Well I didn't get stung and I had a wonderful time. The instructors were undoubtedly knowledgeable and experienced. The talks were predictably dry but my intrinsic interest in the subject kept me from gnawing off my own leg.
But the hands-on session was brilliant. We all went out to some hives and watched as the demonstrator opened them up and took out the frames covered with bees. We passed them around so we all got a chance to handle them. And we saw the honey and pollen stores, and all the stages of the bee lifecycle - eggs, larvae, capped cells containing pupae, and adult workers and drones. We couldn't find the queen but I'm sure we will in a fortnight when I go back for the second part of the course.
So apart from the hands-on part with the hives I think my favourite thing I learned all day was a tip about how to avoid conflicts with your neighbours. You get an (empty) hive and put it in a conspicuous part of your garden for a few weeks. If your neighbours are cool with it, well and good. But if someone comes and complains loudly that they've been stung, you can show them that whatever stung them didn't come from your hive - your hive is empty, see? After that they'll feel so foolish you won't get any more complaints from them after you do get your bees.
I'm dying to get started with my own bees. I'll have to go back to the local association and see if I can get any good second-hand equipment and a nucleus (that's a queen and a few workers, just enough to start a new colony).