Beekeeping may take more effort than you thought.
Being a responsible beekeeper means more than having to worry about a few bee stings every now and then. Given a range of factors affecting the health and well-being of bees, bees need the proactive involvement of their beekeepers. That protection needs to come in a variety of ways in order to ensure the well-being of bees.
Given the many beekeeping challenges, being a beekeeper these days involves making a choice that should not be taken lightly.
Being a beekeeper is often thought of as a noble and gentle profession. It may well be—but being a beekeeper can challenge even the most physically-fit of people. For instance, hive boxes that are full of honey can in some cases weigh upwards of 100 pounds, and difficult to lift even for the buffest among us.
But being a beekeeper these days takes more than a strong back. In fact, the beekeeping challenges today are immense compared with what it took to be a beekeeper just twenty years ago. These challenges stem from a host of issues including the use and misuse of pesticides, disease, loss of habitat, varroa mites, Africanized bees in southern states, GMO crops, and other emerging issues.
It takes time, know-how and money to overcome these challenges. Think of what it might be like, for instance, if you were running a business that made auto parts, and each year you had to rebuild 40% or more of your factory because of losses sustained. Well, that’s not a far-fetched number when it comes to beekeeping, as each year, beekeepers lose that many beehives and more due to the range of factors just noted.
Given the range and seriousness of beekeeping challenges today, some would say that being a beekeeper is not for anyone other than the truly committed or the truly crazed.
Rewards of being a beekeeper
But caring for bees also has its rewards.
For one thing, bees need our help. Given the recent onset of the challenges just noted, bees are finding themselves in a very compromised state, to say the least. So if you’re willing to do what it takes to help in the process of keeping bees alive and healthy, then you’re doing something good for bees…and that in and of itself can be very rewarding.
Related to this, being a beekeeper also means you’re doing something good for the planet. Estimates vary, though generally speaking, bees are responsible for pollinating roughly thirty-three percent of our food supply worldwide. Bees also play a critical role in helping to pollinate most of the many wild plants around the world.
So, the rewards of being a beekeeper have a lot to do with the good feelings that come from doing something that makes a difference to the well-being of the planet that we all share.
Weighing the challenges and rewards
Do the challenges of beekeeping outweigh the rewards? Well…there’s no question that the challenges are daunting, even for the most experienced commercial beekeepers. The nature of beekeeping has changed dramatically in the last twenty years—so much so that only those who have a very large commitment to bees, might find the work rewarding.
One key question looking to the future is, given the challenges, where will all our future beekeepers come from.
Learn more about being a beekeeper
We invite you to read more about being a beekeeper, by visiting other pages on this site, and by visiting the other bee-related websites to which this site links.
Links to related resources: being a beekeeper
- USDA Report on Honey Bee Colony Health 2016
- U.S. Honey Bee Industry Report-2015 (Bee Culture magazine)
- Monsanto Report: U.S. Beekeeping Industry