For a guy who doesn’t get out much, it’s funny how I keep meeting new and prospective beekeepers on the island of Newfoundland who can’t afford to join the Newfoundland and Labrador Beekeeping Association. I also know many excellent beekeepers on the island who, like me, aren’t exactly what you’d call group people. We might have introverted reasons for this, which is totally cool. Maybe we don’t like the madness of crowds. I get that too. Some people just do better on their own. Or maybe there’s just not enough time. Whatever the case may be, don’t fret.
Any of the websites maintained by Rusty Burlew, David Burns, Michael Bush or Randy Oliver should provide more than enough practical information on honey bees and beekeeping to help anyone in Newfoundland get started.
There’s a ton of reading material out there, both online and in print, but The Beekeeper’s Handbook may be the most comprehensive and affordable single-volume guide to beekeeping I’ve ever read, so that might be something worth reading, just to get the ball rolling.
(Note: As with most popular beekeeping books, the price of this book is likely the go way up. I managed to get it for $30, but now it sells at almost double that amount. Beekeeping for Dummies usually sells at an affordable price, though. I don’t have it, but I’ve heard from a number of beekeepers who recommend it.)
The YouTube videos posted by the National Honey Show are world class beekeeping presentations from some of the biggest heavy hitters in the beekeeping world. They may go a bit too deep for absolute beginners, but it probably doesn’t hurt to have them on the radar. The University of Guelph produces more beginner-friendly videos from its beeyards that also might be worth checking out.
Ian Steppler’s beekeeping videos out of Manitoba are exactly the kind of videos I would post if I was a commercial beekeeper. I’ll likely never have the money or the land to keep bees on a commercial level, but if I ever thought about hitting the big time, I’d be all over his videos. Even as a backyard beekeeper, I’ve learned quite a lot from him. The same deal with Bob Binnie’s videos, most which are designed to be instructional.
Due to the province’s sparse population and inconvenient geographical expanse, it’s difficult for prospective beekeepers in Newfoundland to find even the most basic beekeeping workshop, but talking with at least one beekeeper and seeing some bees up close and personal might be the best first step. Locally, the Backyard Farming & Homesteading NL Facebook page is a friendly place to ask people about their beekeeping experiences (and to meet up with other beekeepers). The Bee-L Listserv and the BeeSource forum can also provide some experiential feedback that’s often helpful. There’s no harm is checking out Bee Culture too.
And finally, for the truly desperate, we have my beekeeping videos which, as far as I know, are the only ones on planet earth that thoroughly document what it’s like to get into beekeeping as a backyard beekeeper in Newfoundland. I’ve also posted a Guide to Beekeeping in Newfoundland that might provide a few handy tips.
My lofty goal for the videos and everything I post online is to be honest about my mistakes while documenting what actually seems to work so that others might learn from me without being told what to do. An intuitive intelligence for beekeeping can come to light through experiential teaching and learning — by sharing our experiences with each other. My intention is to provide space for people to “get it.” I hope that’s what I do in my own little way. Maybe. Who knows?
Most of the above alternatives to joining the Newfoundland and Labrador Beekeeping Association (the NLBKA) are available for free to everyone, which might be helpful for people who can’t afford the association’s $100+ AGMs and annual membership fee on top of what might already be hefty beekeeping expenses for them. Most people in Newfoundland who get into beekeeping as a business seem to already have acres of land at their disposal and more than enough money to build up dozens of hives all at once (not having a regular day job doesn’t seem to hurt either), but that’s only the commercial side of it. Beekeeping doesn’t have to be an exclusively privileged vocation for prospective beekeepers who just want to have fun. It’s there for everyone.
I point out alternatives to the NLBKA only for people who can’t join for whatever the case may be. I don’t mean to dissuade anyone from joining if that’s their thing. I just don’t like to see anyone left out or feel like the only way to learn about beekeeping in Newfoundland is through the NLBKA. The association’s executive members are volunteers who do what they can to promote good beekeeping practices, but there are all kinds of people in Newfoundland who continue to become excellent, well-informed beekeepers on their own. It’s entirely possible. And it’s okay. Nobody should be made to feel disadvantaged for not being a member of any kind of beekeeping group. There’s more than one way to bake this cake.
Here’s a list of all the resources mentioned above:
— Honey Bee Suite
— Beekeeping lessons by David Burns
— Scientific Beekeeping
— Michael Bush’s Beekeeping
— Some beekeeping books
— The Beekeeper’s Handbook
— National Honey Show videos
— Bob Binnie’s YouTube Channel.
— The University of Guelph beekeeping lessons
— Ian Steppler’s Canadian beekeeper videos
— Backyard Farming & Homesteading NL (on Facebook)
— BeeSource forum
— Bee Culture magazine.
— The Bee-L Listserv
— Worldwide Beekeeping forum
— Mud Songs beekeeping videos
— My Guide to Beekeeping in Newfoundland
This page was last updated in June 2021. I receive no monetary award for promoting any of the above resources. I am not a member nor a spokesperson for the NLBKA.
Point of clarification: I said that many people in Newfoundland continue to become excellent, well-informed beekeepers outside of the NLBKA, but I do not mean to imply that prospective beekeepers should turn to just anyone. Don’t take the word of a single beekeeper about anything, especially if they’re trying to sell you something. I can promise that you will deceived by the benevolent beekeeper persona that we, as consumers, have been conditioned to trust, not much different than children believing in Santa Claus (it might be exactly the same phenomena). It’s best to track down at least three or four experienced beekeepers from different backgrounds, people who have had at least 5 consecutive years of keeping more than two or three colonies alive, who aren’t friends and haven’t purchased their bees from the same commercial operator. Gather informed opinions. Ask around about who can be trusted before handing over hundreds or thousands of dollars to someone promising to make your beekeeping dreams come true. Be careful of the benevolent beekeeper persona. It’s not always what it seems.