Beekeeping in Northern Climates - Online

Interested in becoming a beekeeper? Dr. Marla Spivak, Dr. Katie Lee and Gary Reuter from the University of Minnesota Bee Lab will help you get started in beekeeping. If you have no prior experience keeping bees in our cold climate, Beekeeping in Northern Climates will teach you everything you need to know. The course modules cover honey bee biology, management, successful wintering of colonies, managing diseases and pests and so much more. If your goal is to keep your bees alive and healthy year after year, this engaging course is for you.

This online class is 12 hours of recorded instruction divided into modules. You will be able to work through the course material in modules entirely at your own pace and schedule. There are optional live Q&A sessions with the Bee Squad that you can choose to attend. Otherwise, there is ample oppertunity to ask questions in the discussion forums. You will have access to the materials for two years to allow you to review any module over two beekeeping seasons. There are two manuals that accompany the class: Beekeeping in Northern Climates and Honey Bee Diseases and Pest manuals. The manuals can be downloaded from the course itself or the manual page on this website. You will receive a certificate of completion for the course. 

The course date is 1/16/2021 on the registration page as that is when the course began, but you can register and begin the course anytime.

The cost is $175.00 per person payable with a credit card. Go here to register

Topics in the course include:

  • Purchasing equipment and bees
  • Hiving packages
  • Best management practices for keeping bees in urban and rural settings
  • Honey production
  • Successful strategies for the first winter
  • Strategies for keeping your bees healthy using medications only as a last resort
  • Dividing colonies in spring to avoid swarms
  • Introducing new queens to new divide colonies
  • Preparing colonies for the second winter
  • Best management practices for controlling diseases and mites, using medications only as a last resort

For addtional information, see this PDF of the syllabus.

NOTE: If your goal is to directly help bees, your goal is better met by planting flowers for diverse pollinators, reducing pesticide use, or supporting research through participation in community science initiatives. Becoming a beekeeper will not help the honey bee population, or contribute positively to addressing native bee declines. Read more about helping bees and all insects. Everyone can help support all bees in five ways:

  1. Plant bee flowers everywhere.
  2. Provide nesting habitat.
  3. Keep bee flowers clean - do no treat bee-friendly flowers with pesticides (insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, etc.).
  4. Collect data.
  5. Support our efforts to keep bees healthy and on their own six feet.


  • Marla Spivak, Professor, Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota
  • Gary Reuter, Scientist, Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota
  • Katie Lee, Apiculture Extension educator, University of Minnesota

Class Details

Registration: cost is $175.00 per person payable with a credit card. Go here to register. Instructions to access the class will be emailed to you when you complete the registration.

Cancellations: Email cancellations to Katie Lee at

Refund Policy: No cancellation refunds after the student begins the class. A cancelation fee of $15.00 will be deducted from refund for cancelations made before the student starts the class.

Contact: For quesitons about the course, email Katie Lee at katielee@umn.ed