Is It Hard To Start Beekeeping?

The idea of beekeeping might be fascinating to many. However, beekeeping isn’t a type of profession or hobby that all of us learn while growing up, so it can seem like an intimidating job or hobby to start and strive in. Do you want to start beekeeping?

Being responsible for an entire colony of bees can be time-consuming and hard work. Several physically difficult tasks are involved, such as harvesting honey and handling bees. Bees are fragile creatures susceptible to many predators, diseases, and pests. The financial investment that comes along with beekeeping can also be difficult.

Anyone who wants to start the art of beekeeping must do so for the right reasons and with awareness of what lies ahead. Is it hard to start beekeeping?

Starting Beekeeping

Beekeeping in urban areas is becoming more popular than ever, but does it live up to its reputation? You have to learn how difficult beekeeping can be, how much it costs to get you started, and how much time it can take.

None of these factors are intended to change your mind about being a beekeeper, but instead, it is intended to let you know about the commitment. Beekeeping is a rewarding job and even hobby and is a fascinating and addictive way to keep you busy.

Let’s take a look at the things that make beekeeping a challenge.

The Physical Aspect

Yes, beekeeping is a hard profession. For example, a ten-frame medium-sized super full of honey can weigh anywhere around 35kg each, so you will have to have some strength. It can be a workout!

This can be especially difficult when they are very full of honey, and you have to lift them or set them down from a higher level.

The general care and harvesting of honey from your bees will require a certain level of physical fitness and strength. Beekeepers are known for struggling with their backs, and for this reason, it is not recommended for older people to start beekeeping.

If you set aside the heavy lifting, beekeeping can still be harsh on your body in other ways. You are out in the heat of the sun during summertime, completely covered by your veil and bee suit.

If you do try to wear lighter and more breathable clothing, you run the risk of having to deal with bee stings and a lot of them! This can be dangerous, especially if you have a bee allergy.

Bees Are Fragile Insects

There are so many different things that could potentially affect your bees in negative ways. Of course, there are natural threats such as wax moths, mites, and viruses, and diseases.

There are also predators constantly wanting to rob your bees’ honey or prey on them, such as raccoons, skunks, and even some bears, depending on the area you live in.

Extreme weather can also harm your bees, and let’s not even begin discussing how man-made chemicals can kill an entire colony of honeybees.

Recently studies have shown that there is about a 1 in 3 mortality rate for bee colonies. Of those, about 66% are from bees dying during the Winter, and the other 33% of death occur over the course of the year.

As a beekeeper, you will constantly be challenged to find ways to assist your honeybee colonies in thriving. Although this could be had at times, it is also part of the fun of this rewarding and fun occupation or hobby!

Beekeeping Is Financially Challenging

Starting your beekeeping hobby can break the bank a bit. You can easily pay high amounts of all the starting equipment you will need to get started. Factors that will cost you heavily are things like buying bees, hives, as well as other types of starting equipment.

 Suppose you are a hobbyist who wants all the best initial equipment. In that case, the chances are that you will most probably easily spend a considerable amount of money during your first year of beekeeping. You most likely will not be getting much of your money back in the first year.

 If you are considering commercial beekeeping, it roughly will require a five-figure investment.

Most people who decide to keep bees commercially don’t make most of their money from selling honey, as you would think. Most of their profit comes from renting their hives out to assist in pollinating large farms!

What You Need To Start Beekeeping

Becoming a beekeeper was one of the best choices I have made thus far in my life. A lot of people want to know how to get into beekeeping in the first place, but for such an important and fascinating hobby, it doesn’t get a lot of interest.

The information on how to become a beekeeper is often not learned. However, if you are reading this, you have already taken the very first and important step towards being a beekeeper- being ready to learn what is involved and how you can plan. Let’s discuss whether beekeeping is right for you.

Money

Unfortunately, you have to be willing to spend money in order to make money. When getting into any hobby or career, you have to have some capital available. Keeping bees comes with a lot of financial costs, such as purchasing your hive or hives, beekeeping equipment, and of course, your bees!

You might be wondering how to budget for your newfound beekeeping expedition. You will be happy to know that in the broad spectrum of interests and other hobbies, beekeeping is not at the most expensive end of the spectrum.

In terms of beekeeping equipment, these are some of the basics you will need to budget for:

  • A beekeeping suit.
  • A pair of gloves.
  • A pair of boots.
  • A bee smoker.
  • A hive tool.
  • A hive
  • And… BEES!

When comparing the art of beekeeping to several other hobbies also containing a “technical” factor, the list above isn’t a huge list of things. Some of these items may be on the expensive side, but you can’t visit your local shopping mall to purchase a colony of honeybees!

The Wonderful Awards Of Beekeeping

With all the information stated above, you might be thinking, “If beekeeping is such work, why to go through the effort at all?” You have got to put out money up front, spend lots of time studying your bees and learning how to care for them correctly, and know-how to check up on them regularly.

What are the rewards that come along with being a beekeeper?

Honey.

Having lots of honey is probably the biggest reward that comes with being a beekeeper. Most beekeepers aim to produce fresh honey and honey products.

A single bee can produce 1/12 teaspoon of honey in her lifetime (Which is about 6 weeks), and if you have a colony consisting of thousands of honeybees, it can quickly add up to a lot of honey.

Beeswax.

Beeswax is another popular product that comes from your honeybees. Worker honey bees produce wax from special glands located in their abdomen. The beeswax is formed into a honeycomb and then becomes the structure of their home.

We as humans also use beeswax frequently, as it is used in many cosmetic products and candle-making. Many lipsticks and creams also contain beeswax, and as a beekeeper, you can even learn how to make your own beeswax lip balm. How exciting!

