Free course in beekeeping offered for Iowa teens

DES MOINES — A veteran central Iowa beekeeper will offer a free, online course in beekeeping starting next month for Iowa youth between the ages of 13 and 16.

Julia McGuire heads the Des Moines Backyard Beekeepers and she has ten hives in Madison County. McGuire says the live course in Beekeeping 101 will start January 30th, teaching all about these important pollinators and how to care for them.

“We’ll cover basic bee biology, and it goes through site location for your beehive, the confluence of the beehive,” McGuire says, “and then we spend a lot of time learning how to work the bees once they arrive in April.”

McGuire has kept bees since 2011 and has taught beekeeping for 11 years. The course will run every Tuesday for six weeks.

“There’s also a couple opportunities where we will go and meet in person, so we can work with bees all together,” McGuire says, “so I think a lot of the success in beekeeping is that hands-on work that you might get with a mentor.”

For many, beekeeping is a hobby, but McGuire says it can also become a profitable business. She sells honey from her hives, but says there’s another important component to beekeeping — saving swarms.

“I get a lot of swarm calls every April and May from people who have a swarm of bees, or bees actually living and have been in the side of their house or whatever for years,” McGuire says. “I get a lot of phone calls like that. There’s just more demand than there is supply of people who can go get those.”

She estimates it may cost around $500 to start a basic hive. In addition to the free Beekeeping 101 course, there’s a youth bee camp planned for May of 2024. The deadline to sign up for the course is December 31st at: