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Beekeeping - Is it for You? Do you have what it takes to be a Honey Bee Keeper?

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 10

Why not just buy honey?

What are the benefits of beekeeping?

For those who are fascinated by the possibility of having their own beehives, but are wondering if they have what it takes, this article is for you. 

Beekeeping can be demanding past time, but is also incredibly rewarding.  For those who love honey, you have a number of options to find the best fresh natural honey for your toast.  One of the simplest ways is to find a local beekeeper, and regularly buy one of nature's super foods, honey for table.

An infinitely more difficult way of having your own homegrown honey, is to keep your own honey bees. The attraction of keeping your own hives can be

Fresh clear natural honey from the bee hive
a very strong one, even when common sense suggests buying the honey ready made.

Here are some of the main pros of keeping your own beehives.  You have access some to your own freshly made super food, where you have control of the quality and production methods, allowing you to produce honey that is way better than any you have ever tasted before. Grocery store honey is often blended and watered-down and can contain very little real honey.  The honey you produce yourself will be thicker, tastier and more nutritious than store-bought.

Other people are willing to pay good money for the honey you produce, and that honey is a product that is eaisly handled, and will never decay, decompose or spoil if produced with care.  So a small part time income as possible from home even from one or two beehives depending on how much honey your household consumes.

Another benefit that will drive a person to keeping bees, is the satisfaction of self-sufficiency.  There is a certain contentment that comes from growing your own food. Producing your own sweets is not easy to do on a small holding unless you keep bees.  Honey is a very versatile foodstuff, and can even be used in soap for its beneficial health properties.

Keeping honeybees gives you a unique insight into these fantastic insects. The organization of the hive and the biology of these interesting creatures it's fascinating to follow firsthand. This is not something you initially think of when wanting to keep bees for honey, but it is a surprising additional benefit.

If you have a vegetable garden, fruit bushes, or in orchard where you are hoping to harvest fruit, honey bees do a fantastic job of  pollination and directly increasing your harvest yields. A jar of honey will not do this. Often fruit yields will more than double with your own beehives on the property.

You will be helping preserve and maintain the Apis melifera, honeybee population, that is currently struggling to survive and thrive due to invasive species of parasites, pathogens and spraying of pesticides and other inorganic chemicals from industrialised farming and other sources. 

What qualities should a beekeeper possess?


Motivated – keeping bees, especially in the beginning can be quite intimidating.  A beekeeper needs the qualities of keeping to the plan despite occasional setbacks.   Driving yourself to don your beekeeping suit, light your smoker and go and open up the hive can be difficult to do in the beginning, so strong motivation is necessary to be able to allow you look after the bees properly.

Self reliant – although it is wise to assist and

Honey Bee keeping kit  for safe beekeeping
learn from an experienced beekeeper, there will be a point where you are on your own and responsible for your own hives. It is up to you to be able to start tasks the maintenance on your own at the proper time with the right information.  Being able to research what you need to do at a certain time for the bees is important. If a situation arises in the hive that you have not seen before, you need to be able to make sense of it.

Calm – Guaranteed, there will be the odd moment when you wonder why you decided to keep honey bees at all, and what should you do when a cloud of them are all angrily buzzing around you.  You need to be able to override your instincts and remain calm in these situations.  Practice looking after your bees, to keep these situations to a minimum, but in the beginning it can be quite daunting.  Remembering that bees can fly faster than you can run is not always easy when you hear the angry pitch of irritated bees buzzing around you or after the first bee sting.

Physical qualities for beekeeping

 You should be in relatively good health.    Also if you are a relatively poor health with heart problems, a multitude of bees stings all at once may stress your resources and ability to deal with the attack.

You should not have anaphylactic

Bee smoker for safe beekeeping
reactions to bee stings.  Although I know both beekeepers that would have an anaphylactic reaction to be stings, often this has developed after they started beekeeping. You are risking your life if you know you have an anaphylactic reaction to bee stings and you decide to beekeep. This is a situation where buying the honey locally may be a better option.

You should have a relatively strong back. If you are unable to carry heavy weights without damage or strain to your back, beekeeping may not be the best option for you. When full of honey, a single layer or box of a beehive can weigh in excess of a hundred pounds. It may be possible to move the honey frame by frame, but this takes much longer and tends to agitate the bees more. For moving whole hives from one location to another, the bee boxes need to be moved all in one piece with the top on which requires either lifting equipment or a strong back.  It is little surprise, that back problems are one of the occupational hazards of beekeeping.

One last thing

If you want any kind of street cred or respect, or some might call it awe, tell people you have honey bees and hives. You'll never be at a loss for conversation topics at parties again.  People usually want to know if a) you have been stung and b) how much honey you get. 

Another unexpected benefit is, you also will have the

Bees Building Honeycomb on a honey frame taken from a Heehive
ability to make delicious intoxicating mead for a very low price, while allowing you to try many recipes.   

You will also will lose any fear you have of bees flying around you while sitting out on the patio or outdoors without your suit. You will learn to recognize the pitch of a contented bee and an angry bee and realize they are nearly always contented. 

Beekeeping does get easier, if you can get yourself over the initial hurdle of opening the hive the first time.  Educate your self with beekeeping videos and books and go and help a beekeeper if you can before investing in all the equipment.



Feb 9, 2012 3:57pm
Great article on Beekeeping thanks - we need more beekeepers in the world as they do such a great job with the environment. Plus of course honey is wonderful!
Feb 9, 2012 5:34pm
Hi Sam, Glad you enjoyed the article, thanks for commenting. I wrote it for all the wannabe beekeepers who don't know whether to take the plunge or not. Took me 11 years to do it so I know it is not an easy decision, but it is a rewarding one!
Feb 24, 2012 7:44am
I've been thinking about getting a couple beehives, just always seems to be something I'm gonna do 'next spring'. Hasn't been 11 years yet, but getting close.
Feb 24, 2012 9:19am
Its a bit daunting, but I'd say if you can talk to a few beekeepers locally threr will be 1 or 2 that can help you get started, even if you are free labour and go out and help them for a day or two, and they get you set up for a lower cost. You can take night school type courses, and sometimes the teacher will get people set up too. I did it on my own which was hard as there was really no one round here that was not just big commercial guys. Go for it. If you get some this year, established hives, you may have your own honey by August!
Mar 19, 2012 2:50am
This is something I'd never be able to do. I've a huge bee phobia and revert back to a little girl whimpering for her mother if one even lands on me. Very embarrassing and one of my best friends names means honey bee which I find ironic. Still its nice to have honey bee keepers.
Apr 17, 2012 12:19pm
I hope to have a hive or two someday. Of course...there is a lot of stuff to do between now and then. Great article! I will be stopping on by for lessons some day. :-P
Apr 18, 2012 7:29am
No problem, I can tell you what I know! Bees are way more interesting than you'd think. I thought I just wanted them for honey, and have always been a bit scared of being stung, but I have pride and interest in them and feel responsibility for them. I was not expecting that, but they are amazing creatures!
Jan 5, 2013 7:54am
This is definitely NOT for me!

Very informative and interesting.
Jan 5, 2013 8:02am
Thanks. It takes nerves of steel the first few times! You have to override the urge to run away! They can move faster than you anyway so running is futile.

Did you know, even the second time you handle them, they know you and they behave better?
Jan 5, 2013 12:15pm
I did not know that. That is really interesting. I think, though, all the way around, that everyone involved (the bees, and especially me) will be the best off if we stay as far apart as possible.
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