Bees play a crucial role in the planet’s ecosystem. They pollinate plants, such as trees and the crops we depend on as a food source. These tiny, flying insects also contribute to the growth of trees and wild plants. Tree species, such as poplars and willows, need pollinators like bees to survive and thrive.
As the world’s population of bees decline due to factors like the use of pesticides and colony collapse disorder (CCD), many good-hearted folks are stepping up to take care of nature’s pollinators. These individuals are beekeepers.
If you’re interested in becoming a beekeeper, know that there’s more to this job than caring for insects and collecting honey. Before you embark on this hobby or profession, here are a few facts you should consider:
According to PayScale, beekeepers in New Zealand have an average hourly pay of $22.18. The salary of a professional beekeeper will depend on three factors: your experience, the responsibilities you do every day and the number of hives you maintain.
The Job Description of a Bookkeeper
Although gathering honey from the bees is a rewarding experience, this isn’t the only job of beekeepers. They’re also required to do the following:
- Transporting hives to multiple locations
- Maintaining hives to keep bees healthy
- Breeding queen bees to help maintain insect population
- Providing sufficient food for all bee colonies
- Inspecting overall hive health and (if necessary) deliver treatment for parasites and diseases
- Keeping bee records
- Packaging bee-related products, such as honey and beeswax, for processing and distribution
Special Equipment for Beekeepers
Before you enter the beekeeping arena, you need special tools to launch and maintain your hive. Some of them are:
- Bee Suit – Minimise the likelihood of getting stung by wearing a bee jacket with a hat veil. This is important not just for beginners, but also for seasoned beekeepers who work with multiple colonies every day.
- Gloves – Digging through beehives is not something you should do with your bare hands. You need high-quality gloves that can take on the brunt of a sting.
- Smoker – This invaluable tool turns aggressive bees into docile creatures. Smoke interferes with the colony’s defensive reactions, enabling you to collect the honey products you need from the hive.
- Bee Brush – This type of brush removes bees from the comb gently.
- Hive Tool – Use this to easily pull the frames and hive bodies apart.
- A Filter for Straining Honey – You’ll need this tool to properly extract honey from the hive.
- Sugar – During certain times of the year, bees will depend on you for nourishment. If they can’t find food in the wild, you’ll need to use sugar. You mix this ingredient with water to make a syrup that supplements the hive’s food supply.
Year-round Tending of the Hives
Beekeeping is not your typical nine-to-five job. You need to put in the hours to maintain and rear bees all year round. Here’s what you’ll be doing for every season:
- Spring – Install new hives and monitor the bees’ food levels closely.
- Summer – Conduct hive inspections more often during this season. You’ll also be checking the condition of the bees every week or two.
- Autumn – Determine if the bees have gathered and stored enough honey to make it through the cold season. If necessary, wrap and insulate the hives to keep the bees warm.
- Winter – The bees are dormant during this time, which allows you to plan for the next season. Replenish the food supply as needed.
Continuous learning is vital if you want to become a successful beekeeper. Before you invest in bees, hives, and frames, you need to spend time reading key materials on beekeeping. You could enrol in introductory classes, find a mentor or join a local beekeeper’s organisation to help you get the education you need.
Educating yourself before becoming a beekeeper is extremely important. When you know more about bees and their environment, you can make appropriate decisions and actions on the proper maintenance and care of these insects.
If you’re going to be a beekeeper, you’ll need to be physically fit. You’ll also need to have the muscles necessary to lift heavy hives. There will be times when bees produce a lot of honey. As a result, the hive becomes heavy during collecting periods. If you’re unable to lift a heavy hive, you’ll want to rethink about keeping bees.
These are just some facts you need to know about the beekeeper profession. Just like the bees, you need to be industrious if you want to achieve success and fulfilment in beekeeping.