Beekeepers typically work outdoors, tending to their hives in fields and rural areas. They may be self-employed or work for a commercial company.
A career as a beekeeper can be enjoyable and rewarding. However, it can also be challenging and may involve long hours during peak seasons, such as spring and summer.
What does a beekeeper do?
A beekeeper is a person who keeps honey bees in beehives or boxes. They don’t control the bees, but keep them healthy and well fed.
Some beekeepers work for commercial companies, and some are self-employed or freelance. They may also be employed to provide beekeeping services to farmers and gardeners, such as pollination.
Beekeepers are also involved in apitherapy, which is the use of bee venom to treat specific ailments. This is a relatively new area, but it may become a lucrative business in the future.
In addition to honey, beekeepers produce other commodities such as liquified beeswax, royal jelly and pollen. They sell their products either directly or via wholesalers and distributors.
A beekeeper can learn the skills and knowledge needed to become a successful beekeeper through a range of courses available from reputable training providers. Associations such as the BBKA, Bee Farmers Association and National Bee Unit can advise on suitable courses and events.
What is a beekeeper’s job description?
Beekeepers are responsible for the health and wellbeing of honeybee colonies, as well as the harvesting of hive products such as honey and beeswax. They may work independently or as part of a commercial beekeeping operation.
They construct hives, replace combs and collect and package any hive products including honey, beeswax and pollen. They also maintain strict control over diseases and pests and identify and report hive health concerns.
Their tasks vary according to the season. During spring, they inspect the health and laying ability of the queen bee, check hives to prevent swarming and breed replacement queen bees.
In summer and autumn, they visit apiaries to prepare the hives for honey production. They then extract the honey using extractors, containers that rotate quickly separating the comb from the honey at the honey-house and may send the honey away in containers for further processing into retail packs, usually glass jars.
What are the responsibilities of a beekeeper?
Beekeepers work in a variety of settings, from small-scale home beekeeping to large commercial farms. Their duties vary depending on their goals and interests, but most will keep records, monitor hives, harvest honey and other produce and maintain equipment.
Some beekeepers work exclusively in research, tracking and recording bee activities to help scientists understand how bees are affected by varroa mites and other challenges. These beekeepers may also move their hives from location to location to record results from different landscape topography types.
A beekeeper must be able to work outdoors in all weather conditions. They must also be able to work with and operate honey processing and bottling equipment.
What are the skills needed to be a beekeeper?
Beekeepers work in apiaries, or bee farms, where they manage honey bee colonies to produce honey and other bee hive products. They also provide pollination services for horticultural and seed crop producers.
They may work for large commercial apiaries or they may be self-employed and own their own apiaries. They need physical stamina and strength to move heavy equipment between apiaries, as well as the ability to work outdoors for long periods of time.
Their knowledge and skills can help them to establish and operate a business and market their bee products. They need a good understanding of economics and basic business accounting.
They also need to be aware of bee biology and behaviour and know how to handle bees safely. They also need attention to detail and the ability to spot problems with their hives, such as if there are gaps in population or if they are experiencing issues with the quality of the honey.