Have you ever thought about beekeeping? Beekeeping is a rewarding hobby that is relaxing for many, but it does require some commitment and time. While not necessarily difficult, beekeeping requires dedication and effort for any success at all.
So, how much work is beekeeping? The short answer is ‘a lot’- but it can be a labor of love. Here is what you should know!
Being a Beekeeper
While some people work as beekeepers full-time, most choose to engage in beekeeping as a unique and fascinating hobby.
Certainly, there is a lot of labor involved with tending hives and maintaining bees, but much of your time may be spent observing and waiting- which can make it a very relaxing pursuit. Remember that it is important to not become complacent, however, as bees still are insects with the ability to fly and sting.
Buying your bees is the least of the challenges when it comes to tending a hive. Beekeeping involves a lot of work- are you up for it?
The misconception is that once you buy bees, they will do the rest. Unless you don’t mind wasting your investment, know that you will typically spend around 40 hours per hive each year in active maintenance tasks.
Those that commercially keep bees may have up to 500 hives at one time. Hobbyists may choose only to tend a couple of hives in their spare time. There will be a learning curve associated with beekeeping so expect to spend more time on your hives in your earlier endeavors as you become more familiar with the processes.
Challenges of Beekeeping
There is a lot of work involved in beekeeping and being responsible for the hive. The challenges are physical, yes, but also there are mental, emotional, and financial hurdles to overcome in beekeeping. Here are a few things to keep in mind before running out to buy bees.
Are you prepared to be stung?
Most beekeepers will attest to the fact that they have been stung at least once. If this is something that scares you or deters you- or if you have extreme allergies to things like bee stings, this may not be the hobby for you.
Also, if you have a fear of anxiety surrounding insects- bees, primarily- it may be quite challenging for you to engage in a hobby as a beekeeper.
Outdoor Space Nearby
While hives don’t take up a lot of room, you need some nearby features to keep bees happy and on your property- including flowers and plants for them to pollinate. Talk to a beekeeping expert, retailer, or professional to learn more.
This means that you need to lift and carry honey ‘supers’ which contain the honey- often weighing as much as 50 pounds. If this is too physically challenging for you- or if you do not have an extra pair of willing hands to regularly help out- beekeeping may be difficult.
Do you enjoy being out in the sunshine?
Beekeeping also involves being outside, in hot or sunny weather, tending bees and harvesting honey. Add to this the need to wear protective beekeeping clothing and gear, and it could prove challenging for some. It is imperative to wear this sometimes uncomfortable clothing to prevent being stung.
Researching and Learning
Beekeeping is not something you will inherently know how to do properly- unless you are born into a family of beekeepers.
As with any hobby, you need to prepare by learning and researching the craft- which not every person may have the dedication and motivation for. Do you?
Many estimate that it costs about a thousand dollars to get started with beekeeping and to get hives set up properly.
Add to this the gradual but consistent costs of keeping bees, and it may be too financially draining for some prospective beekeepers. There are definitive rewards of keeping bees, such as the bountiful harvest of honey hopefully, but it should not be considered to be a cheap hobby.
While not inclusive, this list should give a fairly accurate view of what is needed to consider beekeeping. It is a lot of work- but it can be a labor of love for many. Be realistic and if you feel that you are not up to the challenges associated with beekeeping and tending hives, try something else. Admittedly, this may not be the best hobby for everyone.
What does beekeeping consist of?
A beekeeper- also called an apiarist- keeps bees and tends their hive. Many choose this hobby to harvest, share, and enjoy the honey, beeswax, pollen, and royal jelly from the bees.
How much does it cost to start beekeeping?
The cost varies, but many industry experts estimate the initial costs of beekeeping to be just under $1,000, to cover all that is needed.
Should you buy bees for beekeeping?
You can and should buy bees for beekeeping from area beekeeping associations, whenever possible. Plus, these groups are a great resource for further information about bees and beekeeping.
How can you learn more about beekeeping?
Talking to beekeepers is one way to learn more about beekeeping. Check orchards and farms to find beekeepers willing to let a novice apiarist tag along!
You can also read about the benefits of beekeeping in our guide here.
How much does a Queen Bee cost?
The average price of a single Queen bee is around $70, though this varies depending on factors like location and availability.
Still, thinking of beekeeping? It is a rewarding hobby- job for many- but it does require hard work and commitment to succeed. Consider this when researching and shopping for elements to set up your hives- and speak to beekeeping retail professionals to learn more!