Introduction to Beekeeping class brings buzz to Agriplex

Alabama Beekeepers Association President Phillip Garrison shows the various levels of a built hive you can make for beekeeping. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The North Alabama Agriplex hosted a special guest, Alabama Beekeepers Association President Phillip Garrison, Thursday evening for an introduction to beekeeping class, featuring plenty of knowledge and secret tips for those interested.

“Honey does not ruin unless it comes in contact with water. Then it will sour,” said Garrison. “I have honey I harvested with my dad that’s 20 years old!”

Garrison also shared these tips:

  • When using a smoker, to keep it lit use pine straw, cedar shavings and cotton gin trash. It will burn for six hours. You want a cool smoke, not a hot smoke, because hot smoke can singe the honeybees’ wings.
  • Using a bee suit can protect your eyes from bee stings but can be very hot to wear during the warmer months, so be sure to stay well hydrated and keep a lot of liquids with you when wearing one!
  • Be wary of what ant killer bait you use to keep fire ants out of the hive. Some bait may have sweeteners and will attract the bees.
  • If you use insecticide, do not use in mist form; instead put heavy droplets around the outside of the hive.
  • If you put your hive in complete shade, it’ll get moldy.
  • Hives need a lot of sunlight. It’s recommended to face the hive’s entrance towards the sunrise or east to southeast, as it will encourage the bees to “wake up” and start working earlier.
  • You can buy bees to make honey, but the best honey comes from “wild bees,” or bees out in the woods. You find wild bees by finding swarms (which are tricky to catch).
  • If you buy bees, you’ll need to feed them, or they will die. Garrison said, “If they’re growing good, they’ll empty a quart (of sugar water) a day.”


After the lesson, those in attendance built a large hive together with Garrison. The hive was then given to one lucky attendee through a drawing.

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