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Sustainable Urban Beekeeping

Tucked away in the Humber Arboretum's meadow is a collection of beehives which have for years provided delicious small batch honey and served as a point of interest for visiting students and tour groups.

Now, in partnership with Humber College, the Humber Arboretum is pleased to offer a series of courses and hands-on workshops centered around Sustainable Urban Beekeeping. Whether your focus is on supporting pollinators, creating local food for your family and community, or making your own small batch honey and by-products to sell, join the Humber Arboretum's experienced beekeepers for weekend sessions that can get you started on the path to healthy, thriving, urban hives.

Take Individual Courses or Earn a Certificate of Participation through Humber College

Learners are free to pick and choose the courses that are of interest*, or complete 8 required courses and 2 electives to earn a Certificate of Participation through Humber College. See the full course descriptions below.

*Please note that several courses have pre-requisites. Read individual descriptions for details.

Anyone planning to take the full certificate can save over $300 by bundling the ten courses in advance for only $500 plus HST. (Please note, the $500 does not include additional material fees for electives.)

Gift Certificates

Do you know someone who would love to learn about Sustainable Urban Beekeeping? Gift certificates are available for the introductory course ($75 plus HST) or for the full certificate ($500 plus HST). We will provide you with a PDF gift certificate suitable for printing or emailing.

More Opportunities to Complete the Pre-Requisites

Did you miss "Sustainable Urban Beekeeping: The Basics" on February 4th? We've added another date in April so that there are more opportunities for people to complete the three intro courses which are prerequisites for participating in the workshops in the bee yard this spring. See the updated schedule below.


Registration & More Information

Read the course details below then, for more information on individual courses, to register for the full certificate in advance, or to purchase a gift certificate, you can contact the Humber Arboretum at or call 416-675-5009 Courses are also open for individual registration directly through Humber College's Continuing Education website.

BEES 010
Second date added: Saturday April 1, 2017; 10:00am - 3:00pm

While bees are struggling in rural environments, they've been thriving in urban ones. If you've been thinking of taking up urban beekeeping, this introduction to the challenges and opportunities of keeping bees in the city is for you.

Topics covered include: honeybee anatomy & behaviour, site selection, available resources, necessary equipment, laws & registration, and the beekeeping year.

Location: Center for Urban Ecology, Humber Arboretum

Fee: $75.00

BEES 020
Second date added: Saturday April 15, 201710 am – 3 pm 

While the numbers of wild pollinators in rural areas are being decimated by industrial agricultural practices and loss of habitat due to peri-urban sprawl, their counterparts in urban environments are faring comparatively better.

This workshop will look at native pollinator populations that have higher densities in urban compared to rural areas. What factors contribute to this success, and what can urbanites do to make the city even more hospitable to wild pollinators? What are the benefits of encouraging wild pollinators in the city? 

Supportive strategies for increasing urban diversity of native bees will be discussed, including nest-building (native bees) and planting a bee-friendly garden; several hive types will be compared and contrasted (with a focus on the Langstrothe 8-frame), and specialized hive components will be explored while providing participants with hands-on experience.

Location: Center for Urban Ecology, Humber Arboretum

Fee: $75.00

BEES 030
Date Change: Sunday April 30, 2017; 10:00am - 3:00pm

A range of beekeeping challenges (pests, pathogens and predators) will be addressed with a focus on Integrated Pest Management. Monitoring techniques, recognizing signs and symptoms of problems, and conventional vs alternative treatment methods will be explored.

Swarming is a natural reproductive strategy of the honey bee colony, but can be problematic at close quarters in the city. This workshop will cover monitoring techniques, what swarming behaviour is telling you about your bees, how to mitigate or prevent swarming and even how to benefit from this natural behaviour. 

It happens: sometimes a hive/colony will fail, even when you give the bees your best. While a dead colony is heart-breaking, it can be seen as a learning opportunity. We will cover the most common causes of "dead-outs" and strategies to minimize or prevent their occurrence.

Location: Center for Urban Ecology, Humber Arboretum

Fee: $75.00

BEES 040
Sunday May 14 & Saturday June 3 – two visits

Participants will open up a hive (in the Arboretum and/or at Humber College) to observe and to help manage the bees. Spring topics include splitting hives, installing a nuc (nucleus colony), spring build-up, swarming, integrated pest management (IPM), and honey supering.

Pre-requisites: BEES 010, 020, 030

Fee: $80

BEES 050
Summer 2017

Participants will open up a hive (in the Arboretum and/or at Humber College) to observe and to help manage the bees. Summer topics include splitting hives, integrated pest management (IPM), and honey supering/preparing for harvest.

Pre-requisites: BEES 010, 020, 030

Fee: $80

BEES 060
Fall 2017

Participants will open up a hive (in the Arboretum and/or at Humber College) to observe and to help manage the bees. Autumn topics include harvest preparation, fall treatments and readying the hive for the long winter months.

Pre-requisites: BEES 010, 020, 030

Fee: $100

BEES 070
Fall 2017 

This hands-on workshop will examine harvesting tools + methods, regulations, jarring + labelling first-hand. Cleaning Beeswax and building a simple solar wax melter are also part of this experience.

Fee: $75

BEES 080
Fall 2017

Participate in a full honey harvest day!

Fee: $90

BEES 090
Saturday May 6, 2017; 9 AM - 12:30 PM 

Assemble & Take Home an Urban Beehive!

We'll knock together an 8-frame Langstroth starter hive including a brood box and frames, an inner and outer cover, and reversible bottom board. Then we'll build a second, screened, bottom board as part of our pest control strategy. More compact than a conventional hive, this 8-frame is perfect for urban environments where space is at a premium. Because it's lighter, it's a better choice for rooftop apiaries where weight restrictions can be a consideration. And lifting is easier on the back.

But did you know honeybees are more likely to die from moisture inside the hive than from the winter cold? We will also build a humidity box for our urban beehives. Sometimes called a ventilation box or a quilt, this addition will wick away moisture from inside the hive. It also acts as an excellent insulator during very cold or very hot weather, and holes drilled in the sides facilitate good ventilation, an important feature of a healthy hive.

Fee: $45 + materials $150

BEES 092
Saturday May 6, 2017; 12:30 PM - 4 PM

Finish up hive components begun in the morning session and spend the afternoon expanding your starter hive with additional boxes and frames. 

Fee: $45 plus materials fee of $30 per additional box with frames (please indicate in advance how many additional boxes you would like to make to ensure adequate materials are available)

BEES 093
Not scheduled at this time

Honey is not the only beneficial byproduct of beekeeping! Healing salves, creams, lip balms and bath balms take advantage of the healing properties of honey and beeswax. Depending on time of year and popular demand, we will prepare various honey harvest byproducts - and take them home to enjoy.   

Fee: $45 plus materials fee

BEES 094
Not scheduled at this time

Honey is not the only beneficial byproduct of beekeeping! Mead is one of the world's oldest alcoholic beverages. We will prepare various honey harvest byproducts and take them home to enjoy.

Fee: $45 plus materials fee