News Archives: Commercial Beekeeping Program - Unique in Canada!
Released: Monday, October 24th, 2011
A new certificate program at GPRC Fairview will be the first beekeeping vocational program in Canada for the education and training of commercial beekeepers. The program, which is now filling spaces for a January 2012 launch, will prepare students for employment such as apiary assistants and field supervisors with commercial beekeeping operations, technicians with government agriculture departments, and self-employment as beekeepers.
Previously, a beekeeping course was offered at Fairview College, and a total of 271 graduates completed the program between 1981 and 1999. Industry interest and support for the renewal of a beekeeping program has provided this opportunity for GPRC to develop a program which will meet the future needs of industry and international growth in the bee/honey industry. The program is welcomed by industry and researchers alike.
"The program will provide needed training for those wishing to pursue a career in this industry and will provide an avenue for a new generation of producers to enter the industry,� says Steve Pernal, Officer-in-Charge and Research Scientist AAFC at Beaverlodge Research Farm. �Together with the recently announced National Honey Bee Diagnostic Laboratory located in Beaverlodge, and building on existing cooperation with Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, GPRC is positioning itself as a leading player in training and applied research for the honey bee industry."
Rodrigo Mendez, the northwest region representative for Alberta Beekeepers, agrees. "The Alberta Beekeepers Commission is looking forward to the new crops of beekeepers trained by GPRC Fairview. The Beekeeping industry in Alberta and Canada has lacked the ability to formally train new Beekeepers for many years,� says Mendez. �This is a rapidly evolving industry and having this course will give the opportunity for new people with different backgrounds to enter this vibrant industry with new ideas and points of view. This course will re invigorate the industry and keep Alberta Beekeepers at the forefront of beekeeping."
Alberta is the third-largest honey producer in North America, with an estimated $20 Million annual contribution to the economy. The Peace Region, long known for its honey production, is quickly becoming an important knowledge and research base in the field of apiculture. International attention on the issue of bee populations is escalating, and there is urgency to mitigate the negative impact of colony collapse on world food production. �No bees — we don�t eat,� as the researchers put it.
�The launch of the Commercial Beekeeping Certificate Program by GPRC is a significant step forward in the development of a successful and sustainable bee, honey and pollination industry in Canada. Canadian beekeepers will be the recipients of a more knowledgeable workforce to address the many concerns the industry is now facing,� according to Corey Bacon, Chair of the Canadian Honey Council.
�This program not only fills a clearly established need in North America and beyond, but it adds a key component to the work in bee research and diagnostics which is now being initiated in our region,� says Don Gnatiuk, GPRC President and CEO. �I believe that GPRC, through our partnership with Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada and the beekeeping industry in Alberta is poised to establish an apiculture centre of excellence which will be respected throughout the world.�
For more information about the Commercial beekeeping Certificate program at GPRC, contact Chris Laue, Dean of Trades, Agriculture and Environment, or visit gprc.ab.ca/programs.