Commercial beekeeping: learn what all the buzz is about at KPU

Wed, Jul 27, 2016

Surrey, B.C. – What’s all the buzz about beekeeping?

Find out for yourself, at the next information session for Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) new commercial beekeeping program. The next information session will also exhibit an exclusive bee beard demonstration with the program instructor and one of our current students.

The program was introduced in January 2016, and by December, current students will graduate from the 11-month program with the skills to work in, manage and grow existing beekeeping operations or establish and grow their own diversified commercial beekeeping business of up to 300 hives, earning sufficient income to support a family.

“There has been a shortage of beekeepers and honeybees in B.C. for over a decade,” said program instructor John Gibeau, president of Cloverdale’s Honeybee Centre. “Each year, literally thousands of beehives are imported from Alberta to satisfy demands for blueberry pollination in the Fraser Valley alone.”

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.

“There is an ever-increasing desire for local food, both in terms of healthy eating and to enhance regional food security,” he explains. “Beekeepers contribute to this demand directly through honey production and indirectly through increased crop yield from pollination services.” Gibeau estimates that 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 establish and grow their own diversified beekeeping business that could include pollination services, honey production and apitherapy services.

Gibeau applied his more than 45 years’ experience as a beekeeper to help develop the KPU program. Students receive instruction in colony care and management, bee botany, integrated pest and disease management, queen rearing, processing, packaging and marketing products of the hive, and bee business planning, management and growth.

Student Christine Pawsey, 51, of Surrey, is hopeful that upon graduation she’ll be able to support her family through commercial beekeeping. She has already acquired 20 hives while attending KPU and, with beekeeping mentorship from the instructor, will have a head start on her business upon graduation.

“I realized it (beekeeping) could be a career, not just a hobby.”

Student Casey Aelbers, 22, who grew up in North Delta, was attracted to the program by the possibility of owning her own business. But she also wants to use her new knowledge to travel the world educating others about honeybees and how they are impacted by the human population.

“Through our everyday actions, we affect them and the ever-changing environment we live in. I hope to travel throughout North America and overseas learning the different ways bees affect mankind and to master enough of the art of beekeeping in order to teach it and continue educating those interested.”

The next information session for KPU’s new commercial beekeeping program will be held on Thursday, Aug. 11 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Honeybee Centre in Cloverdale, 7480 176th St., Surrey. This event will include an exclusive bee beard demonstration.

Please register at For more information, please contact program co-ordinator Alyssa Purse at or 604-599-2996.

A photo of student Casey Aelbers, second from left, is available for download from Flickr.

Bee facts

  • Honeybees play a critical role in the production of many crops, representing a value of over $14 billion per year for Canada and the U.S.
  • Bee health is influenced by weather; pests and diseases; and the effects of management tools and practices across agricultural sectors.
  • Approximately one-third of annual global food production is derived from crops which benefit from pollinators, much of which is accomplished by honeybees.
  • Up to 80 per cent of the world’s major crop species benefit from insect pollination, including the production of bee-pollinated seed crops used to produce forage for animals that supply us with meat and dairy products.
  • Some fruits do not develop without pollination from honeybees. Other fruits may develop but will be of poorer quality and in smaller amounts.
  • Honeybees produce honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and beeswax, all of which are used by people for nutrition, to bolster the immune system, to treat ailments, in skin care and general healing.
  • Propolis has natural anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Humans use it to treat skin conditions, while bees use it to seal small unwanted openings in their hive.
  • Queen bees normally live between one and four years; they consume royal jelly provided by worker bees. Without a queen bee, a colony will die.
  • Bees do not hibernate but cluster for warmth and remain active all winter.
  • Apitherapy refers to the medicinal use of honeybee products.

About Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Kwantlen Polytechnic University has served the Metro Vancouver region since 1981, and has opened doors to success for more than 200,000 learners. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs in business, liberal arts, design, health, science and horticulture, trades and technology, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 120 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates, citations and apprenticeships. Learn more at

Media contact:
Corry Anderson-Fennell
Manager, Media and Communications
t: 604.599.2840
c: 604.828.5232

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