No doubt everyone has heard of beekeeping and beekeepers also known in the scientific world as; Apiculturist, Apiarist, or a Honey Farmer and beekeeping actually falls under the category of farming, even if you are only doing it as a hobby like I am. Whether the person does it as a profession or as a hobbyist like myself, beekeepers are basically people who keep honey bees in their hives or in special beekeeping boxes. The beekeeper watches over the bees who work extremely hard to create honey, pollen, royal jelly as well as beeswax, all of which can be harvested for human use. Along with the responsibility of caring for the bees, beekeepers will often help provide different services to both vegetable and fruit farmers, often offering pollination services and raising queen bees in order to sell them to other farmers in the area in which they live.
Beekeeping can be a great career or hobby for anyone who loves being outside with nature and animals and who are very curious about how a variety of creatures like the honey bee actually contribute to the environment around us. If that sounds like you, then you’d really like the honey bee and the idea of protecting them and harvesting your own honey by becoming a beekeeper.
What Exactly Does the Beekeeper Do?
To put it simply, a beekeeper is someone who manages bees. They maintain as well as monitor the bee hives and then when the honey is ready to harvest they will then remove the honey and process it so it can be eaten. It’s important that a beekeeper makes sure that the bees stay healthy, that they prepare the colonies for the production of honey. They also need to inspect the colonies often to make sure there are no outward signs of disease and make sure to replace the queen bee when needed. That’s usually after about 5 years since the queen bee can live and produce young bees for around five years. Also a beekeeper needs to make sure that they follow all the food safety guidelines when they harvest and process honey, especially if they plan on selling the honey to others in the community.
When spring rolls around a beekeeper needs to make sure that they remove all the honey because it becomes ready during summer months and they also need to add more boxes or hives that contain more honey combs if they notice that the bees seem to need more room in order to produce what you need to make honey with. Also during the spring a beekeeper will need to give the bees medication just to ensure that they will be free of any harmful parasites and to make sure that the queen stays healthy and has the ability to produce her eggs.
When Harvesting the Honey
When it comes time to harvest the honey it’s really important that beekeepers wear protective clothing such as a protective suit that covers the entire body, protective gloves and a hat with a veil. This will keep beekeepers from getting stung. This is very important for people such as myself who happen to be allergic to bee stings and other similar stinging insects! Since the bees can get pretty agitated when you are trying to harvest the honey it is often necessary to use a smoker. This is a handy little device that releases puffs of smoke. These puffs of smoke will actually calm down the bees when they get agitated. Once this has been done it is then safe to remove the combs from the hives. Once they’ve been removed, you’ll find wax coverings on the honey combs and this needs to be removed in order to get to the honey. If you want, you can keep the bees wax for other uses or can sell it to those that use bees wax in making a variety of things. You can remove the honey by hand or you can buy a mechanical honey extractor to make the job easier and go faster. You then take the honey and strain it and skimming away any of the impurities there might be in the honey. After this is done, that’s it, you can then put the honey in jars with tight lids and either keep it for yourself to eat or you can go ahead and sell the honey to people in your community.