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How To Become A Beginning Beekeeper
Always wanted to set up a few beehives? Thanks to Penn State University, you can now take an entry-level Beekeeping 101 course online.
  “We used to offer beginner beekeeping classes in January and February, but there were always people who couldn’t fit it into their schedule or couldn’t get to all the classes,” says Tom Butzler, extension horticulture expert. “Now people can participate online and review the material whenever they have time.”
  Butzler and Maryann Tomasko Frazier, entomology expert, are presenters for the class. Initially they gave it live, then transitioned to webinars with simple graphics and pictures. Finally, they added videos they made.
  With the help of Penn State’s public television station WPSU, the entire course is now available online with more than 80 high-quality videos and animations. Viewers can scroll over a picture on the computer screen and see details such as the different body parts, their role and function.
  “We launched it in July 1, 2012, with no marketing or promotion so we could work out the bugs,” says Butzler. “We started promoting it in November and now have people all over the U.S. and the world who have signed up to take the course.”
  Registration for the course is $189. This allows registrants to access all the coursework for a full year. The course covers bee biology, behavior, hive management, swarming, equipment, bee products and more.
  There are 10 sessions in all with a self-assessment at the end of each session. Registration also includes access to a discussion forum where people share questions and information with other students and the instructors.
  “The self-assessment helps people identify what they’ve learned. If they didn’t learn it the first time, they can go back and review the information before going on,” says Butzler. “Questions in the discussion forum often go beyond what we cover in the course.”
  Butzler emphasizes the course is just an overview. He encourages his students to join local beekeeping clubs, noting there are more than 25 of them in Pennsylvania alone.
  One sign of success with the course is that he’s now getting questions about doing a followup course, Beekeeping 102.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Tom Butzler, Penn State Cooperative Extension - Clinton County, 47 Cooperation Ln., Mill Hall, Penn. 17751 (ph 570 726-0022; tmb124@psu.edu; www.beekeeping101.psu.edu).

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2013 - Volume #37, Issue #2