With New Zealand honey exports on the rise, beekeepers are in demand and UCOL Whanganui is offering a new apiculture training course.

The five month full-time course runs from this month to December and students learn to install, track and maintain beehives up to necessary compliance standards.

American Jake Schultz is both lecturer and developer of the beekeeping and sustainable agriculture programmes at UCOL.

As a teacher from Wisconsin, the heartland of American dairy farming, Mr Schultz noticed failing industrial farming systems.

Advertisement

"It made no sense to me that there was a disconnect within the current failing industrial farming system with their practices that create massive erosion, farm viability issues, health issues, and major debt, while there were alternative sustainable and viable models out there."

Mr Schultz went about learning as much as he could by working on organic and sustainable farms and worked with others to establish an urban farm in a car park situated in the city of Minneapolis.

After obtaining certification for beekeeping from the University of Minneapolis, he established and maintained organic beehives for organic farms.

Students on the beekeeping and sustainable agriculture programmes will learn how small scale beekeeping and farming can be viable while large scale ventures can also be environmentally sound.

Graduates of the UCOL beekeeping course will find jobs as assistant beekeepers for a commercial operators, independent beekeepers with small numbers of beehives or start on a staircase to further study.

Meanwhile Whanganui family business, Canaan Honey is running evening classes in conjunction with Wanganui Community Education Service on beekeeping.

Owner Janice Brandon says the classes are popular and people joining in are a mix of hobbyists with a small number of hives and people who are simply interested in learning more about bees.

"People find bees fascinating and enjoy seeing how honey is produced," she says.

In March this year, Statistics New Zealand published data showing that honey export sales had reached a record high of $300m - an increase of 42 percent on last years' figures.