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Beekeeper Apiarist, apiculturist

Beekeepers manage colonies of honeybees kept in hives to produce  honey, beeswax and royal jelly. 

Salary, a pound sign Salary: Variable average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements, but many beekeepers start out by taking up keeping bees as a hobby. You’ll need the right skills and knowledge to successfully set up healthy colonies of honeybees.

You could join a local branch of the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) where you'll receive advice and guidance on starting out from experienced beekeepers.

If you’re aged under 18 you can choose to take the BBKA Junior Certificate.

If you’re new to beekeeping you can also work towards the Lantra level 1 Award in Introduction to Beekeeping. 

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • strong organisation and planning skills
  • attention to detail
  • the ability to maintain and repair beekeeping equipment
  • good physical fitness, to carry and lift equipment
  • business skills, if self-employed

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • building, inspecting or repairing hives
  • introducing a new colony or maintaining an existing one
  • feeding or checking the health of your bees
  • monitoring the size of your colony and amount of honey produced
  • treating your hive and bees to fight disease and pests
  • collecting honey from hives
  • preparing and bottling honey
  • marketing honey and products like beeswax
  • mentoring or training new beekeepers, once experienced
  • breeding queen bees and smaller, starter or ‘nucleus’ bee colonies

4. Salary

Your income could vary widely and depend on the number of hives you keep and the amount of honey or related products you produce.

Many beekeepers keep bees as a hobby while doing another job.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

Your working hours will vary depending on the time of year and the number of hives you have. You’ll spend more time inspecting your hives during the spring and summer when the bees are active and producing honey.

Most of your work will take place outdoors. Bees don’t react well to being handled in wet and cold weather so you may use this time to maintain your equipment or process your honey and other products like royal jelly.

You’ll usually wear special clothes to protect you from bee stings. This can include a bee suit and veil, boots and bee gloves.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could move into commercial beekeeping and develop more hives over a wider area. 

You could also train new beekeepers.

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Last updated: 21 December 2016