Beekeeping series

Susan Knilans is our apicultrice, teaching our bee classes at Colibri Gardens. Susan is a Natural Beekeeper, NYT bestselling author, and international teacher with a huge heart for bees. Dedicated to beekeeping styles that put the bees' needs first, Susan's classes are full of warmth, humor, and good bee science. Her niche is Skeps, and all of her bees are kept in woven hives of her making.

Susan and her bee colleague Jacqueline Freeman are the founders of the local Camas nonprofit, Preservation Beekeeping Council. Their bee club  is one of very few in the country teaching natural, treatment free methods. Students have come from all over the world to learn from Susan and Jacqueline, and their classes fill up quickly.

Susan Knilans

Jacqueline Freeman

2 Day Beginner Beekeeping Workshop

Are you new to bees? Have you recently gotten bees and realize there is more to them than meets the eye? Or are you maybe just pondering the idea of keeping bees? Our Beginner Beekeeping Workshop is appropriate for any level of bee-ing.

Preservation beekeeping is our method of bee care that places the well-being of bees above the desire for maximum honey production. Our first priority is to see our bees survive and thrive! Following the ten recommendations of Entomologist Thomas Seeley in our management approach, we advocate a much more “hands-off, eyes-on” style with our hives.

We find this approach much gentler on our bees and also much simpler for the beekeeper. While there is a lot to learn, the actual “management” is quite easy. We feel this type of beekeeping or guardianship is the best approach for helping bees to survive and thrive, and increasingly the science is bearing us out.


In this class we will cover:


  • Preservation Beeping - Explore more deeply the precepts of Preservation Beekeeping: Why we put bees first.

  • The Bee Family - Learn the roles of all the colony members, hive structure, and about the many purposes bees have.

  • Tending Your Bees - How do you safely, gently wrangle a box filled with 50,000 bees? You'll learn that and more.

  • The Right Hive in the Right Place - We'll discuss slope, weather, wind, exposure, height, predators, shade, rain protection, and water sources for your bees.

If you are attending from out of the area, make an event out of it! Colibri Gardens has room and board accommodations, and is a beautiful, magical place to stay! Contact us below for prices and options.

To sign-up for this class please contact Susan Knilans at:

For additional information on this class and others or on the Camas Preservation Beekeeping Council please (CLICK HERE)

Cost: $175

Class runs from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm

Next available class dates:  Sat October 5th  & Sun October 6th 

The four classes listed above are the core of our beginner series. We also offer the classes below at different times of the season: 
Swarms! Bring Home the bees

This fun and information-packed class is being taught by my bee teacher/mentor Jacqueline Freeman. Bees repopulate themselves by swarming. While about half the hive stays behind, the old queen and thousands of bees fly out in the spring to seek a new home. These are the strong survivor bees you seek to populate your hive. Spend a fascinating day learning about the magic of the swarm, and how to catch a swarm easily and safely. Join local swarm lists and learn resources for finding local bees.

Cost: $45

Class runs from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm

Next available class dates:  Sat March 30th

Gardening for Bees

Learn basic rules for creating bee gardens. Our Master Gardener Pixie LaPlante teaches this informative and lively class. We’ll share what to plant and how to plant it so bees have plenty to eat in each season. Learn how to build your own inexpensive “pollinator hotels” that house our unsung but vital native pollinators. Sweat bees, mason bees, leaf-cutter bees, wool-carder bees, hover bees: The more bee-dazzled with honeybees you become, the more you will notice all the other bee visitors to your yard and garden. Learn how to steward all of them.

Gifts from the Hive

Wax, honey, propolis, and healing are all gifts of a beehive, gifts meant to be used respectfully and sustainably. This class will be filled with hands-on fun! Learn to how to extract honey, make mead, and how to save and use beeswax to create items from furniture polish to candles. We’ll show how to collect propolis—a resin-based substance bees use for healing. Taste, smell, and play with bee stuff!


Lara or Derek

​Tel: 360-335-9743​


Colibri Gardens

1222 Belle Center Road

Washougal, WA 98671