If you want to learn how to become a beekeeper, there are some things you should know first. Whether you want to earn a living as a beekeeper or you prefer to do it as a hobby, there are some steps to follow. Before you go down this path, let’s look at a few things to consider first.
5 Things to Consider Before Becoming a Beekeeper
1. Can You Keep Bees in Your Area?
Whether you’re trying to become a beekeeper as a hobby or as a career, you will likely do it on your property. Most beekeepers are self-employed if they do this for a living. Becoming a beekeeper will require you to research your area and find out if you can keep bees on your property.
2. Why do you want to keep bees?
Answering this question is likely the most important step towards becoming a beekeeper. If you just want to keep bees because it’s trendy, you will likely fail. However, if you have a good reason for keeping bees, you can find success as a beekeeper.
3. Do bees scare you?
Some people are afraid of bees and afraid of getting stung. If this is you, becoming a beekeeper might not be a good idea. This is especially true if you’re allergic to bee stings.
4. Can you lift 25 pounds or more?
When a hive is filled with honey, it can get very heavy. If you don’t have enough physical strength, you might not be suited for beekeeping.
5. The Start-Up Cost
You can start beekeeping as a hobby for around $300 per hive and about $100 for the bees. It’s common for those beekeeping as a hobby to start with two hives. If you plan to keep bees for a living, you may need even more hives to produce enough honey and make an income.
Beekeeping isn’t for everybody. Even as a hobby, not everybody should become a beekeeper. If you’re considering this as a career path, make sure you truly want to become a beekeeper before moving on to how to become a beekeeper.
Job Duties of a Beekeeper
If you want to become a beekeeper, you will have many different job duties. You can work for someone else or you can become self-employed as a beekeeper. Your main job duties will include:
- Keeping a detailed set of records on the health of the bees
- Tracking honey production
- Monitoring and treating hives for any health issues
- Preparing bees and equipment for pollination
- Feeding the bees
- Cleaning hives
- Constructing hives
- Raising queen bees
- Replacing queen bees
- Dividing colonies
- Replacing combs
You may also work directly with the bottling equipment and honey processing equipment. It depends on the career path you choose; your job duties may be a bit different from the above.
How To Become a Beekeeper in 3 Steps
Step #1 – Research the Career
If you want to become a beekeeper, a good place to start is online with articles and videos. You can also get a few basic books about beekeeping to learn this type of career. Starting as a hobbyist is a great way to find out if you’re suited for a career as a beekeeper.
You can also seek out a professional beekeeper to shadow. It’s possible to volunteer for some on-the-job training, too. This can help you discern if beekeeping is a good career or hobby for you.
Step #2 – Get the Right Education
There isn’t really a degree for beekeepers and it’s likely not going to be necessary. You can take beekeeping classes from larger bee farms on the weekends or evenings. You might even find some beekeeping classes online.
Many beekeeping events are held across the United States every year. You can use these events to gain an education, as well. The North American Beekeeping Federation Conference & Tradeshow is a great place to start. This is put on by the American Beekeeping Federation in January.
While there isn’t really a degree in beekeeping you can get, you can take seminars on beekeeping at colleges and universities. They may offer courses for novices or even master courses for those looking to become professional beekeepers.
For example, the University of Florida offers a two-day “Bee College” and they also offer the Florida Master Beekeeper Program. Cornell University also offers beekeeping workshops for multiple levels.
You don’t need a degree to become a beekeeper. However, many do have a degree in animal science or biology. You can even find graduate-level degree programs closely related to beekeeping once you get your bachelor’s degree.
Step #3 – Get the Right Equipment
If you plan to become a beekeeper and work for yourself, you will need the right equipment. Some of the equipment you will need include:
- Hives – Bees live in the hives, so you will certainly need some hives. You will want to do some research before choosing the right hives for your bees and your property.
- Frames – The frames will go into the hives and act as a bit of a filing system for the bees. They will build their combs inside the frames.
- Smoker – You need to have a smoker if you want to keep the bees away from you. While the bees don’t care about the smoke, they will stay away from you if you use a smoker. This will help keep you from getting stung.
- Queen Catcher – A simple little tool, a queen catcher is necessary if need to separate the queen.
- Bee Suit – Of course, all beekeepers are going to need a bee suit. this is your first line of defense when it comes to keeping yourself safe.
- Gloves – A good pair of gloves is also necessary for beekeepers. Make sure you get excellent gloves to cover all the skin when you move around.
- Feeders – You will also need some feeders to help keep your bees happy. This will help give the bees their food supply.
- Queen Marker – With a queen marker, you can make sure it’s easy to find the queen. This is a very handy tool for beekeepers.
- Queen Excluder – A queen excluder can help you exclude the queen from the hive, when necessary.
- Hive Tool – A hive tool gives you the right tool for working within the hive. It’s a simple tool, but very necessary for beekeepers.
Of course, you will also need bees and a queen bee for your hives. Those looking to become beekeepers should consider getting the right equipment and supplies. Whether you want to work for yourself or be a hobbyist beekeeper, these are some of the things you will need.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Beekeeper
How much can I make as a beekeeper?
The salary of a beekeeper can certainly vary quite a bit. It will depend on the type of education you have, your experience, and the type of employment. If you’re self-employed, you control your income, while a commercial farm will likely pay a salary.
Some beekeepers work part-time or as hobbyists and still make some money. You can earn money from the production of beeswax products and honey. Some beekeepers sell these products at farmer’s markets or in a local food market. It’s also possible to sell starter or replacement bees to other beekeeping outfits.
The average salary for beekeepers working on a ranch or farm is about $44K per year or $22 per hour. If you have more experience, you can earn a higher salary. Those with a degree have the ability to move up the ladder and earn even more.
If you’re self-employed or a hobbyist, you can expect to make an average of just under $150 per year on each hive. This is based on selling around 32 pounds of honey per hive, each year.
Who do beekeepers work for?
Beekeepers are often self-employed. However, they can also work for larger commercial farms. Beekeeping is a career mostly found in the United States, Argentina, Turkey, and China. Major commercial operations tend to hire beekeepers, but the growth of local beekeeping has opened the doors for even more opportunities.
Are beekeepers in high demand?
Yes, more beekeepers are expected to be needed over the next ten years. More and more hobbyists are joining the industry and have entered the field. It’s also very possible larger, commercial outfits will continue to hire more beekeepers over the next ten years.
There are many reasons why you may want to become a beekeeper. It could be a fun hobby to enjoy in your backyard or you can become a beekeeper to earn a living. Many farmers and homesteaders will keep bees to help pollinate their plants and to produce honey. It’s common for those selling at farmer’s markets to add bees to their farm to sell honey and beeswax products.
If you become a beekeeper as a career, you can earn a salary working for a larger outfit. This is a great way to earn a living as a beekeeper.