Training Yards

Welcome to the BONS Training Yards


So you have attended classes, built your equipment, obtained your bees and started your colonies. Are you a little uncertain of the next steps? Need some hands on guidance?

BONS runs two hive management mentoring sites.  Here, your questions can be answered, hive maintenance experience can be gained, observations can be discussed and the seasonal tasks reviewed, all with an experienced beekeeper.     

Requirements: You will need your own protective equipment and time to join the instructors at the BONS training sites. A desire to become a more knowledgeable beekeeper is recommended. There is no cost to BONS club members.

Where? Two training sites are available; Clermont Farm, east of Berryville, Virginia, and Belle Grove, south of Middletown, Virginia. 

Who is invited? Everyone is welcome, especially less experienced beekeepers or anyone interested in learning more about beekeeping. Contact will be through email, as listed below.

Why? Keeping bees is a complicated process. Hands on mentoring for the new beekeeper is the best way to gain the experience needed to make beekeeping a lifetime of incredible learning. The training sites are operated by BONS beekeepers who have many years of experience, can answer your questions, and help you find solutions that work for your bees.

>>>  To schedule time at the Berryville Apiary

Contact Branson McKay

Clermont Farm, 801 East Main Street, Berryville, VA

>>> To schedule time at the Middletown Apiary, 

Contact Charlie Brown

Belle Grove, 336 Belle Grove Road, Middletown, VA

Mission Statement

The mission of the Beekeepers of the Northern Shenandoah (BONS) training apiaries is to complement existing BONS educational programs by providing a hands-on training environment for beekeepers of all experience levels.

Terms & Definitions

Lead Beekeeper – The BONS member responsible for the management and operation of the training hives including: scheduling and leading training activities; maintaining the bee yard; and the care and management of all training hives.  The Lead Beekeeper is the primary liaison and coordinator among BONS, the Site Manager, and beekeepers.  The Lead Beekeeper may designate other beekeepers as necessary.

Site – Geographic location of the training apiary.

Site Manager – The individual or organization that owns and/or manages the Site hosting the training apiary; the training apiary is a joint venture between the Site Manager, the lead Beekeeper, and BONS.

Bee Hives – Commercially available, movable frame bee hives i.e. modern wooden Langstroth hives. Other hive types such as top-bar hives are permissible at the discretion of the Lead Beekeeper and Site Manager.

Club Hives – Two (2) bee hives and packages of bees provided by BONS to establish the training apiary at the Site.

Responsibilities, Management and Procedures

Site Selection & Management –As the training apiary is hosted on the property of the Site Manager every effort should be taken to minimize the impact of the training yard on the Site.

  • The training apiary will be placed in an area that is mutually agreed to by the Lead Beekeeper and the Site Manager and in such a location that normal beekeeping activities will not interfere with or be impacted by other Site activities.
  • The Site is not open to the unsupervised general public.
  • The Lead Beekeeper and/or designee shall have access to the Site at any time and without prior approval or required notification to the Site Manager.
  • The Site shall have signage consistent with the requirements of Virginia State code and shall be provided by BONS.
  • The Lead Beekeeper is responsible for the physical maintenance of the training yard including grass trimming, hive repair, and trash removal.

Training Apiary Management – All training and beekeeping activities shall be conducted in accordance with Code of Virginia, Beekeeping Regulations, Chapter 44, Sections 3.2-4400 through 3.2-4414 and generally accepted beekeeping practices.

  • Lead Beekeeper or designee will conduct hive inspections not less than once per month during hive management season (March – November).
  • The State Apiarist shall inspect the bee hives at the training apiary not less than once per year.
  • All hives will be set on supporting hive stands and not less than 8 inches above the ground.
  • A written record of beekeeping activities completed during each visit will be maintained.
  • Mites, pests, and other diseases shall be controlled as necessary using generally accepted integrated pest management (IPM) methods and with legally approved products following all label instructions.
  • Bees shall be fed as necessary to maintain appropriate food stores and pollen levels.
  • The training apiary may be expanded at the discretion of the Lead Beekeeper and with the approval of the Site Manager.
  • Nucs and splits from the two original club hives will be used to replace dead hives at the training apiary; queen bees are to be replaced as required to maintain viable hives.
  • Honey extraction will be at the sole discretion of the Lead Beekeeper; extracted honey will be allocated by the Lead Beekeeper.
  • The Lead Beekeeper is responsible for providing the necessary supplies to maintain the club hives, for example sugar, pollen substitute, mite treatment, material for hive repairs, replacement frames, foundation, and replacement queens.
  • Proceeds from the sale of nucs shall first be allocated to reimburse the Lead Beekeeper for costs incurred in maintaining the club hives.

Training Activities

  • The Lead Beekeeper is responsible for creating the training schedule and communicating scheduling information to the Site Manager and involved beekeepers.
  • The Lead Beekeeper is responsible for overseeing beekeeper activities and should ensure that all activities are consistent with generally accepted beekeeping practices.
  • Training subjects should be consistent with the experience level and interests of the participating beekeepers.
  • Club hives may be used for training by other BONS beekeepers with prior approval and scheduling by the Lead Beekeeper.