Ron Miksha is a geophysicist who also does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and is based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He has written two books, dozens of magazine and journal articles, and complements his first book, Bad Beekeeping, with a popular blog at www.badbeekeepingblog.com. Ron wrote his most recent book, The Mountain Mystery, for everyone who has looked at a mountain and wondered what miracles of nature set it upon the landscape. For more about Ron, including some cool pictures taken when he was a teenager, please check Ron's site: miksha.com.
It’s July. Beekeeping time in the north. During the past few weeks, I’ve been reviewing our course notes, re-writing the Making Money from Honey guide, and making some tweaks to our program.
Not much needs changed. Our feedback forms from the April class were very positive. However, one person suggested that we spent too much time reviewing bee equipment. I think that’s a fair comment. I spoke for almost an hour on the types of equipment on the market, their various pros and cons, and the economic impact of selecting the wrong style of hive for your area. In the equipment lecture, I also talked about something that usually goes unspoken – even good beekeepers eventually die. Or get tired of bees. Or become allergic to stings. Or become too weak to lift honey supers. When you buy your first boxes or expand your outfit, you have to consider the type of equipment that will sell best when it’s time for it to move on to new hands. As you can see, between expansion and death, there is a lot to cover in the bee equipment section – but I’ll condense it into half an hour at our autumn offering.
While I’ve been working on course revisions, my teaching partner (Neil Bertram) has been busy with his bees. It has turned into a honey of a year here in Alberta, Canada, with a bumper crop filling most beekeepers’ shops. Neil took a short break (if you can call it a break) and opened his honey house and apiaries to a tour that was made possible by the Calgary and District Beekeepers‘ summer program called Saturday at the Hive. You can see something about that event here.
Keep following this site for our announcements for our fall courses, coming up in a few months!
The Fall 2016 session of Making Money from Honey is scheduled for Saturday, November 19.
The Making Money from Honey course is planning an autumn offering. The presenters are already looking at dates and places and we are planning to run our program outside the Calgary area – possibly in Red Deer, Edmonton, Kelowna, and Saskatoon. (For our international readers, those are cities in western Canada.) Taking the program on the road will be both fun and challenging.
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!
Our one-day course on Saturday, April 9, 2016, shows how beekeeping may help you earn a little extra cash while having fun with all aspects of beekeeping. It’s especially designed to help you avoid expensive beekeeping mistakes. Keeping bees for profit is possible, especially in Alberta.
Course Outline 9:00-9:30 Sign in, get your name tag, welcome & introductions 9:30-10:30 Case Studies: we examine 12 very different bee farms 10:30-12:00 Practical Stuff: Expanding the outfit; handling bulk
honey; finding & keeping outyards; training 12:00-12:30 Lunch Break: pizza will be served, but please bring
anything you’d like for your own needs/wishes 12:30-1:00 Equipment: Langstroth v the world; comb honey 1:00-2:00 Rules: Organic; Labels; CFIA; Farmer Status; Liability 2:00-2:30 Non-Honey Income: pollination; bee sales; wax, etc. 2:30-3:40 Money: future honey prices; beekeeping disasters 3:40-4:00 Our wrap-up and a Q&A session 4:00 Any lingering concerns and your long-term plans
Our one-day course on Saturday, November 19, 2016, shows how beekeeping may help you earn a little extra cash while having fun with all aspects of beekeeping. It’s designed to help you avoid expensive beekeeping mistakes. Keeping bees for profit is possible, especially in Alberta.
You’ll learn about
– organic growth from backyard to sideliner to commercial;
– equipment choices and shop/honey house considerations;
– finances, projections, expectations, difficulties, setbacks, and success;
– how beekeeping performed in the past and what the future may bring;
– handling and marketing your products;
– case histories of good and bad beekeeping businesses;
– the beekeeper personality and lifestyle.
How do people make money keeping bees?
You’ll find out with Making Money from Honey
Saturday, November 19, 2016: 9 am to 4:30 pm