Bee a Good Mentor

Thursday 1 February 2024

One of the most valuable tools a beekeeper can have is a good mentor they can rely on throughout their beekeeping journey. Even seasoned beekeepers know the importance of having a network of fellow beekeepers to learn from. Having one or more beekeeping mentors is crucial to running a successful operation, especially in the early stages of your career. Read this week’s blog to further understand the importance of beekeeping mentorship, what makes an exceptional mentor, and, if you are new to beekeeping, find out how you can acquire a mentor.

Bee a Good Mentor

Having a beekeeping mentor is an important asset for both new and experienced beekeepers1. A beekeeping mentor offers valuable insights, practical knowledge, and a supportive presence throughout one’s beekeeping journey. There are various jobs of a mentor, including providing hands-on training in the apiary, sharing expertise on honey bee management, and offering solutions to common challenges2. Additionally, a good mentor encourages open communication, allowing their mentee to ask a variety of questions, shares their own successes and failures, and empowers their mentee to become an independent beekeeper2. Transparency is key, and mentors should not hesitate to show signs of pests and diseases, or other issues within their colonies, as practical exposure is essential for the mentee to recognize and address these problems.

A beekeeping mentor can be any beekeeper with more experience than the mentee. Ideally, a mentor should have successfully navigated at least two complete beekeeping seasons, as this amount of time is typically needed to grasp the basics of beekeeping. Beyond this initial stage, beekeepers of all levels should consistently seek mentors with additional experience.

Every mentor is slightly different in their style of beekeeping and teaching, and it is important that the mentor and mentee connect well with one another1. That being said, there are some key qualities that make an exceptional mentor including patience, effective communication, a passion for beekeeping, and a commitment to the overall well-being of the beekeeping industry1,2. It is important to remember that mentors have a responsibility to shape responsible and skilled beekeepers to contribute to a sustainable beekeeping industry.  Additionally, existing beekeepers and industry stakeholders have a responsibility to help develop the next generation of beekeepers. How the industry welcomes newcomers and ensures that they have the education and experience to succeed must be integrated into our beekeeping conversations1.

A mentor should have a good understanding of their mentee’s existing knowledge and experience. This allows them to tailor their training to an appropriate level. This is why it is important to discuss what the mentee wants to gain from the mentorship2.

While a mentor cannot cover every aspect of beekeeping comprehensively, it is recommended that new beekeepers supplement their learning by taking a credible beekeeping course, specifically tailored to their geographic region1. Beekeeping, like other fields of agriculture, requires a mixture of education and experience1. A past Canadian survey found that nearly 20% of farmers have a university degree, and overall education levels continue to increase in agriculture3. Research suggests that access to beekeeping training can be an important mechanism influencing beekeeping success and profitability4-8. Beekeepers should also join their provincial beekeeping association and take advantage of beekeeping workshops and networking events throughout their career1.


If someone is new to beekeeping and looking for a mentor their first point of contact should be their provincial beekeeping association1. The associations are dedicated to helping new beekeepers find a mentor. For example, the New Brunswick Beekeeping Association has a mentorship program where they take all the names of people that want a mentor and aim to match them up with someone that is geographically close. Not all of the provincial associations have a designated mentorship program, but joining the association is a great way to meet other beekeepers, who could potentially provide mentorship, and the executives of each Atlantic association are very helpful when it comes to supporting new beekeepers.


  1. McCallum, R., 2020. Chasing the Buzz: Attracting New Beekeepers to the Hive. American Entomologist, 66(2), pp.20-23.
  2. Gabritsch, D. 2019. The importance of mentor programs. American Bee Journal, 159: 1047–1049.
  3. Statistics Canada. 2016. Census of agriculture.
  4. Aksoy, A., Demir, N. and BilgiƧ, A., 2018. A study on identifying the effectiveness of the beekeeping grants provided by IPARD program: examples of Erzurum, Kars and Agri provinces. Costs and Agriculture Online, 14(3), pp.269-283.
  5. Duah, H.K., Segbefia, A.Y., Adjaloo, M.K. and Fokuo, D., 2017. Income sustainability and poverty reduction among beekeeping value chain actors in the Berekum Municipality, Ghana. International Journal of Development and Sustainability, 6(8), pp.667-684.
  6. Gemeda, T.K., 2014. Integrating improved beekeeping as economic incentive to community watershed management: the case of Sasiga and Sagure Districts in Oromiya Region, Ethiopia. Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 3(1), pp.52-57.
  7. Okpokiri, C.I., Nwachukwu, I.N. and Onwusiribe, C.N., 2015. Determinants and profitability of honey production in ikwuano local government area, Abia State, Nigeria. Scientific Papers Series Management, Economic Engineering in Agriculture and Rural Development, 15(3), pp.211-216.
  8. Tijani, B.A., Ala, A.L., Maikasuwa, M.A. and Ganawa, N., 2011. Economic analysis of beekeeping in Chibok local government area of Borno State, Nigeria. Nigerian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 19(2).

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