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 course is over 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 on the first Tuesday of each month at 6pm CST. There is also ample opportunity 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.

Two manuals accompany the class: Beekeeping in Northern Climates and Honey Bee Diseases and Pests. The manuals can be downloaded for free either in the course itself or from our manual page. You will receive a certificate of completion for the course. You will receive a printed manual in the mail as part of the course.

We will host an optional online live welcome for students, which will be recorded and put in the course for anyone unable to attend.


  • Purchasing equipment and bees
  • Hiving packages
  • Best management practices for keeping bees in urban and rural settings
  • Honey production
  • Successful strategies for preparing colonies to survive winter
  • Dividing colonies in spring to avoid swarms
  • Introducing new queens
  • Best management practices for controlling diseases and mites, using medications as a last resort

For additional information, see this PDF of the syllabus.

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 and Researcher, University of Minnesota


Registration is closed until October 2022 for the course that opens in January 2023. Students will have access to the course for two years.

The course is online work at your own pace. Optional live events: live virtual welcome over Zoom, and live virtual Q&A sessions on the first Tuesday of each month from 6-7pm CST.

The cost is $175.00 per person payable with a credit card.


Class Details

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

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

Contact: For questions about the course, email Katie Lee at [email protected]