Urban Beekeeping

Urban beekeeping continues to gain popularity in cities around the world in response to the troubling news of worldwide drops in honeybee populations and honey yields. Learn how our gardening choices can have a positive impact on the lives of urban honeybees and their wild cousins. The Urban Beekeeping Series is taught by seasoned beekeeping instructors and long-time members of the urban beekeeping group, Toronto Beekeeper’s Cooperative. This series gives you hands-on experience with managing hives, as well as provides you with simple steps to support honeybees and other important pollinators in the city, whether you intend to keep your own bees or just enjoy learning about their care.

Students may also choose to attend a variety of bee-related courses and workshops throughout the year.

These courses vary from term to term and do not apply towards the Urban Beekeeping Certificate.

  • What’s the Buzz in the Hive?
  • Health from the Hive: Introduction to Apitherapy
  • What Do Bees Do in Winter?
  • Pollinators in Peril
  • Lures and Liars
  • Wild Bees and Nest Building
  • Nighttime is the Right Time… For Pollination

Apitherapy: Health from the Hive
Thursday, June 23, 7:30 to 9 p.m.
Public $28; Members $22
Learn the benefits of honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly, beeswax and bee venom, not only for honey bees, but for our health, too! Join TBG beekeeping instructor and manager of The Bee Shop, Oliver Couto, as he  discusses the many ways hive products have traditionally been be used to treat ailments and support good health. Taste honey, try samples of apitherapy products and go home with recipes.[PG16S26] Oliver Couto


Including seven in-class and “in-hive” sessions, this series provides grounding in basic beekeeping for two groups of 15 students per year. Please choose Group A (more weekdays) or Group B (more weekends) when registering. Some sessions combine both groups.

Group A: [PG16W35] Public $330; Members $270 *SOLD OUT*

Group B: [PG16W36] Public $330; Members $270 *SOLD OUT*

Session 1: Intro to Bees & Hive Equipment
Groups A & B: Sunday, March 20, 1 p.m.  to 4 p.m.
Get the 101 on honeybees (Apis mellifera) by learning the importance of all bees to the environment and the history of the modern beehive. Explore hive-building equipment, beekeeping suits, smokers and hive check tools and get your hands dirty preparing equipment for the year ahead in the “work bee”.

Session 2: Design & Plant a Pollinator Garden
Groups A & B: Sunday April 10, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. *No Rain Date*
How does the TBG keep our bees happy? We plant a pollinator garden right on their doorstep! Learn the best plants to provide optimum bee nutrition throughout the growing season and do some planting in the TBG Pollinator Garden while receiving plant tips and tricks from Paul Zammit, our Nancy Eaton Director of Horticulture.

Session 3: Plan the Season & Check the Spring Hive
Group A: Wednesday, May 11, 1 to 4 p.m. Rain Date: Wednesday, May 18, 1 to 4 p.m.
Group B: Sunday, May 15, 1 to 4 p.m. Rain Date: Sunday, May 29, 1 to 4 p.m.
Experience a crucial time in the bee¬keeping season as the bees wake up from their winter slumber. Discover the considerations, pitfalls and remedial options you will face in spring. Learn about safety in the bee yard, don your beekeeping gear and take your first look into a hive by participating in a hive check.

Session 4: The Summer Hive Check
Group A: Wednesday, June 15, 1 to 4 p.m. Rain Date: Wednesday June 22, 1 to 4 p.m.
Group B: Sunday, June 19, 1 to 4 p.m. Rain Date: Sunday, July 26, 1 to 4 p.m.
Learn to handle hive equipment and identify the queen, worker and drone bees. Check out how the hives’ honey stores are coming along and identify signs of parasites and review organic strategies to deal with them.

Session 5: The Honey Harvest
Groups A & B: Sunday, Aug. 21, Noon to 4 p.m. Rain Date: Sunday, Aug. 28, Noon to 4 p.m.
This is the most exciting (and sticky!) time of the beekeeping sea¬son where bees and beekeepers share the bounty. Learn to sort and pull honey and nectar frames, remove wax cappings, extract liquid honey from the honeycomb using an extractor, clean frames and return spun frames to the hive.

Urban Beekeeping Certificate Proficiency Test
Group A: Wednesday, Sept. 14, 1 to 4 p.m. Rain Date: Wednesday, Sept. 21, 1 to 4 p.m.
Group B:Sunday, Sept. 18, 1 to 4 p.m. Rain Date: Sunday, Sept. 26, 1 to 4 p.m.
For past graduates and current students who have attended all classes, complete this in-class/in-field proficiency check and earn the Urban Beekeeping Certificate from TBG.

Session 6: Honey & Wax Processing
Group A & B: Sunday, Sept. 25, 1 to 4 p.m. Rain Date: Sunday, Oct. 9, 1 to 4 p.m.
Test your taste buds by learning how terroir is interpreted through honey by sampling a variety of kinds from near and far. Learn how to process honey so that it’s ready for sale and render wax to be used in other projects like candles and soap.

Session 7: Put the Bees to Bed
Group A & B: Sunday, Oct. 23, 1 to 4 p.m.
Wrap up the season by learning how to do a final check for any parasites that may harm the hive during the winter, wrap the hives and ensure your equipment is ready for storage over the cold months. Students will celebrate the year and receive their certificates and jar of TBG honey.

All students of the Urban Beekeeping Series become part of a TBG alumni who are welcome to return to visit the hives during seasonal checks and to support the programs as needed. 

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  • For anyone interested in learning more about bees. Basic beekeeping – classroom and apiary time. I took all six courses last year. Learning about honeybees was exciting and educational. Wonderful teachers. Loved the hands on approach.

    • Toronto Botanical Garden

      Thanks Trish, great to hear positive feedback from our students.

    • Bee Boy

      Hey Trish.
      We have 4 hives on our Roof in Cabbagetown. Can’t enough about urban bee keeping:)

      • Amy

        Hi. We are moving to cabbagetown and are looking for more info on keeping 1-2 small hives. If bee boy can contact me, I would appreciate it! Woolbelly@me.com

      • kokocat

        Hi! I live in Cabbagetown and creating a short documentary on beekeeping. If you are still there, and still actively beekeeping, and would like to be a subject in my film, please contact me at katmcg@yorku.ca, Thanks!

      • Sylvie Greeniaus

        I have two hives on a roof top near moss park. How are they doing?

      • Wes

        Hi, Bee Boy (and others with rooftop hives). I’m confused – I thought the City’s bee hive setbacks required a minimum lot size of approx. one acre (which is not to be had in Cabbagetown), or a skyscraper (to achieve the setback distance, but vertically – like the Royal York hives on the roof). Am I missing something? I’m asking because I’m enrolled in this course for 2015, and am also keenly interested in having my own hive(s)… Thanks!

  • Madison

    Hi there
    I was just wondering when the deadline is for the 2015 courses ?

  • Adult Education Department

    Hi Madison –

    Thanks for your interest in the program – registration is open until the courses fill or begin, there is currently room in both but we’ve always sold out in the past 🙂

  • Andrea Pedrosa

    Does anyone know where I can purchase a beekeeping suit in Toronto?

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