Beekeeping in Northern Climates Online

Interested in becoming a beekeeper? Dr. Katie Lee, Gary Reuter and Dr. Marla Spivak,  a 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 the foundations of what you need to know for success. The course modules cover honey bee biology, management, 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 contains over 12 hours of recorded instruction divided into modules. You will be able to work through the course material entirely at your own pace and schedule.

Our goal is to provide a solid support system as you learn about beekeeping. You will have access to optional live Q&A sessions via Zoom on the first Tuesday of each month from 6-7pm CST to ask the instructors questions about keeping honey bees. You can pose written questions in online discussion forums that will be answered by an instructor each Monday. Course access will last until June 15, 2025, allowing you to utilize the content over more than one beekeeping season.

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.

Access to the course begins on January 14, 2023. 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 open now through June 15, 2023 for the course that begins on January 14, 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.

Note: If you prefer in-person instruction, there will be in-person courses on Beekeeping in Northern Climates held on the U of MN St Paul campus in early 2023. For details, see our class website


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]