Turns out your mom was right: That buzzing little honeybee is a lot more scared of you than you are of it.
“Honeybees lose their life when they sting, so they’re not particularly anxious to do that. Stay calm around them, and they won’t sting you — probably,” says expert apiarist Vincent Aloyo, who’s been beekeeping since 1966.
Aloyo is teaching a course in beekeeping through Temple University’s noncredit program. The class, which starts tomorrow evening, is held at the school’s Ambler campus, where Aloyo keeps three beehives in the on-site arboretum.
Students will have an opportunity to get hands on with the hives — though not right away. First they’ll learn where to get bees, what equipment to buy, how to maintain a new colony and, of course, how to avoid getting covered in stings (use smoke to distract the “guard bees”). Aspiring backyard beekeepers will leave the course with the know-how to start their own hive.
Aloyo also devotes class time to the “mind-boggling” life of the honeybee.
“They have very small brains, but they’re very intelligent,” Aloyo says, explaining that a honeybee will leave the hive at about three weeks old, fly up to a couple of miles away to pollinate the neighborhood, then navigate its way back home.
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A follow-up course covering honey harvesting and hive disease control starts in April.
A tip that’s buzz-worthy
“Don’t wear fuzzy clothing, wool or black around bees,” Aloyo advises. “Their natural enemies are black bears and skunks, and you don’t want to get mistaken for one of those.”
Temple’s noncredit program includes a long list of personal enrichment and professional development classes at its Center City, Ambler and Fort Washington campuses, including several bee-less courses that will still get you outside.
“For gardeners, we have courses on creating a vegetable garden, on getting your garden ready for spring,” says program director Rhonda Geyer. “Then we have a variety of courses in the arts: literature and language, interior design, meeting planning, digital photography. It’s a wide range.”