Registration Open for 2018 Beekeeping for Certification Class

Milwaukee County UW-Extension will be offering the 2018 Beekeeping for Certification Program April 25th – September 2018. This class is for:

  • Individuals who live in cities like Milwaukee that require property owners to have certification in order to maintain bees on their property
  • Individuals who want to test out beekeeping before they invest in purchasing all of the supplies necessary to maintain healthy beehives
  • Individuals looking to learn about best practice for beekeeping who are not looking to work with a beehive

To learn more and Register please see the 2018 Beekeeping for Certification Registration form. 


What will the class be like?

The Beekeeping for Certification class consists of lectures, hands on laboratory classes, and optional on-site apiary experiences. The lectures and laboratory classes will take place at Wehr Nature Center. During the on-site apiary experiences students will work in teams of 4-5 and use their training to manage a hive throughout the year. This includes installing a package of bees in spring and extracting the honey in late summer. The team will also prepare the hive for a long cold winter.

It is not necessary to participate in the apiary experience for certification, but you will need to pass a short field test to demonstrate your beekeeping competence to be certified. Our community garden apiaries contain hives from past students and some UWEX hives.  Viewing and talking to those beekeepers will also provide more opportunities to increase your knowledge.


Two Options for Class Enrollment:

  1. Attend all lectures and all the classroom labs and then team up with fellow classmates and manage a hive. Team members can check and explore their hive at times they feel appropriate. This experience will exceed the nine planned labs and apiary events that will be scheduled. Your team will record all the events at the apiary and take pictures that will be posted on our private Facebook page.  Bonus: you and your teammates will share some of the honey produced by your hive.  
  • Option 1 includes: Spring: installing a package of honey bees, management of spring honey production and swarm management. Summer: preparation for summer honey production, monitoring pests and diseases. Fall: installing bee escapes, maximizing fall honey production, honey extraction and processing. Late September: insect and disease management, preparing for winter. October, winterization techniques.
  1. Attend the lectures and classroom labs only with no on-site apiary experience. If certification is needed, you will have to pass a short hands-on test at the Wehr Nature Center apiary. Our mandatory class labs include lighting a smoker, identifying insects, tasting honey, trying on bee suits, exploring the variations of hive components, hive tools and more. This option is ideal for students who are not interested in managing a hive or already own their own hives

 NOTE: You will be allowed to change the option you pick now once the class starts. We realize as you may not have enough information at this time to make an informed decision. Please let us know your intent so we can plan accordingly.


Frequently Asked Questions: 

Will I be allowed to change the enrollment option I pick now once the class starts? 

Yes. We realize you may not have enough information at this time to make an informed decision.  However, we would like to know your intent so we can plan accordingly.


Will we have to wear bee suits?

Personal protection (bee suits) will be required to take part in activities that work with live bees.  We realize some experienced beekeepers do not use bee suits, but we want to minimize the risk of stings.  It is mandatory to at least wear a head net.  Students could also observe some of these activities from a distance without a bee suit.  You can still get close to the action with minimal chances of being stung.  Bees are gentle insects but will protect their hive if they feel threatened.


What if we don’t have bee suits yet?

We have a limited supply of bee suits available to use at the apiary.


What will the on-site apiary experiences be like?

Working on your group hive in the apiary is somewhat self-directed.  Mentors and instructors will be available periodically. After the first series of lectures, the class will meet monthly June through November.  Mini updates of each hive will be presented by all or some of your group at subsequent classes.  Because of the diverse problems that can occur we find this sharing of experiences a great opportunity to learn.


Where will the classes take place? 

  • Lectures and some of our labs will be held at Wehr Nature Center at 9701 W. College Ave, Franklin, WI.
  • Many of the apiary experiences will be held at the Firefly Ridge Community Garden apiary, located in Wauwatosa on Underwood Dr. across from the Hanson Golf Course.
  • Other class apiaries include:
    • Rawson Garden, 1300 E. Rawson Ave., Oak Creek
    • Kohl Farm Community Garden, 8434 W. County Line Road (across from the Mequon Nature Preserve)
    • Forest Hill Community Garden 2000 East Forest Hill Road, Oak Creek.


When will the labs take place?

After the first two labs, dates for lab experiences, whether it is working in an apiary or at Wehr, will be determined by class consensus.  It is very difficult to select dates for many of the field labs because of the uncertainty of available supplies, bees and weather. We will try to accommodate you the best that we can. Please understand that these variables are out of our control.  Subsequent labs at the apiaries are also dependent on many circumstances.  Understand that we will try our best to accommodate all students but sometimes that may be impossible.

Will we have to pay for parking?

Parking at Wehr Nature Center is $3.50 per visit. You can pay with cash, check, or credit at the reception desk. For cost savings we encourage you to get a Friends of Wehr Membership for $25 that includes free parking for a year. You may sign up to be a member on the first day of class with Wehr Nature Center Staff, or become a member online at the Friends of Wehr website.