Alternatives to Joining a Beekeeping Association

So you want to keep bees in Newfoundland, but joining the Newfoundland and Labrador Beekeeping Association isn’t possible due to money or time constraints or whatever the case may be. Not a problem.

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.

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.

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 BeeSource forum, the Bee-L Listserv and the Worldwide Beekeeping forum can also provide some experiential feedback that’s often helpful. There’s no harm is checking out Bee Culture too.

The Isle of Newfoundland (108,860 km² / 67,642 mi²) compared to the UK and Europe. (Click the map to zoom out.)

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 can be a welcomed break for people who can’t afford the association’s $100+ AGMs and annual membership fee on top of their already hefty beekeeping expenses. Those who take the time to look over these resources might notice that most of the information about beekeeping practices provided by the NLBKA has been available online from reputable sources for years — freely available to anyone who knows how to use Google. Beekeeping doesn’t have to be just for the wealthy or retired demographic or people lucky enough to inherit a family farm. It’s there for everyone.

My small backyard near downtown St. John’s where I first kept bees.

I don’t fault anyone for joining the NLBKA. I’m not out against the association. I’m only pointing out alternatives for people who can’t afford the fees involved with NLBKA activities or just don’t need its services. New or prospective beekeepers certainly shouldn’t feel pressured the join the NLBKA. It’s not the end of the world if they don’t. Many people in Newfoundland continue to become excellent, well-informed beekeepers without having anything to do with the provincial beekeeping association. And that’s perfectly okay.

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
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 October 2020. I receive no monetary award for promoting any of the above resources.

Point of clarification: When I said that many people in Newfoundland continue to become excellent, well-informed beekeepers without having anything to do with the provincial beekeeping association, I absolutely was not referring to a certain commercial operator on the island who seems to possess a religious belief that they — and only they — are doing what’s best for beekeeping in Newfoundland, when really their naïve approach to beekeeping is based more on wishful thinking than scientifically proven facts. The misinformation this person continues to spread about beekeeping in Newfoundland and beekeeping in general is astonishing. It’s one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen. The beekeeping association, even on its worst day, is a thousand time more reliable than this commercial beekeeper.

I can’t be specific about any of this because I don’t want to get sued. But just because I’m not jumping up and down about the provincial beekeeping association doesn’t mean I advocate the kind of beekeeping where one can just make things up so that they fit into a feel-good world view. That is clearly an effective marketing strategy for this particular commercial operator, but I wouldn’t call it a solid foundation for good beekeeping. The message today is: Caveat emptor.

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