Each month we take a look at one of the 650 career pathways featured within Indigo. This month we’re exploring the role of a Beekeeper.
Find out what’s involved in the role from this excerpt from the career profile on the Indigo Careers module.
So what is a Bee Keeper?
Beekeepers keep honeybees in hives and harvest their honey for human consumption.
Beekeepers have the responsibility of building and maintaining beehives. This includes checking the health of your bees and repairing the hives.
Most beekeepers will work an average of 37 to 42 hours a week, but it is common for people in this industry sector to be self-employed and work flexible hours.
You will mostly be working outside on a bee farm and should be prepared to work in all weathers.
It’s important for beekeepers to wear protective clothing, known as a bee suit, to avoid sustaining any injuries.
Type of work
You will most likely breed queen bees and start and introduce new colonies.
You will need to fight pests and disease by treating your bees and their hives.
Beekeepers collect honey from the hives and often prepare and bottle it for sale. You may also need to market and sell your products, such as honey, beeswax and royal jelly.
Things to consider
Can run your own business
Many beekeepers work freelance or own their own businesses.
There is little progression opportunity in beekeeping unless you get a science qualification to advance into the field of research.
Beekeeping presents opportunities to work flexibly and choose your own hours.
Risk of injury/accident
Beekeeping comes with a risk of injury, but you will be required to wear protective clothing to prevent this.
Make a difference
Beekeeping is a rewarding career due to the job’s positive environmental impact.
Most people have a 5 GCSEs and you will need previous experience/passion for the field
There are no official qualifications needed to become a beekeeper. Most people have a minimum of 5 GCSEs/National 5s at grade C or above, or 4–9 in England, and a keen interest in bees and the environment.
A great way to get into beekeeping is to join your local Beekeepers Association branch and learn the craft from experienced beekeepers. You will have mentors and there will be opportunities to take trips to your local apiary and learn how to handle, and take care of, bees. Beekeeping courses run through the spring and summer and regular talks are held during the winter.
The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) offers courses to help you obtain beekeeping qualifications. For example, most beekeepers begin with the Introduction to Beekeeping course, which covers the basic skills and knowledge you will require before eventually becoming a Master Beekeeper. It’s possible to achieve a Basic, Intermediate Theory and Advanced Theory certificate. Another route into the industry sector is to take a college course, such as the Lantra Level 1 Award in Introduction to Beekeeping.
Reading books on beekeeping such as ‘Keeping Bees’ by Pam Gregory and Claire Waring will be of great benefit in helping you learn the craft of beekeeping.
Beekeeper salaries vary depending on whether you are self-employed or work for a larger company. As you develop your hobby into a career, you can expect to start on a salary of £8,000. With experience, this will increase to around £15,000. If you’re working for a commercial bee farm, you may earn between £20,000–£25,000.
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