Hobby Beekeeper Resources

So, you want to be an Alberta beekeeper?

Keeping honey bees isn’t just a business, it’s a way of life.

These days, many people find themselves drawn to the idea of beekeeping and wonder how to get started. Many of the Alberta Beekeepers Commission’s producers – beekeepers with 100 or more hives under management – got their start as a beekeeping hobbyist.

Here are a few of the things you may want to know if you’re thinking of becoming an Alberta beekeeper.

1.  All beekeepers must register their hives and follow regulations.

Albertans who keep honey bees – regardless of the scale of their operation – are required to register annually with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, by June 30th of each year. Registration is free. The registration form can be found at this link.

 Beekeeper Registration Form

There may be other regulations in your area for beekeeping, as municipal and provincial governments have differing regulations or bylaws that pertain to beekeeping for different areas of the province. For example, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry regulates the distribution of honey through farmer’s markets and farm gate sales.

Read about the Alberta Bee Act and related regulations here:
Alberta Bee Act and Related Regulations.

2. Connect with a community of beekeepers passionate about bees, honey and the environment.

Today in Alberta, commercial honey producers manage 25 billion bees in nearly 300,000 colonies, and produce more than 40 million pounds of pure honey each year. Alberta is the #1 honey-producing province in Canada.

While many people love the bees’ honey, the impact of honey bee activity is far-reaching. For those who love apples, cranberries, asparagus, broccoli, and more, thank a honey bee! The bee helps transfer pollen from the male part of the flower to the female part of the flower, a critical process that allows plants to grow.

Bees pollinate billions of wild and cultivated plants each year. In one example, more than 6 million acres’ worth of canola crops in Alberta depend on pollination. So, Alberta honey bees – along with other pollinators – ultimately make Canada’s $20 billion canola industry possible.

Alberta’s beekeepers can take pride in knowing that they are doing their part – not only creating one of nature’s sweetest foods, but in helping our province’s plants and flowers grow and thrive.

3. Get more information online or take a course.

Like any business, beekeeping requires specialized information, awareness of regulations and a strong foundation of knowledge. Whether you’re thinking of dipping your toe into beekeeping as a hobby, or starting your own commercial operation, there’s lots of information available.

The Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Apiculture website is a great place to start to get information on business management, bee-related publications and regulatory information:

The Canadian Honey Council has a variety of handbooks on their website for beginning beekeepers or those with a more advanced beekeeping business: http://honeycouncil.ca/beekeepers-handbook

A forage planting guide for honey bees in Canada directed at farmers, land managers and gardeners is published by Pollinator Partnership Canada and can be found here: http://www.flowerscanadagrowers.com/uploads/2017/04/planting%20guide%20-%20final%20(1).pdf.

Several organizations offer courses on beekeeping, including:

Upcoming Beekeepers Courses

Reviewing beekeeping information online can help you gain a better understanding of the complexity of bees and the many joys of beekeeping. You can also visit Alberta Beekeepers Commission’s Producer Resources section on this website and/or our research and development section for more information.