Melbourne Polytechnic’s new beekeeper course aims to tackle national apiarist shortage | Ralph-Lauren

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A Melbourne TAFE is offering Victoria’s first accredited course in beekeeping after a surge in interest in the field in the past 12 months.

Kyneton beekeeper Claire Moore, who is working with Melbourne Polytechnic, has been pushing for a Certificate III in the industry for years, and hopes it will help boost the struggling industry.

Ms Moore said it would provide an industry qualification for students, and allow their skills to be recognised nationally.

“We don’t actually have an education system for beekeepers at the moment, other than beekeeping clubs, so this will bring in a minimum standard and increase our standard of education.”

Ms Moore said beekeepers played a crucial role in food security as bees pollinated a third of the food we eat.

She also hoped the course would provide students with some financial security.

Three people are standing around a bee hive looking at thousands of bees collecting honey
Ms Moore said more Australians are wanting to become beekeepers than ever before.(ABC Rural: Eden Hynninen)

Qualified in a trade

“They will be qualified in a trade, and be able to go to a bank and get a bank loan,” she said.

“There is currently only one commercial bee school in Australia, and it’s in NSW, so all beekeepers have to commute there to get a Certificate III.”

Ms Moore said more Australians wanted to become beekeepers.

“We’ve actually had the largest increase in registration for beekeepers in 2020, than any year before,” she said.

A woman is wearing a bee suit and watching someone work on building a hive
Claire Moore says until now the only commercial bee school was in NSW.(ABC Rural: Eden Hynninen)

Shortage fuels certificate push

Melbourne Polytechnic director of strategic partnerships Kerryn Lester-Smith said the absence of accredited qualifications in Victoria had created a barrier for entry into commercial beekeeping.

“Our proposed curriculum will cover selecting and establishing an apiary site, biosecurity and industry standards, as well as safely working in an apiary environment,” Ms Lester-Smith said.

“Students will also learn how to breed queen bees and manage bee colonies, as well as extracting honey and managing the pollination process.

Melbourne Polytechnic is currently working to identify industry partners to help bring the course together.

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