It’s a honey of a career. If you’ve ever wondered about beekeeping, Kwantlen Polytechnic University has an opportunity that might have you buzzing.
Program instructors and current students of KPU’s new commercial beekeeping program are hosting an information session in Cloverdale.
The 11-month program was introduced last January, with the first stream of students graduating in December with the skills to work in, manage and grow existing beekeeping operations – or establish and grow their own businesses of up to 300 hives, which provides a family income.
“There has been a shortage of beekeepers and honeybees in B.C. for over a decade,” says program instructor John Gibeau, president of the Honeybee Centre, left.
“Each year, literally thousands of beehives are imported from Alberta to satisfy demands for blueberry pollination in the Fraser Valley alone.”
The program couldn’t be timelier. Pollination-dependent crops comprise an increasing portion of the B.C. agricultural landscape, with honeybee pollination already responsible for more than $200 million per year in agricultural production.
Thanks to an increasing consumer demand for locally-grown food, it’s a sector that’s poised for growth – directly through honey production, and more indirectly by increasing crop yield through pollination services, Gibeau said.
He estimates the local market could consume up to 50 times more than what is currently produced.
Graduates of KPU’s commercial beekeeping program will have the skills to start their own businesses, which could include pollination services, honey production and apitherapy services.
Students receive instruction in colony care and management, bee botany, integrated pest and disease management, queen rearing, processing, packaging and marketing – and bee business planning, management and growth.
When she graduates, Surrey’s Christine Pawsey, a 51-year-old student, hopes to support her family through commercial beekeeping.
“I realized it (beekeeping) could be a career, not just a hobby,” she said.
Pawsey’s already got a head start; she’s acquired 20 hives during her studies, and is being mentored by the instructor.
Casey Albers, 22, was also attracted to the program because it opened up the possibility of owning her own business. She also wants to use her new knowledge to travel the world, educating people on honeybees and how they’re impacted by humans.
“Through our everyday actions, we affect them and the ever-changing environment we live in,” she said.
The information session is Thursday, Aug. 11 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Honeybee Centre, 7480 176 Street, Surrey. The event will include a bee beard demonstration.
Register at kpu.ca/cps/commercial-beekeeping/info-session. For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-599-2996.