Pollination.

If you want a better yield from your gardens and orchards, honey bees can help you tons! Raising honey bees will ensure better pollination of flowering plants.

Honey bees are literally the heroes of pollination efforts for almost all of our modern agriculture. However, the roles of native bee species should never be overlooked.

Bees are reliable and diligent workers.

There is a reason why the saying goes, “busy as a bee.” Bees are constant hard workers, and they do not require constant monitoring in order for them to do their job correctly.

If you have a colony of healthy and well-managed bees, they will produce enough honey and wax that you can either use yourself or sell for some extra profits.

On average, you can expect to spend an hour per week on colony management during the hotter seasons of the year. It would be good to note that you may need to help your bees properly in colder climates.

Beekeeping will satisfy your curiosity.

If you are somebody who loves learning and knowing all about science and biology, beekeeping will be the perfect hobby or occupation for you!

It is forever fascinating to look into your bees’ private lives and see how your hive operates. It is really fulfilling and rewarding to watch your hive grow and develop over time.

By owning bees and practicing the art of beekeeping, you will learn how your bees work. This includes seeing firsthand how the eggs are produced, how larvae are fed, how your bees continuously search for flowers and pollen, and how they make their delicious honey!

 It is great to learn about all these beautiful things out of a book, but it is even more rewarding and cool to see it happen right before your very eyes!

Beekeeping helps the environment.

If you don’t live in a place with many natural pollinating insects, you can help your garden while also helping the environment! By keeping bees, you will increase the amount of pollen that is spread between plants in your area.

This will lead to having more healthy and green plants around your home, both ones that produce fresh food and ones that are pleasant to look at.

The community of beekeepers is wonderful!

You might be surprised if you hear how many other beekeepers there are in your area! Many backyard beekeepers will not go out of their way to make it known, but they are definitely out there.

There will most likely be a beekeeper’s association in your area. They are usually very friendly and open-minded people, eager and willing to help any new beekeepers who share their love and passion for bees.

The Hard Parts Of Beekeeping

Non-Natives

While we as beekeepers want to manage our honey bees for their pollination, and of course, honey, there is some concern that honey bees are out-competing our native bees in the wild. Honey bees are non-natives.

Wild, solitary bees are the super-pollinators of all of our plants and flowers. If you are getting bees to pollinate your food and not produce honey or honey products, consider a solitary bee house, to encourage native plants and wildflowers in your area.

Bee stings

Stings can and will happen when you have honey bees. It is crucial that you visit your doctor first to determine whether you are one of the unlucky people who has an allergy to honey bee stings.

 It is good to note that even if you are not allergic to honey bee stings, stings are still painful. If you learn how to manage your hives correctly, your hive will lessen their severe stinging episodes.

The cost of beekeeping supplies

The initial cost that comes along with starting beekeeping can be intimidating to any new beekeeper. You will need to invest in supplies such as a hive, proper and good quality protective clothing, a smoker, as well as a hive tool.

You can often find starter kits that come with bees, boxes, and gear, for a more affordable price.

Your first year of being a beekeeper will be difficult.

With learning the ins and outs of practicing beekeeping, you may run the risk of not getting honey for your own use. Your bees will have a lot of fo work to do during the first season.

They will need to produce wax and raise young bees while still being able to store enough honey for Winter. You will need to learn to be patient with yourself, as well as your bees.

Bees are susceptible to diseases

As you might already know, bee populations have been declining for years on end. Pesticides, parasites, and bee diseases are the most common troubles encountered by bees, and more often than not, there is no reasonable explanation for an unhealthy or dying hive.

It is crucial to learn how to keep your bees healthy and inquire and act on any problems other beekeepers in your area might have had or are still having!

When You Should Not Be A Beekeeper

Beekeeping is really a fantastic hobby and occupation, but you will have to be passionate about it. If you are doing it just for the honey, it will be much easier and faster for you to just pick up a jar of honey from your local shopping mall or grocery store.

You shouldn’t be doing it just for the profits, either. You may make a small income from your beehive if you sell your honey and other bee byproducts. However, generally, the money will only be enough to cover the proper ongoing upkeep of your hives.

For the amount of time, effort, and money you will put into beekeeping, your hives will pay out less than minimum wage.

Lastly, it is never a good idea to start beekeeping because you think it will be easy. After all, it certainly is not. Beekeeping is also not the type of hobby you can just put down or leave for a few months at a time and pick up again later.

A beehive is an entire colony of hundreds of beautiful living things that require your constant and regular attention. Think of them as your pets. Will you leave your dog for months on end without looking after them or checking up on them? Of course not!

Conclusion

Make sure that you know what you are getting yourself into when you decide to be a bee guardian! Beekeeping might seem like a nice and casual hobby, but it requires regular and constant effort!

Do the proper research about whether you can keep bees in your area, read and study everything and anything about bees that you can, and remember to ask yourself why you want to be a beekeeper and make sure it is for the right reasons.

In my opinion, beekeeping is 100% work done. You just need to know what lies ahead if you decide to pursue it. By setting reasonable and realistic expectations for yourself and your bees and knowing what beekeeping actually entails, I hope to help make you stick with beekeeping for years to come!

Jaco Stander

My name is Jaco Stander. I’m from Cape Town, South Africa. I’m a registered beekeeper with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development in South Africa. Registration number WC808. I live on a small holding where I keep my 16 beehives. Taking care of bees is a very rewarding feeling, contributing to keep our bee colonies growing and thriving, and as a bonus, enjoying that sweet pure raw honey!

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