Spring Course Wrap-up

Making Money from Honey  
– a beekeeping course taught by Neil Bertram and Ron Miksha

Beekeeping can be fun and profitable.”

The course that Neil and Ron taught on April 9, 2016, was fully subscribed – that means the classroom was full. It was an exhausting day for all of us!  It still amazes me that we covered so much material in one day.  But it was a full day – a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too.

By looking at example bee businesses (case studies), we brought home the idea that there are a lot of ways to make money from bees. These included overviews of a wide range of beekeeping enterprises – from successful single-person bee outfits that make most of their money selling start-up hives and queens in the spring, to huge corporations as large as 90,000 colonies. With facts and figures, we looked at the big variety of bee businesses between these extremes.

Our presentations examined the money required to get started in bees and what’s needed to keep things going year after year. We also looked at handling larger volumes of honey, plus inspections, marketing requirements, and labeling laws.  Our lecture “More than Honey” featured the economics of pollination, queen sales, wax working, and eco-tourism. We ended with a reality-check, recapping the struggles and setbacks most beekeepers encounter along the way.

The instructors also learned from the students. Questions were excellent and provoked side-discussions that brought out interesting points (such as, “Can bees make honey from marijuana and what would that market look like?” and “Where do you get start-up cash to begin in bees?” and a lot more!).

The course was a success. We sold all the spots we could effectively handle and we expect to repeat this course in the autumn of 2016 and possibly offer it in other cities.  Keep following this intermittent blog for up-coming course!


Author: Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

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