When Michaela Slagle was 10 years old, her father came home one day with the idea of the family becoming beekeepers, an idea she said she was not exactly fond of.
“I was terrified of bees and I begged my father not to do it,” Slagle said.
She said her father helped her through her fear of the small, flying creatures by taking her to a beekeeping course, known as bee school, sponsored by the Washington County Beekeepers Association. Bee school is a free set of beekeeping classes where people interested in the craft can gain necessary information on how to get started.
Eight years later, Slagle, now the president of the WCBA, is actively promoting the group’s annual bee school/introduction to beekeeping course.
This year’s bee school will be spread out over three days, Thursday-Saturday, at Boones Creek Christian Church, 305 Christian Church Road in Gray. Thursday and Friday sessions will start at 7 p.m. and the Saturday class will start at 9 a.m.
Slagle said the classes will be very basic beekeeping tutorials, and said Thursday night the group’s “Vice President ... Bob Calkins is actually going to speak on the biology of bees and we’re going to have people come in and talk about hive location and different kinds of flowers that bees work around here, along with how to put hives together. Friday night, we’re going to talk about how to work a beehive and hopefully ... we’re going to have the extension agent come and talk about different grants through the state of Tennessee that beekeepers can receive.”
She said Saturday morning bee school participants will have a chance to construct and assemble their own hive, as association helpers will be scattered around the area to help newer beekeepers put each part together.
Slagle, a freshman at Northeast State Community College studying small-business management, said she has definitely caught the beekeeping bug and said she’s excited to meet the new people at the event and introduce them to the niche hobby.
“I’m really excited about getting to meet a new variety of people,” she said. “(Bee school is) going to provide an opportunity for people who have always wanted to ... get into beekeeping. Right now with the green movement, I feel like more people want to know where their food comes from. If you’re looking to figure out where your food’s coming from and what’s pollinating your food, this would be a great place to start.”
Slagle said the school will have door prizes made up of donations from local bee supply stores, as well as educational posters, catalogues and brochures for newcomers to glance at and pick up.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” she said. “We also have monthly meetings on the first Tuesday of every month at 7:30 (p.m.) at Boones Creek Christian Church.”
For more information, visit the Washington County Beekeepers Association’s website at https://sites.google.com/a/wcbeekeepers.org/public/.