Years ago, when Master Beekeeper Randall Austin’s garden struggled, his friend suggested keeping honeybees to pollinate the plants. Austin said he dismissed the idea because he did not want to get stung.
In 2005, Austin said he talked himself into getting bees and got involved with the Orange County Beekeepers Association.
He now leads beekeeping classes for beginners on Tuesday nights in Hillsborough.
Tuesday’s class was the second of nine, so Austin discussed the equipment needed to start a hive and explained how to put one together.
The course also offers two field days: one to assemble equipment and one in the bee yard.
To begin, Austin demonstrated how to wear a veil to protect the face and neck from getting stung.
He said participants could purchase full bee suits if they wanted, but said honeybees do not usually try to sting the torso or the legs.
“I only keep sweet bees,” Austin said. “I have had bees that have sold their souls to the devil, so I have had to use a full suit.”
Austin showed the class how to assemble a hive, which began with a base at least 14 inches tall, to protect the bees from skunks.