The Western Economic Diversification Fund will contribute $140,000 toward a new commercial beekeeping program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU).
“Honeybee pollination is responsible for $200 million per year in agricultural production in B.C.,” said Langley MP Mark Warawa, who announced the funding at KPU’s Langley campus. “We have to have honeybees, or things don’t work.”
Pollination by honeybees is vital to the existence of many B.C. crops and paid pollination services are increasingly in demand. KPU’s program will help meet this demand and will provide access for students to enter the beekeeping industry.
KPU will introduce B.C.’s first commercial beekeeping program in January, and by November 2016, graduates will have the skills to work in, manage and grow existing beekeeping operations or establish and grow their own diversified cottage beekeeping business of up to 300 hives.
“Our polytechnic mandate joins the mind and the matter, the skills to do, with the know-how to make it happen,” noted Dr. Sal Ferreras, KPU’s provost and vice-president academic.
While in the program, students will be responsible for maintaining a number of hives and will gain practical experience with the business of beekeeping by negotiating their own pollination contracts and selling their own honey. Over the full program, students will receive 350 hours of instruction and 300 hours of mentored bee care.
“There is no doubt a need for this program,” said Jim Pelton, KPU’s executive director of continuing and professional studies. “There’s a shortage of hives as it is – we are 35,000 hives short in B.C.”
John Gibeau, president of the Honeybee Centre in Cloverdale, helped develop the program outline and will be part of the advisory committee of apiculture industry partners who are guiding curriculum development in preparation for the first student cohort.
He said KPU’s program will additionally enhance local food security through the development of local, small-scale agriculture operations.