Have you been thinking about becoming a Beekeeper? Today we’ll cover the easiest, quickest, and cheapest way to get into beekeeping.
Getting Started in Beekeeping
Beekeeping is a satisfying hobby with lots of business avenues. You can make it a full time gig selling honey, or just keep a small number of hives for a personal honey source. Honeybees are good to have around for your garden pollination as well.
Selling honey is a somewhat passive income in the sense that the honeybees are the ones actually making the honey. However, there is a large amount of work to be done by you, the beekeeper. It’s important to do research before diving into honeybees to make sure it’s something you really want to do!
The majority of the work associated with beekeeping is from the months of February/March to October/November. This is when the honeybees are active and require routine maintenance. Once you have the hives set up, it’s good to check on them weekly.
One of the biggest reasons most people don’t pursue beekeeping is the startup cost, the amount of work required, and the steep learning curve. Honeybee operations seem complicated on the surface, and there is much to learn. However, after one to two years, you should be able to handle most of the day to day operations.
Once you get past these three hurdles and get started, it can begin to pay off rather quickly. The best thing about selling honey is if its good, it will sell itself. There are many other business opportunities as a beekeeper besides honey.
The wax, which is a byproduct, can be sold or made into various products and sold. Queens can be raised and sold to other beekeepers. “Packages” of bees can be raised and sold. I even know a guy who extracted bee semen and sold to other beekeepers for top dollar!
How To Become A Beekeeper
Becoming a beekeeper is all about getting over the first three big hurdles: startup cost, learning curve, and the work to get setup. The best way to do this is to start small and work with a bee mentor starting out.
To do this, there are three tools you need. Bee Suit, gloves, and a Hive Tool, that’s it for now!
For women I would go for a full Bee Suit, like this.
For men, I would go for a jacket like this to wear with jeans or khakis.
Next you need a hive tool like this. These tools are used throughout many jobs in the beekeeping day to day operations.
Gloves are needed if they don’t come with the jacket or bee suit.
Note: It’s good to wear boots when checking bees, especially if wearing a bee suit.
Once you have these items, you can go in any hive and start learning all about the bee world!
The next step is to find a beekeeper in your area. This is the most crucial step to becoming a successful beekeeper. No amount of books, videos, or classes will teach you what you will learn from hands on experience working with a real life professional beekeeper.
The good thing about this step is the beekeeping community is one of the nicest and most willing to help others that I have found. Goat people are nice, chicken people are nice, even cattle guys are nice, but none are as nice and eager to help as the beekeepers.
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How to Find a Honeybee Mentor
Your ultimate goal here is to find someone who can mentor you. It takes at least a year of working and asking questions with a mentor for you to actually know what your doing. Even then, you will never stop learning. The honeybee world is never ending, trust me.
Beekeepers all over the world are known to have clubs. They usually meet monthly in local regions to chat, learn, and help each other. You need to find your local beekeeper’s group and attend.
To find a local beekeeper’s group in your area, type in “beekeeper group (redacted state)” into google. From there you want to look for a website with information showing the various local beekeeper groups in your state. Pick the one closest to where you live, example “Central Florida Beekeepers Association”.
They will have their own website or Facebook page. You should be able to find the date of their next meeting. I just looked up my local beekeeping group using google and found the calendar, (there is a meeting tonight!)
You will attend one of these meetings and do not be bashful! Speak up, let everyone know you’re interested in learning how to become a beekeeper. Most beekeepers are older and love to talk. They will love having a new member and will kindly chat with you.
From there, you should pick the most talkative member of the group and ask them who would be a good mentor for you. They will most likely offer themselves or suggest someone they know. Get their phone number and try to schedule a day for you to ride along with them to work their bees for a day.
You have your bee suit and hive tool. Spend the next few months with your mentor learning as much as you can. Try to help with all aspects of the process, from inspection to jarring honey and everything in between.
Now is the perfect time since the bees are still putting up honey. You should be able to catch a glimpse of how the honey extraction process works which is the most fun part of the process.
The point in starting out like this, is it will give you an idea of the amount of work involved in beekeeping. You’ll learn the amount of equipment required to get started. You’ll also build a relationship with someone who can provide valuable knowledge that is just a phone call away. A good mentor will also have excess used equipment to let you borrow or buy.
After working alongside a pro for a few months you will know for sure whether beekeeping is for you, before spending a large amount of money on bee equipment.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and I hope you decide to get started today!