Beekeeping in Northern Climates Online


Interested in becoming a beekeeper? Dr. Katie Lee, Gary Reuter, Dr. Marla Spivak, and others from the University of Minnesota Bee Lab & Bee Squad 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 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.

Our online course contains over 14 hours of pre-recorded instruction divided into modules. The course is self-paced, meaning you can work through the course material entirely at your own schedule. You will receive a certificate of completion for the course.

Our manual Beekeeping in Northern Climates, Third Edition accompanies the course. You will receive a printed manual in the mail as part of the course. The manual will be available to download for free either in the course itself or from our manual page

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, 2026, allowing you to utilize the content over more than one beekeeping season.

Access to the course begins on January 20, 2024. To welcome students, we will host a live, online event via Zoom on January 20 from 10am-11pm CST. The live welcome will be recorded and the video added to the course for those that register after that date or are unable to attend.

Registration closes June 15, 2024.


  • 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.


  • Dr. Marla Spivak, Professor, Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota
  • Gary Reuter, Scientist, Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota
  • Dr. Katie Lee, Apiculture Extension Educator, University of Minnesota
  • Jessica Helgen, Bee Squad Program Director, Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota
  • Brooke Nikkila, Bee Squad Program Manager, Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota
  • Jenny Warner, Bee Squad Team Leader, Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota
  • Nelson Williams, Bee Lab Apiary Manager, Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota



Registration closes June 15, 2024. All students will have access to the course for at least two years, until June 15, 2026.  

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 February 2024. 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. Full refund for students that do not begin the class. Refund less than $30 for students that do not begin the course, but had the manual shipped to them by the time of cancellation. 

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