Covid funding means zero fee Beekeeping courses

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The Government’s announcement of free courses in construction, agriculture and community work (covered by the $320 million targeted training fund), naturally contributed to Kiwi beekeepers’ numbers. Funding has been available from July as part of NZ’s Covid-19 recovery plan.

The Eastern Institute of Technology (with Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti, Gisborne campuses) offers a Certificate in Apiculture, and enrolments totalled 87 students this year, compared to 48 students in 2019. Apiculture tutor Guilherme da Silva Vilhena says about 20 per cent of students want to get into commercial beekeeping, for the majority it’s a hobby. Age in the classroom spans from 19 to 69.

At Otago Polytechnic 400 students across the country enrolled in 2020 in their Certificate in Apiculture (Level 3). Campus manager Kelly Gay says they’ve had significant interest in enrolments in apiculture and a number of their land-based programmes this year. General horticulture, nursery and fruit production were up there alongside beekeeping. “There’s a whole raft of things that have happened post-Covid, but one is people have become more interested in how they can make a contribution to saving the planet. So certainly the government making a lot of primary sector training free has had a multiplying effect [on apiculture course enrolments], I think. For a lot of people it was the last barrier.”