Beekeeping Tools Photo by Shelia Kirven

Workshop attendees had the chance to view all the tools needed for beekeeping.

Attendees all abuzz after beekeeping workshop

By Shelia Kirven
February 1, 2024

A full-day beekeeping workshop was held on January 6, 2024, at the Choctaw Nation Community Center in Durant. The free event, sponsored by the Choctaw Nation Environmental Compliance Department in cooperation with an EPA cooperative agreement, was open to the public and drew a crowd of 108 eager and excited attendees.

Madill, Oklahoma, beekeeper Pat Tickel displayed supplies and equipment, discussed beginning steps, and the health and safety of bees, along with how to construct your own bee house.

Tickel has worked with bees for around 15 years and currently has around 40 hives. He said it all started when he heard about a swarm of bees entering a cinder block and decided he wanted to capture them. His father had beehives when he was growing up after Tickel’s asthmatic brother’s doctor told his parents to give him local honey.

Tickel was very happy with the turnout at the Durant class. “I have never had a class that large and people so engaged,” said Tickel. “It was very gratifying to see that kind of response for what the Tribe was offering.”

He advised how to begin working with bees.

Tia Haislip
Photo by Shelia Kirven

Tia Haislip, age four, attended the class with her family, active beekeepers. They learned about the workshop through a Mead, OK., beekeepers' group. Tia was busy as a bee working with magnetic blocks while Mom and Dad caught up on information.

“You need goals, obviously. And if you are going to set those goals, be realistic with them,” Tickel said. “I always tell people it’s best to start small. Learn all you can, see how it goes and grow as your experience allows you to.”

Sarah Garrett, a tribal member from Bokchito, Oklahoma, found out about the class on Facebook. She said her husband made her a deal. If she attended the class and cared for their bees, he would buy her the supplies.

According to Garrett, she’s taking him up on that deal and learning all she can. She plans to get started in the spring.

So, what is all the buzz about bees anyway?

Bees are incredible creatures, and beekeeping is a great outdoor hobby that pays off in sweet, organic goodness. You can reap the benefits of a healthy product and know you are playing a part in helping bees have a safe place to live and work, helping local pollination and improving the environment.

Before you decide if beekeeping is right for you, remember that it can be costly to purchase equipment and protective gear, and you need to be able to dedicate the necessary time.

According to The American Bee Journal (July 2020), the best way to learn beekeeping is “through hands-on experience under the guidance of a knowledgeable mentor.”

If you don’t plan to become a beekeeper yourself, learning about the amazing world of bees is fascinating. Countless books, magazines, podcasts, websites, social media pages, classes, and societies exist. Great places to begin researching are the American Bee Federation, Oklahoma State Beekeepers Association and Oklahoma Department of Agriculture for bee registration and laws .

If you find yourself “bee-ing” excited about working with bees, check into one of the upcoming workshops sponsored by the Tribe. The next workshop will be on February 24, 2024 at the Poteau Choctaw Community Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Workshops are free and open to the public.