“There’s some funny-looking stuff in my beehive! What is it? What do I do?”

Beginning beekeepers do feel a bit helpless when they spot something not seen before in their hive. Fear not. Help can be found in many places and in many ways. Unfortunately today people turn to the Internet for a solution to a question, a problem, a situation. If you are a beginning beekeeper STOP before you leap into the Internet Universe. You do not have the knowledge or the background to sift good information from wrong, bizarre from sensible, useless from useful. So here are some ways you can find information.

First, do you belong to a local beekeepers club? If not, you can find your closest one by googling your state beekeepers association. Look for links to local clubs. If you live very close to another state, try that one. One local club there may be close to you.

You can also contact your state or local Cooperative Extension Service to find a local beekeepers club near you.

Once you have found a local association, attend the meetings where you can mingle with both beginning and experienced beekeepers. A local association may give beginning beekeeper classes and also provide mentors for beginners. Some local and even state associations have a newsletter. This will cover topics seasonal for your area.

If you prefer an online course you can try one of these created at universities for beginning beekeepers. North Carolina State University and one from Pennsylvania State University

Plan on attending state association meetings. Speakers at these larger meetings can be the bee scientists from around the U.S. Those speakers will have up-to-date information on our bee problems. Workshops are common at state meetings. A wide range of bee and beekeeping projects can be learned in workshops.

Three regional and two national beekeeper associations are in the U.S. They each have a conference once a year, the regional ones in summer and the national two in January. Information on these can be found on their websites:

Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS)

Heartland Apicultural Society (HAS)

Western Apicultural Society (WAS)

American Beekeeping Federation (ABF)

American Honey Producers Association (AHPA)

Next, do you have a good book about beekeeping? You need to start a bee library. It can be a small one but it should be a useful one. Yes, Amazon lists many books about bees and beekeeping but, again, you do not have the background yet to make a sensible selection. Here are a very few titles that would make the start of your library. These books are available from Amazon and from beekeeping equipment suppliers.


8The Backyard Beekeeper

3rd Edition

Kim Flottum. Quartous Books.






7The Beekeepers Handbook 4th Edition

Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile

Cornell University Press.







6Haynes Bee Manual

Claire Waring. Pub. Haynes







Another book, well-illustrated and easy reading, is excellent for those contemplating becoming a beekeeper.

5Honey Bee Hobbyist

Norman Gary. Hobby Farm Press.







For disease and pest identification, two books are available and very useful. Both of them are printed on coated paper so they can be carried to the beehives without damage.

4A Field Guide to Honey Bees and Their Maladies


Available from Walter T. Kelley Co.—–

and Mann Lake—–





3Diagnosis and Treatment of Common Honey Bee Diseases

Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) $20, available from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm. www.







Two very useful monthly magazines for beekeepers are:

1American Bee Journal







2Bee Culture







To find information about beekeeping equipment you can simply google beekeeping supplies. Here you will find a list and contact information for the major suppliers. If you wish you can request to be put on their catalog mailing list so that a yearly catalog will be part of your library. Beekeepers at your local club may know of a nearby equipment supplier selling some of the national equipment. It is best to buy the actual hive equipment from just one supplier for consistency of fit of parts. However it is not necessary for purchase of ancillary equipment.

One website has excellent information. Although it is based in the mid-Atlantic states much of the information is appropriate to beekeeping anywhere. Its full name is Mid-Atlantic Apiculture Research and Extension Consortium but is better known as MAAREC. You can google that or use this

Quite a number of newsletters are available with an assortment of information. Some will have local information for their area as well as national and world news in beekeeping. Here is a list so that you can sample these and decide if you wish to receive one or more. Today in the beekeeping world news can happen very quickly.

Apis Information Resource Center News. ISSN 0089-3764

UC-Davis online newsletter

This newsletter includes links to websites for an assortment of beekeeping topics. To subscribe to Items for Beekeepers contact

For news absolutely ‘hot off the press’ go to and click on Catch the Buzz where you will see how to subscribe. Don’t worry it’s FREE!

If you are interested in some worldwide news, you can receive an online newsletter called ApiNews. Here you can also see research results from scientists around the world. Go to

You can keep up with our country’s progress in conservation of pollinators on two interesting websites. One is the Pollinator Partnership, and the other is Project apis m. at

Many beekeepers and local beekeeping clubs are participating in projects of the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP), This organization, based at the University of Maryland, is collecting information from beekeepers across the country. On this site you can see information about Winter losses of colonies during several Winters. How other beekeepers are dealing with a variety or issues and which course of action is best choice for where you are.

An excellent site on bee health, as well as other topics, can be found at

Another countrywide group with information on honey bee health is the Honey Bee Health Coalition. You can visit their website at

An interesting countrywide project is participating in scale hives. To find out information about this project and its results go to

Once your friends and neighbors find out you are a beekeeper they will have questions about honey. The very best site to visit for an incredible amount of information about honey is that of the National Honey Board. Here you can find facts about honey, information about marketing and labeling, nutrition information and much more. In addition you can subscribe to their honey recipes where you will be sent recipes appropriate for the season or holiday. Spend some time exploring all the information on this site even if you have not made your first honey harvest yet.

If you are curious about what defines organic honey, visit the National Honey Board website and put Organic Labeling Requirements in the search box. That will take you to a link explaining the requirements for using the word ‘organic’ on a honey label.

You may have heard about other kinds of bees that also do pollination. One website that can give you some information about the mason bees and how to attract them is

Becoming a beekeeper is like entering a new world full of ongoing interesting information. It is a world of successes and disasters but good information is available. Pay attention to that good information and you will become a better beekeeper. ~Ann W. Harman



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