2020 will mark the beginning of our 8th beekeeping apprenticeship program! Read what some of our past and current participants are saying about their experience in our program.
Kevin L, Berkeley
2017-2019 Program graduate
Returning Mentor, 2019:
Being in the Program has given me the knowledge, skills and confidence to set up my own hives and become a successful beekeeper. It introduced a whole new community of awesome people into my life, and furthered my connection with the natural world.
The Program is no small time commitment but it is worth it. You get both "classroom" and hands-on practical experience on a regular basis and you can't get this anywhere or, if you can, you’d pay a lot of money. I took the California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP) Apprentice level written and field tests in September 2019. I was well-prepared and easily passed the tests.
Some people like to garden. Others like to keep backyard chickens or rabbits. I prefer to keep honey bees. Unlike gardening, you don't get your hands dirty. Since you don't do your hive inspecting until conditions are bright and sunny, it is perfect for a non-morning person like me.
I also find that beekeeping is very meditative. Looking through a colony of honey bees helps me quiet my mind, almost like doing tai-chi. All that matters in the moment are myself and the sights, sounds and smells of the bees.
Being in the Program started a lifelong passion. I hope to continue to serve as a mentor for future aspiring beekeepers.
Sarah M, Alameda
2018-2020 Program graduate
Returning Mentor, 2020:
Being involved in the Program has helped to solidify my interest and general knowledge of bees in coastal California. The Program has curated a community of like-minded individuals who are engaged in newly-emerging science around honey beekeeping as well as the historical perspective. I have enjoyed my experience reading, researching, discussing, and inspecting with a group where no question is silly, and Program participants are excited to share and expand their own knowledge about the subject matter of bees! My participation in the Program enabled me to easily pass the California Master Beekeepers Program, Apprentice Level, with flying colors in September 2019.
As a first-year apprentice, it was a beneficial experience to work with second-year mentor-apprentices and returning mentors. It greatly informed how I have behaved as a second-year mentor-apprentice and how I will engage in my third-year as a returning mentor and beyond.
Thank you to SF Bee-Cause for contributing to my lifelong learning, my continued love of bees and pollinators, as well as continually engaging my brain with new and interesting information.
Selena F, Oakland
2018-2020 Program graduate:
Becoming part of the SFBC Beekeeping Apprenticeship Program is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my path of supporting sustainability and land-based resilience in the Bay Area. With 2 years of hands-on beekeeping apprenticeship and mentoring under my belt, I’m confident in my ability to effectively share my knowledge with members of my community, and to manage honey bee colonies for health, pollination and honey production.
Upon completion of my second year on March 31, 2020, I plan on tapping the modular, focused approach of the SFBC Program to support educational programming for multi-generational families in my immediate neighborhood in Oakland.
Roxane G, Long Island NY (formerly San Francisco)
2013-2015 Program graduate:
I really enjoyed my time in the apprenticeship program as I was able to learn so much about these amazing creatures. Still to this day, I love sharing what I learned in the program with friends and family. One of the things I loved about the program was spending time and learning with new people while building wonderful relationships with my fellow apprentices. Some of my fondest memories were of sharing a snack with my hive partner after inspecting our colony and taking notes about what we learned about our colony that week. We both particularly enjoyed doing our hive inspections at the same time other teams were inspecting their hives in the apiary. We were able to learn what was happening inside other hives – what was the same, similar or different due to colony differences.
The time commitment of the program is significant but worth it. It is very important to see and feel what is going on inside different hives over the course of two years. You learn so much by looking for the queen, finding her or not, looking for eggs and brood in various stages of development, assessing food stores and the health of the colony while looking for pests and diseases. The program teaches you available IPM remedies and best practices. I highly recommend it!
Kasey W, San Francisco
2014-2016 Program graduate
Returning Mentor, 2016-2018:
The San Francisco Bee-Cause beekeeping apprenticeship program was way more valuable of an experience than I ever could have imagined. As a garden educator and science teacher, I am always looking for ways to deepen my connection to and understanding of the natural world. Through the program, I became an experienced and confident beekeeper, but I also gained more insight into San Francisco's ecology and my place within it.
The program provided hands-on experience on hive inspections, honey harvesting and extraction, and preparing beekeeping equipment. It also provided readings and research on practical honey bee biology and the nuances of colony development and management through the seasons over two years. I especially appreciated having different mentors for the first year to guide me, and then growing into the mentor role myself--you do learn the most when you teach others!
The program also is unique in the opportunity work with multiple hives. Most beekeepers initially keep 1 maybe 2 hives, whereas we experienced up to 7 different colonies over a 2-year period, exponentially increasing our exposure to potential issues a honey bee colony might experience.
As a result of participating in the program, I gained enough experience and confidence to start a successful beehive in a middle school that is still buzzing today. The program connected me with new and existing friends with similar passions, a sense of stewardship for the place I live, and an even deeper reverence for the amazing world we call home. I highly recommend the program!
Lauren Chandrika L, San Francisco
2015-2017 Program graduate
Returning Mentor, 2017-2019:
My participation the beekeeping apprentice program prepared me for having my own hives. The program teaches colony beekeeping inspection skills as well as colony management through different seasons. Having the opportunity to develop hands-on skills with individual attention and mentoring was incredibly valuable. The emphasis on honey bee biology and discussion of different situations within the apiary gave me a well-rounded education that complemented my hands-on experiences. Beekeeping in a group also provided ongoing bonds of support and friendship for which I am grateful.
The 2-year commitment was useful as there is so much to learn about honey bees and colony management, and the scheduled commitment provided consistency. After graduating from the program, I continued my participation for another two years as a “returning mentor.” Through that additional opportunity -- to continue to share with others my knowledge and experiences – further reinforced my knowledge, skills and mentoring abilities.
I recommend the program. It provides a unique learning opportunity that will give you all you need to continue beekeeping with skill and confidence.