Learn how to keep honey bees

 Taught by Professional Beekeepers and Instructors

We offer weekend courses in how to keep amd maintain bees, particularly for those living in the Central, East and West Kootenays. Whether you want to keep just a pair of hives or are interested in starting a beekeeping business, our courses will give you the knowledge and confidence to look after honey bees.

Our Beginning Beekeeping course is delivered in both the classroom and the apiary. It is taught by BCHPA-Certified Instructors Amanda Goodman Lee and Jeff Lee,  the owners of Honey Bee Zen Apiaries and Swan Valley Honey.

We use a curriculum approved by the B.C. Honey Producers Association.  This is an important distinction! The BCHPA endeavours to make sure new beekeepers in B.C. have access to standardized education and that they are taught practical, balanced and proven ways to keep honey bees. 

Over two full weekend days we’ll cover what you need to know to start, and then give a full day of hands-on experience in one of our apiaries in May.

Other Courses

We also offer periodic advanced courses at our farm geared towards specific issues, such as spring management, making increase, queen-rearing, integrated pest management, preparing hives for winter and more. Contact us directly for more information.

Day 1

  • Introduction to Keeping Honey Bees
  • Regulatory Framework
  • Bee Hive Components, Equipment
  • Handling Bees & Frames of Brood
  • Swarms & Swarm Prevention
  • Honey harvesting & Extraction
  • What to do with your honey
  • Questions & Answers

Day 2

  • Basic Bee Biology
  • Bees in an Urban Setting
  • Hive Placement
  • Basic Problem-Solving
  • Diseases & Medication
  • Colony Health
  • Preparing for Winter
  • Other Products from the Hive
  • Exam

Field Day

  1. THE BEE YARD – Your Turn!

This is where you get to put into practice what you’ve learned.

Students will get hands-on training, using live hives to do the following:

  • Using the smoker, hive tools and miscellaneous equipment.
  • Proper attire
  • Smoker materials, how to light, how to use
  • How to handle the hive and work with bees
  • The right attitude
  • Position at hive, how to manipulate the frames. Do’s and Don’ts.
  • Inspecting the bees for: queen right, stores, diseases & pests
  • Finding the queen
  • Identifying eggs, larvae, capped brood
  • Pollen vs honey
  • How do you know the hive is healthy?
  • A queenless hive; how to identify and fix (sound, action, missing items)
  1. HONEY
    • Honey flows and how to identify them
    • When do I put on my honey super?
    • When do I take it off or add another one?
    • Uncapping and Extracting
    • Packaging, labeling & selling
    • Wax rendering & candle making

Varroa Control – testing & treatment

  • Proper sampling (alcohol, icing sugar, natural drop
  • Mechanical methods for reducing mites (brood break, drone comb)
  • Organic compounds (formic acid, oxalic acid) and their application
  • Synthetic miticides and their restricted use times

Nosema, Viruses & other problems

  • How to identify, when and what to treat with
  • A hive with chalkbrood
  • Dealing with: wasps, mice, ants, skunks and bears
  • Regulations
  • Which fencer & fence tester to buy?
  • Constructing an electric fence. Some do’s and don’ts
  • Testing and maintaining an electric fence

A final word about patience, observation and when to call for help.

Master Beekeeper

Amanda Goodman Lee

Amanda is a Master Beekeeper and worked as a beekeeping technician for the University of B.C. on several research projects. She is a former advertising executive with PostMedia and is also a member of Women Leading The Way. Amanda is a former president of the Richmond Beekeepers Association and is on a BCHPA committee. Contact: Amanda – Ph. 250-866-6861 Email:

Master Beekeeper

Jeff Lee

In addition to being a Master Beekeeper, Jeff is a writer and editor. A journalist by profession, he has 40 years of experience in reporting, much of it with The Vancouver Sun. He left the newspaper in 2016. He has taught at Langara College and is regularly sought as a commentator and communications expert. He also serves as an executive of the B.C Honey Producers Association. Contact: Jeff – Ph: 604-328-5028 Email:


Schools & Tours

We LOVE giving tours of our bee yards and production facilities! Part of our goal as beekeepers is to share our love for and knowledge of honey bees. We are proud of our business and we like to show it off. We know people are naturally curious about honey bees, about the challenges they face, and how honey is made. We have developed several tours scaled for schools and small groups. Contact us for more information and rates.

Book a Beekeeper

Have an event where you’d like to hear more about beekeeping? Both Amanda and Jeff are dynamic speakers and have delivered a number of public lectures. We’ve given talks at the B.C. Home and Garden Show, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, University of British Columbia, Women Leading The Way, local Rotary and other service clubs, garden clubs and local beekeeping associations. We have developed a number of apiculture-related talks, from “Bees, Backyards and Blossoms” to “Lessons for Commercial Beekeepers” to “How To Convince Your Municipality To Allow Bees”. We are also available for one-on-one consultations with novice beekeepers looking for help and better knowledge. Contact us for more information