How to become a Beekeeper
Have you ever wondered how people become Beekeepers? Do you like the sound of having your own honey at breakfast each day, or creating your own natural beeswax products? Boutique beekeeping is hugely popular, the industry has changed vastly in recent years, with urban beekeeping becoming much more than just a hobby.
What is a Beekeeper?
Beekeepers look after colonies of honeybees that are kept in hives or apiaries. They also harvest products like honey, beeswax and royal jelly. Beekeepers are sometimes called apiarists or apiculturists.
As a beekeeper your responsibilities would include feeding bees and overseeing beehives and building, inspecting and making repairs to them. You would also need to check and treat beehives for diseases and parasites, monitor the size of your bee colony and the quantity of the honey being produced. There may be instances in which you would need to relocate or introduce new bee colonies.
You would manage produce such as honey and beeswax from your bee colonies. This involves collecting, preparing, packaging and marketing these products.
Being a beekeeper, you would need to be passionate about nature and bees. Having strong organisation and planning skills, and good attention to detail is important. Because of the sensitive nature of your tasks, you would need to be patient and calm. For health and safety reasons you must ensure that you are not allergic to bee stings.
Hours and Conditions
The working hours of beekeepers vary depending on the time of the year and the quantity of hives involved. Expect to spend a lot more time inspecting and working with hives during spring and summer when bees are more active in producing honey. This type of work is also seasonal and spring, summer and early autumn are the peak seasons.
Beekeepers spend most of their work hours outdoors. They also travel and move a lot because they need to examine honey and pollen flora and may transport beehives from one site to another.
Most beekeepers are self-employed or conduct beekeeping alongside other farming activities. Because of the work environment, beekeepers need to wear protective clothing such as a face net, boots, gloves and a special bee suit if necessary.
How to become a Beekeeper: Qualifications
There are no formal qualifications required to become a beekeeper but you may want to consider a VET qualification in beekeeping. Having previous beekeeping experience through hobby activities and some knowledge of botany, woodworking and metalwork could improve your job prospects. Having work experience with a commercial operator is also recommended.
Beekeepers are required to register with the relevant State Department of Primary Industries.
To look at courses that will help you find a role as a beekeeper, check out
The job outlook for beekeepers is positive and expected to grow. As a specialised occupation, beekeeping has a lot of good opportunities particularly for self-employed beekeepers or for members of farming cooperatives. Additionally, managed bee numbers around the world has been steadily increasing because of the global demand for honey.
In Australia, there are few professional beekeepers who depend solely on bees and apiary products for their living. The majority of beekeepers generate profit through this profession, but they usually supplement it with some other activity since earnings can vary significantly every year.