12 Reasons to Become a Beekeeper

Want to become a beekeeper?

Here are some great reasons to get started in beekeeping!

There are countless reasons to become a beekeeper. Each beekeeper has their own reasons for getting into beekeeping, below are just a few of the many reasons you might want to become a beekeeper too!

1.) Pollination

Many long time gardeners have observed a decrease in the number of honey bees pollinating their fruits and vegetables and subsequently a decrease in productivity. Becoming a beekeeper can have a direct impact on your fruit and vegetable production as well as that of other gardeners within the more than 2 mile foraging range of your honey bees. Pollination is vital to the propagation of many common garden fruits and vegetables and keeping bees is an effective way to help increase pollination.

2.) Save the honey bee

The plight of the honey bee is well known. In addition to the mystery of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and the fears concernng pesticide use, a parasitic mite has decimated the honey bee population. It is believed that 90% of feral honey bee colonies and 50% of managed colonies died after the Verroa Mite spread throughout the U.S. in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The Verroa mite continues to be the biggest threat to bees. This huge loss of feral bees as well as managed honey bees has made an even greater need for new beekeepers to take up beekeeping and build up the honey bee population. With out honey bees many of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts we love will be gone and the cost of many others will rise considerably due to a large drop in yields. Want to do your part and stop the decline, become a beekeeper!

3.) Honey

Honey is the sweet reward for a job well done. Honey is good for you and makes everything sweeter. Its healing and beneficial properties are continuing to be discovered. The U.S. consumes much more honey that we produce and therefore if you choose to sell your honey you have a local market just waiting to buy it. Honey should not be your first reason for getting into beekeeping, because it may cause you to overlook the time and effort that it takes to keep bees, but it is definitely one of the many wonderful reasons to become a beekeeper.

4.) Sustainability

Many are searching for ways to be more self-sufficient and live a more sustainable life style. Keeping bees is a great first step down this path!  When done right, a beekeeper can sustain their hive numbers through a process of splits to replace bee losses and grow their beekeeping operation.

As far as small scale farming, compared to purchasing chickens and a chicken coop, goats and fencing, or other livestock, beekeeping is an affordable step into a sustainable lifestyle. Beehives also take much less space than chickens and goats and can be located in your backyard or even rooftop. Making beekeeping a first step to a sustainable lifestyle for many.

5.) Inexpensive hobby

Raising honey bees does require a monetary investment, but when compared to other hobbies is rather inexpensive. Think about the startup cost to woodworking such as; table saw ($200-$500), router ($100), planer ($300), band saw ($200), lumber and so on (this is not to say I don’t love woodworking).

In addition to being less expensive than many start up hobbies, their is a built in market for recouping costs. While carpenters can sell their products, their is a built in market for local honey. You will be surprised when you bottle your first honey harvest how many people are looking for it!

6.) Bees keep you learning

If you enjoy learning, especially science, you will love being a beekeeper! There is so much science behind beekeeping. For example, learning how honey bees search and find a new home site, communicate that discovery, and agree to simultaneously move their swarm to that new location, as described in Honeybee Democracy by Thomas Seeley, is fascinating. And it’s only the beginning!

Equally as interesting is research described by Jürgen Tautz in his amazing book The Buzz about Bees: Biology of a Superorganism. Tautz explains how honey bees work together so closely that the colony as a whole resembles an organism in itself. Honey bees have even been studied for their abilities to be trained (in record time) to detect explosives, drugs, and even cancer. I could go on, but in short; if you love learning, you will love beekeeping!

7.) Connect with the environment

Becoming a beekeeper will immediately increase your awareness of the environment around you. Starting with an increased interest in the weather, which has a definite impact on your honey production. You will begin to care about and follow what is currently in bloom so that you know what pollen and nectar sources your bees are able to get food from. You will want to educate yourself about what row crops are being planted in your area and what types of pesticides are being sprayed on them. When you become a beekeeper your bees’ success depends on the environment around you and you will therefore find yourself paying closer attention to it.

8.)  The thrill

Keeping bees comes with its fair share of adrenaline rushes. Its starts with the first time you install your bees, a moment you will never forget. Then there is the first time you see a swarm of bees exiting a hive and swirling in the air around you (one of the most thrilling things I have ever experienced). Even the inspection of a full hive with 1,000s of bees buzzing before you; it’s…..thrilling!

9.) You get to light fires

Maybe it’s a guy thing, but I have always loved lighting a campfire. Now that I am a beekeeper I get to do this every week! So if you’re like me, believe it or not, this can be a fun part of beekeeping.

10.) Connect to your community

Whether you live in a small town or large city, when you keep bees and sell honey you build a connection to your community in a unique way. You will be surprised how many people are out there that want to buy your local honey, and are thrilled when they find you. With any luck they will keep coming back to get more year after year.

11.) For the love of bees

Honey bees are fascinating! Just the fact that honey bees can fly 3 miles to collect nectar and return home again to their hive without getting lost is amazing. More unbelievable is the fact that the location of the nectar was communicated to that bee by a waggle dance preformed inside a pitch black hive, detected by the foragers antenna, and then translated to an exact distance and direction. The secret life of these little creatures has been further revealed to us in incredible new ways in recent years through documentaries such as More Than Honey and Vanishing of the Bees. By becoming a beekeeper you join this fascinating world!

12.) Beekeeper Comradery

Beekeepers are a unique bunch. It’s been said we beekeepers are somewhere between farmers and crazies. This may be the reason beekeepers share a unique comradery with one another.

13.) Beekeeping is fun for the whole Family!

Bonus, because why not? My kids LOVE beekeeping. They don’t all get into and work the hives with me but they each have roles based on their age. For my 3 year old son, that is suiting up and saying “oooh and aahhh” and “dat is a billion a bees, daddy!” And this makes him a beekeeper.

Honey BeeMy older kids help plan where to sell honey, determine prices, and design labels. They love having our “business meetings” around the kitchen table. They especially love that they own one of the hives (bought on loan and paid off with their “Honey Money”) and are responsible for its costs and benefit from its income.

The kids even made a “bee village” this winter during a warm snap in which they developed a honey bee watering hole that was very popular with the local honey bees!

Conclusion

These are just 12 13 of the many Reasons to become a beekeeper. If you ready to take the next step and become a beekeeper, Newbee University is where you can get your start!

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