How to become a Beekeeper

Beekeeper

Beekeepers operate beehives to produce honey and related products such as beeswax, pollen, royal jelly, propolis (bee glue and bee antiseptic) and queen bees, and to pollinate seed, fruit, nut and vegetable crops. Beekeepers also operate beehives to assist with the pollination of seed, fruit, nut and vegetable crops.

Personal requirements for a Beekeeper

  • Enjoy botany (plants) and entomology (insects)
  • Free from allergies and able to work with bees
  • Able to work in isolated areas
  • Willing to work long and irregular hours
  • Able to lift heavy weights
  • Happy to work alone
  • Able to keep accurate records

Education & Training for a Beekeeper

You can work as a beekeeper without formal qualifications, but employers usually require Year 10. You will probably get some informal training on the job. Entry to this occupation may be improved if you have qualifications and you may like to consider a VET course. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. Some previous beekeeping experience gained through hobby activities, as well as some knowledge of botany and skills in woodwork and metalwork, may also be an advantage. Work experience with a commercial operator is recommended.


Additional information

Beekeepers are required to register with the environmental or primary industries department in their state or territory.

Duties & Tasks of a Beekeeper

Beekeepers:

  • Build or put together parts of ready-made beehives
  • Treat and paint beehive parts to prevent wood rot
  • Negotiate with property owners and government agencies for sites on which to keep their bees
  • Transport hives to sites that have been assessed for honey or pollen production potential
  • Insert sheets of wax stamped with a honeycomb imprint into frames to be placed into hives
  • Remove honeycomb from the hive and extract honey
  • Look after and repair beehives and honey-extracting equipment
  • Control bee diseases, pests and parasites in working hives
  • Re-queen colonies and raise queen bees for their own use or sale
  • Negotiate with farmers to provide pollination services in the growing of nut, fruit, seed and vegetable crops
  • Process and clean beeswax
  • Package and sell honey, pollen, propolis and beeswax.

Tasks

  • Monitors and maintains the health and condition of bees..
  • Organises and conducts operations..
  • May select, train and supervise staff and contractors..
  • Maintains equipment..
  • Maintains and evaluates records of activities, monitoring market activity and planning production accordingly..
  • Breeds and raises bees for the production of honey and related products and for pollination stock..
  • Organises the sale, purchase and transportation of stock and produce..
  • Directs and oversees general activities such as maintaining hives and controlling pests..
  • Maintains appropriate nutritional levels..
  • Manages business capital including budgeting, taxation, debt and loan management..

Working conditions for a Beekeeper

Beekeepers travel a lot, examining honey and pollen flora and transporting beehives by truck from site to site as plants start flowering. Much of their time is spent outdoors and away from home. Many wear protective clothing such as overalls, gloves and hats with nets attached to protect their faces.


Employment Opportunities for a Beekeeper

Commercial beekeepers require at least 500 beehives in order to make a living. These hives are moved many times throughout the year to take advantage of flowering times in different parts of the country. Work may be seasonal. The increasing local demand for queen bees and packaged bees may provide some additional part-time positions. The cost of a full commercial venture is high, covering hives, trucks and associated extracting equipment. Beekeepers usually purchase a small plot of land (about two hectares) in an area of low human population to accommodate building honey-extraction equipment and storage sheds, a workshop and living quarters.


Specializations

After gaining adequate experience, beekeepers may choose to focus on one of four main industry segments:

  • Apiary, queen bee production, marketing and packing, or pollination. Some may specialise as apiary inspectors or advisers, or laboratory diagnostic technicians.

Beekeeper

Beekeepers operate beehives to produce honey and related products such as beeswax, pollen, royal jelly, propolis (bee glue and bee antiseptic) and queen bees, and to pollinate seed, fruit, nut and vegetable crops. Beekeepers also operate beehives to assist with the pollination of seed, fruit, nut and vegetable crops.

  • Average age
    Average age
    52 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
    Stable
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    20% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    51 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
    Unavailable
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Very high skill
  • Unemployment
    Unemployment
    Lower unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    69% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    1,200 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 0.2%
    NSW: 36.7%
    NT: 0.2%
    QLD: 19.1%
    SA: 12.2%
    TAS: 4.7%
    VIC: 17.5%
    WA: 9.3%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 3%
    20-24: 4.7%
    25-34: 12.5%
    35-44: 15.3%
    45-54: 22.3%
    55-59: 11.6%
    60-64: 10.8%
    65 and Over: 19.8%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 7.3%
    Bachelor degree: 11.3%
    Certificate III/IV: 25.4%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 2.1%
    Year 10 and below: 31.5%
    Year 11: 6.6%
    Year 12: 15.8%
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