Government sweetens the pot for program

New Kwantlen Polytechnic University beekeeping program begins January 2016

There was a buzz in the air on the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Langley campus last week, as Langley MP Mark Warawa was in town to announce that the federal government will provide $140,000 in funding through the Western Diversification Program.

The money will be used to help establish a new commercial beekeeping program at the university.

“Our government’s top priority is the economy,” Warawa said in making the announcement on April 10.

“More jobs equal a stronger economy, which is the goal for us.”

Honeybee pollination in B.C. is responsible for more than $200 million per year in agricultural production, with $65 million coming from the pollination-dependent blueberry industry.

Based on three hives per acre, the province’s 20,000 acres of blueberry farms alone require 60,000 bee colonies for pollination. With only 45,000 commercial bee colonies in B.C., these farms import colonies from Alberta to meet demand. The new KPU program begins in January and the first class is expected to have 16 students. But more than 90 potential applicants have requested more information on the program, said Dr. Salvador Ferreras, KPU’s provost and vice-president of academics.

“Agriculture is very close to the heart of the Township and the neighbouring committees,” he said.

“As agriculture grows, we need beekeeping.”

The students will complete 350 hours of instruction as well as 300 mentored hours of beekeeping, plus a five-month paid practicum.

Students in the KPU program will receive instruction in beehive care, bee disease management, bee botany, integrated pest management, livestock production and colony management, food safety, processing, packaging and marketing, and bee business planning, management and growth.

The first batch of students will complete their studies in November 2016.

After the first three years, the program is expected to grow to 24 students.

The program was announced in March with $350,000 in funding from the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture through programs delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C.

The idea was brought forward by John Gibeau, the president of the Honeybee Centre in Cloverdale. He helped develop the program outline and will be part of the advisory committee creating the curriculum.

He has 45 years experience as a beekeeper.

“This program will not only satisfy the need for local small scale family farms … but it will also satisfy this tremendous demand for local honey,” he said.

“And that demand is all over the world.”

Gibeau estimates the profession can bring a family revenue about $100,000 a year until retirement.

“There is absolutely no doubt there is a need for this program,” added Jim Pelton, KPU’s executive director of continuing and professional studies.

“Our aim is to bolster B.C.’s beekeeping industry by providing the training that will allow our students to meet the province’s growing pollination demands.”

“We are going to produce the entrepreneurs and managers we need,” Pelton said.

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.

• About one-third of annual global food production is derived from crops which benefit from pollinators, much of which is accomplished by honeybees.

• Some fruits do not develop without pollination from honeybees. Other fruits may develop but will be of poorer quality and in smaller amounts.

Gary Ahuja/Langley Times

Cloverdale Honeybee Centre president John Gibeau is playing a big role in the new beekeeping program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. He has 45 years experience with beekeeping.

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP issue arrest warrant for suspect in Sheraton hotel stabbing

Police say Malcolm Drydgen faces an aggravated assault charge, and it’s believed he’s in the Lower Mainland or Alberta

ELECTION QUESTIONS: Is Surrey safer than it was four years ago?

Who has the best plan to fight crime in Surrey? That’s for voters to decide on Oct.20

LETTER: We are looking to wrong source for public safety in Surrey

We really need to ask how we might defund police and properly fund community resources

Man wanted in connection with attack on taxi driver in Surrey

Assault happened Aug. 8 in the 13200-block of 105A Ave.

Cessford says Delta not ready for legal cannabis

Mayoral candidate and former police chief says public consultation is needed to make civic policies

VIDEO: Rare close encounter with whale pod spotted off B.C. waters

Pod of southern resident orca whales breach within arms length of whale watchers

Man faces 8 charges after Vancouver carjacking, pepper-spray attacks

Jesse William Swain has been charged with assault with a weapon, robbery and dangerous driving

Sister of plane crash victim that went missing in B.C. starting support network

Tammy Neron wants to help families who are searching for missing people

‘Hello, 911? There’s a horse in my living room’

Sproat Lake firefighters called to ‘rescue’ quarter-horse from Alberni Valley house

Assault charge withdrawn vs. ex-Jays pitcher Roberto Osuna

Former Toronto player agrees to peace bond

UPDATED: Bill Cosby gets 3-10 years in prison for sexual assault

Judge also declared the disgraced comedian a ‘sexually violent predator’

Vancouver Whitecaps release head coach Carl Robinson

Assistant coach Martyn Pert and goalkeeper coach Stewart Kerr are also out

B.C. making progress on senior care staffing, Adrian Dix says

Minister aims to meet residential care provincial standard by 2021

More cameras, police coming after Marissa Shen killed in Burnaby park

Call boxes and increased patrols are also among the $1M in the city’s security measures

Most Read