You probably already know how important bees are to our daily lives. No, it’s not because they produce honey (only honey bees produce honey) but it is also because of how they are important to the ecosystem since they are the best pollinators in the world. Still, you probably wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of a beekeeper taking care of different bees because of how the bees may sting you. So, what’s a day like in the life of a beekeeper?
Aside from the stinging, beekeepers go through difficult physical and mental tasks daily. However, at the same time, taking care of bees is somewhat fulfilling and relaxing for some beekeepers because of how it allows them to challenge themselves while feeling responsible and productive all at once.
For those who only look at beekeeping from a layman’s point of view, it might be a job or a hobby that you probably would never want to do because of all of the stinging that will happen. Nevertheless, the life of a beekeeper isn’t something that is full of pain and frustrations but is actually quite interesting, challenging, and relaxing all at the same time. Now, let’s get to know more about what it’s like to be a beekeeper.
Is it difficult to be a beekeeper?
We all know how great bees are as they are not merely flying stinging machines. Instead, bees are great for many different purposes, such as pollination. And, in most cases, bees are kept in bee farms, particularly because honey bees are capable of producing honey, which is one of the most sought-after natural products in the entire world.
However, when a layman watches videos of beekeepers, they might cringe at the thought of being in their place, especially when you see the bees swarming all over them. Merely watching these people putting their hands on the hive and checking the bees might give you chills, thinking about how it would probably be a bad day getting stung by thousands of bees flying all over you. That is why, from the standpoint of any third person, beekeeping might not be the most ideal job, endeavor, or hobby.
So, if you are merely judging from your own point of view, you might instantly say that the life of a beekeeper is difficult. But is it really that hard to be a beekeeper?
Aside from the stings, beekeeping can be a tough job both physically and mentally because, after all, you are taking care of an entire colony of bees and you have to be responsible enough to make sure that they are taken care of properly if you want them to stay healthy and to thrive.
From a physical standpoint, we are not talking about the stinging because that will always be a constant part of being a beekeeper. Instead, we are talking about how tough it can be to do plenty of different physical challenges (sometimes involving heavy lifting), especially when it’s time for you to harvest the honey. A medium-sized honey super that is full of honey can weigh more than 50 pounds, which is pretty heavy if you are not the biggest and strongest person out there.
Because of the physical part of being a beekeeper, plenty of different beekeepers actually complain of bad backs as they would constantly have to carry heavy objects. Moreover, you need to be considerably fit and strong to be able to become a beekeeper. So, if you want to make beekeeping a part of your daily life, you may want to lift some weights during your spare time to keep yourself strong enough to handle the job.
Even if you are not harvesting and lifting heavy objects, beekeeping can be physically taxing because of how you are often out there in the sun wearing protective gear that can feel like you are wearing a sauna suit. And if you would rather wear light protective gear, you are going to allow yourself to be vulnerable to bee stings. So, in that regard, even if you are not doing the heavy lifting, you are still going to end up suffering physically in other aspects as well.
From a mental standpoint, there are plenty of things that can make beekeeping mentally difficult. For one, bees are very fragile as they are susceptible to plenty of different diseases and can easily weaken if they are not kept and taken care of under the right conditions. Moreover, bees also have plenty of natural predators that you need to make sure to keep away from your colony, or else you would end up losing all of your bees.
Of course, another mentally taxing part of taking care of bees is the financial aspect. Beekeeping can be quite expensive when you are still starting out because of all of the different tools and equipment you would need to do your job well. And the worst part is that there is no assurance that you would end up getting any returns on this investment during the first harvest season. That is why you have to be willing to at least shell out a good chunk of change in your initial investment while understanding that you won’t be able to immediately get your returns quickly if you want to do this beekeeping thing 🙂
How many hours do beekeepers work?
Aside from all of the different difficulties you need to go through to take care of your bees properly, beekeeping can also take a sizeable chunk of your time, even if you are merely doing this on the side as one of your hobbies or side hustles.
Buying all of the different equipment may be important but it is not the most important part of the job because you have to make sure that you take care of your bees throughout the entire year, especially when it comes to how volatile the weather may be and how these insects are easily affected by the weather conditions. They require a different kind of care depending on the weather and the season, so learning to do that and adjusting to the various methods of care can take up time.
However, the good news here is that beekeepers won’t be required to spend an entire day taking care of their bees. In fact, you can even do this as a side hustle since it probably won’t often end up eating up an entire day. A few hours a day may be enough for you to be able to properly take care of your bees while, in some cases, there are beekeepers that only do this job during the weekends as they have other jobs during the weekdays.
Of course, we are assuming that as a new beekeeper you will be starting fairly small to begin with 🙂
So, in that regard, you should expect to spend somewhere between 15 to 30 days a year in total to look after a single hive. If you have more hives, expect yourself to spend more time. And this does not include all of the different initial prep work you need to do because you still have to include the time you spent preparing the equipment, learning how to take care of bees, and getting to know the ins and outs of harvesting honey.
But as soon as things start to normalize, you might not need to use up a ton of your time just to take care of your bees.
What’s the good side?
After all is said and done, even though beekeeping is quite difficult if you look at the physical, mental, and financial aspects, you would still find it a very fulfilling hobby or job not only because you might end up earning a good sum of money in the long run but also because it can make you feel relaxed and at ease despite how difficult the endeavor might be. A lot of people even say it helps them feel at one with nature!
The truth is that you will get used to the difficulties of being a beekeeper. Yes, the stings will always be there (although to a lesser extend as you gain experience) and you will always have to do the heavy lifting while getting soaked in your own sweat under the sun. But this can be therapeutic to a certain extent because of how it can give you a good workout. Moreover, it can also be exhilarating and highly rewarding when you finally master this magical ‘art’ of beekeeping and see the results:)
Another reason why beekeeping can be a great job or hobby is that it allows you to feel fulfilled, responsible, and productive all at the same time. After all, you are taking care of an entire colony, and it is your sole responsibility to make sure that your bees are given the best possible care so that you can see them thriving. It’s not even about the financial part of the equation here, but it is more of the fulfillment you get from being able to take care of these buzzing insects.
Overall, yes, beekeeping is very difficult to do, especially when you are still starting out and adjusting to the different tasks and responsibilities that are on your shoulders. However, once you get used to it and as soon as you see the bright side of beekeeping in terms of the financial returns and the fulfillment you get from being successful in this endeavor, it’s going to be a highly rewarding past time that is more than worth all the efforts you need to invest and the difficulties you need to go through.
We want you to be realistic here before diving in; it is a hard slog at times. But over the years I have met some really happy and fulfilled beekeepers, I can tell you. If you are still not sure, try to volunteer in someone else’s apiary before starting your own! Nothing worse than getting halfway and finding out you hate it!!