Unfortunately, there are several species of bees on the endangered list. The worst part is if bees do become extinct, the world as we know it will have a massive shift in ecosystems. The food supply for humans would be impacted and other plants and animals that rely on bees will die out. This means the world needs more individuals who are willing to become a beekeeper.
Not only is beekeeping good for profit, but it is also good for the environment. If you raise honeybees and tend to their basic needs, you can play a major role in the survival of our planet.
No pressure, right? Beekeepers have an important job. But you also have to determine if this job will be beneficial to your lifestyle and finances. Learn what it takes to become a beekeeper at home and how you can get started making money with this job.
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What is a Beekeeper?
A beekeeper is exactly as it sounds; it is a person who keeps and cares for bees. This person keeps bees in boxes or replicas of hives in an environment that promotes breeding and making honey. The beekeeper collects the honey to sell for a profit. Beekeepers are also known as honey farmers.
Does a Beekeeper Require a License?
In general, becoming a beekeeper does not require a license if you are selling capped frames of honey. However, if you are selling bottled honey with a business name and label on that bottle, then you need to have a manufactured foods license.
Either way, you should consider having at least a business license to be able to capitalize on business expenses and deductions come tax season. A business license will also help make selling to others easier if they know they are buying from a legitimate business person.
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Other Beekeeper Requirements and Qualifications
There are technically no beekeeper education requirements. However, many beekeepers do invest in education to help them care for bees to the best of their abilities. This kind of education involves obtaining a bachelor’s degree in some kind of animal science or biological field.
This is helpful in order to better understand the life of bees and their role in the world.
Patience is also required as it takes time for bees to produce enough honey for you to harvest. The bees aren’t trying to meet any sort of quota; they are just doing their natural job. You have to be patient with the work they are doing each day.
Beekeeper Salary or Pay Expectations
According to Glassdoor, a beekeeper’s salary ranges from as low as $33,206 per year up to $232,000 per year. Your salary as a beekeeper will vary depending on your experience, the area where you are keeping your bees, and how many hives you have. As you gain more experience and keep more bees, the better your chances are of making more money.
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How to Become a Beekeeper
If you have thought about life as a beekeeper, here is your chance to learn how to do it. There is a time investment to becoming a beekeeper from home, so make sure this is something you truly want to do before you begin.
1. Do Your Research
While you can technically wake up one day and decide to become a beekeeper, it is highly suggested that you do your research about what it takes to have your own honeybee farm first. Having some kind of knowledge about bees will help you keep them alive and make an actual profit. At the very least, take a free online course to get a basic understanding of how to start your beekeeping business.
2. Check with Your City or State Guidelines
Usually, you are fine to just start your own bee farm without getting permission from anyone. However, it is a good idea to check with your local licensing offices to ensure you are in compliance with any rules they may have just to be on the safe side. Check if you need any kind of permit to have bees on your property.
3. Buy Your First Set of Hives
Getting your first set of hives will be an investment you will have to make to start your beekeeping business. This can be around $150. You will get your beehive and either a package of bees or a nucleus hive. It’s your choice which option you want to start with.
Consider that hives should have at least seven feet of space between them to keep the bees happy. This will help you determine how much space you need to have on your property.
4. Purchase Any Other Beekeeping Materials
In addition to your first hives, you will also want to invest in a full-body bee suit. There are other materials to consider as well like a smoker, storage bins, other protective gear, and tools to handle the bees. Your initial investment could end up being a few hundred dollars.
Keep in mind that these are not things you have to continue purchasing again and again. Beekeeping is a one-time investment unless you need to replace something down the line.
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5. Market Your Business
One successful hive could produce roughly $600 per year in honey. This is an estimate, but it is a reasonable amount of money to make. The more hives you have, the more revenue you can earn.
Market your business to local grocery stores and make deals to sell your honey on their shelves. You can also set up shop at local farmers’ markets and sell directly to consumers. Additionally, promote your business with social media to sell products online or connect with local customers.
Questions New Beekeepers Are Asking
Becoming a beekeeper comes with many decisions. Find out what new beekeepers are asking before you start this new venture.
Is it hard to be a beekeeper?
Something that might be hard for you might not be hard for someone else and vice versa. It depends on how dedicated you are to making this work and the amount of effort you are willing to put in. To get started as a beekeeper, there is a bigger investment of your time to get things going. This doesn’t mean you will have to put that much time in forever.
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Is it expensive to keep bees?
After the initial investment at the beginning of your beekeeping business, there really isn’t any other expense you will have with your bees. If you are comfortable with the initial investment, then the answer to this question is, “No.” The investment is worth it and can pay you back in no time at all after you start harvesting the honey.
How many beehives make a living?
This answer will vary for everyone. Take into consideration how much money you will need to start and then calculate how many hives you need to recoup that cost. After that, ask yourself how much money you need to make in order to earn a living. Divide that number by the $600 per hive per year estimate to consider how many hives you will need to make a living.
Consider that you don’t have to just sell honey to make money. You can also sell the hives and bees to others who want to start their own honey farms.
Do beekeepers make a living?
Yes, beekeepers do make a living. Someone having 300+ hives is considered a commercial beekeeper and they make significant profits. But they also have to hire help to maintain the hives plus additional tools. If you only want to keep a small number of hives on your property, you could make a comfortable salary. It really depends on what your definition of a successful beekeeper is.
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Who Should Become a Beekeeper?
If you don’t want your own honeybee farm, then consider looking around for other beekeeper jobs in your area where you can apply your knowledge and experience. Becoming a beekeeper is not for someone who doesn’t want to work. This job relies on your attentiveness to the bees and collecting the honey. If that isn’t something you want to do, then this isn’t the job for you.
A beekeeper should be someone who has an interest in bees and truly wants to make a difference in the ecosystem. The more bees the world has, the better chances humankind will have. Bees are needed so the more bee farms that pop up, the more bees can breed and increase their population.
Become a beekeeper if you have the time and patience to care for the bees and collect their honey when the time is right. Bees rely on humans to help them thrive and humans rely on bees to keep the world in balance. Start your beekeeping farm soon and reap the benefits.