Stephen maintains a large apiary in Central Oregon where he raises local queens and colonies for Central Oregon Bee Keepers. He volunteers for many honeybee related projects throughout the region. Stephen saves honey bees form certain death by carefully removing them form structures such as houses and apartment walls, as honeybees like to swarm into any area that is suitable for living quarters.

Tumalo Bee Academy
19879 8th Street, Tumalo, Oregon 97703, 541-728-0088
Stephen Harris, 541-410-2067
Photos courtesy of Tumalo Garden Market

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