How to Become a Beekeeper
Beekeeper Careers & Degrees

Beekeepers, also known as Apiarists, are specialized professionals that are responsible for the upkeep of several colonies of honey bees and hives that are maintained for the production of honey, beeswax and pollination efforts.

Individuals who want to become a Beekeeper will need a combination of experience, education and innate qualities to enter this field.

Individuals who want to enter this profession also need to be able to handle the stress and attention to detail needed to control not hundreds of colonies of bees all at once.

Education Requirements to Become a Beekeeper

Individuals who would like to become a Beekeeper will need to gain experience in order to seek a job in this profession.

Although not a requirement, many skilled Beekeepers are also prepared to join this field by securing a bachelor’s degree.

Interested individuals may begin their experience by securing an apprenticeship under an experienced Beekeeper.

Some larger production facilities also offer weekend or night classes for novice learners who want to become a Beekeeper or who are interested in it as a hobby.

Individuals who seek apprenticeship opportunities will learn the ropes of the Beekeeping trade by working closely with an experienced Beekeeper.

During an apprenticeship, individuals at the entry level will learn the basics on how to treat a colony of bees and be responsible for completing simple tasks under the eye of an experienced professional.

Individuals who want to pursue a postsecondary background to become a Beekeeper may complete a 4 year bachelor’s degree.

A limited number of schools offer programs that specialize in Beekeeping such as Cornell University and the University of Florida.

Many individuals enter this field by completing a 4 year bachelor’s degree in animal science, biological science or a similar related field.

If interested in conservationist efforts, individuals may also attend graduate school to study Agricultural Management and Entomology.

Beekeeper Job Description

Beekeepers keep to a busy schedule and may be required to work long hours during the summer peak season as warmer weather requires a careful eye on beehives and bee colonies.

This may require some individuals to work nights, weekends and holidays during this time.

Beekeepers are responsible for maintaining and handling honey bee colonies and hives for the pollination of flowers and production of honey; their job is to also maintain the overall health of a beehive and keep it in good condition.

Because a colony of bees can be dangerous and sometimes deadly, Beekeepers must maintain a level of safety before preparing for daily tasks.

Being protected does require professionals to wear safety gear such as: safety goggles, suits, veils and gloves.

This requires individuals to be covered from head to toe as to not allow room for even one stray bee to enter the suit.

In addition, Beekeepers use special tools such as hive tools and bee smokers to be able to access honey or beeswax that a hive produces.

Some Beekeepers may be responsible for the production and processing of honey as well as bottling the honey produced.

For the most part, these professionals will also be responsible for the following:

  • Feeding bees
  • Nurturing queen bees and replacing them when needed
  • Replacing combs when needed
  • Separating colonies when needed
  • Cleaning and building hives
  • Determine whether a hive is healthy and document observations
  • Document any activity, whether medication was administrated and the production of any honey

Beekeeper Salary and Career Path

The median annual wage for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural professionals, which includes the Beekeeper profession, was approximately $69,300 in 2012.

There are many factors that can impact exact wages including weather conditions.

If weather conditions affect the production of honey in any way, it can potentially affect a Beekeeper’s bottom line.

Exact wages will depend on production and the regional area a Beekeeper works in.

Job projections as a whole for farmers, rancher and other agricultural professionals is expected to decline by 19 percent through 2022.

However, this number is for this industry as a whole and the job outlook may look different due to the environmental changes that occur each year.

As consumers, the details of how honey or beeswax are produced are not common knowledge.

Individuals interested in pursuing a career as a Beekeeper will learn the ins and outs of this popular sweetener as well as having a hand in keeping an important species alive that’s needed for the cross pollination of plants and flowers.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$27,780
$23K
$23K
$27K
$29K
$36K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$22,400
Alaska$32,320
Arizona$26,880
Arkansas$22,190
California$27,550
Colorado$33,490
Connecticut$29,820
Delaware$30,000
District of Columbia$40,260
Florida$24,930
Georgia$24,720
Hawaii$34,920
Idaho$25,970
Illinois$31,350
Indiana$27,740
Iowa$31,950
Kansas$30,110
Kentucky$28,920
Louisiana$25,290
Maine$31,810
Maryland$32,890
Massachusetts$34,390
Michigan$27,120
Minnesota$34,280
Mississippi$25,170
Missouri$30,240
Montana$29,630
Nebraska$32,250
Nevada$29,380
New Hampshire$30,370
New Jersey$31,170
New Mexico$21,820
New York$32,660
North Carolina$25,460
North Dakota$31,750
Ohio$27,740
Oklahoma$29,030
Oregon$28,130
Pennsylvania$32,070
Rhode Island$36,100
South Carolina$26,860
South Dakota$28,960
Tennessee$24,360
Texas$24,150
Utah$26,700
Vermont$33,740
Virginia$28,170
Washington$30,830
West Virginia$25,560
Wisconsin$27,200
Wyoming$35,680
Guam$20,620
Puerto Rico$20,020

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $40,260.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $40,260
Rhode Island - $36,100
Wyoming - $35,680
Hawaii - $34,920
Massachusetts - $34,390
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop, Nursery, and Greenhouse, OCC Code 45-2092, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat is a beekeeper?

A beekeeper is someone who keeps honey bees.

Honey bees produce honey and beeswax that are later sold on local, national and international markets.

Beekeepers also raise queen bees to sell to other farmers and help vegetable and fruit farms with the pollination process.

One of the daily tasks of a beekeeper is to build, inspect and repair hives.

Beekeepers also must know how to feed and check the health of their bees and how to monitor the size of a colony.

In order to be a successful beekeeper, you need strong organizational and planning skills and attention to detail.

You also need good physical fitness to be able to move the hives.

If you want to be self-employed you will also need good business skills.

QuestionHow much does a beekeeper make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers was $67,950 in May of 2018.

Income in the beekeeping business varies depending on weather conditions.

Production levels fluctuate depending on the time of the year and the region.

Worker honey bees forage mostly in spring and summer months when plants are producing nectar and pollen.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a beekeeper?

If you want to get a job at a beekeeping business, a high school diploma will usually be enough.

There are no educational requirements for this profession, but many beekeepers have a degree in animal science, entomology, biology or a related field.

The average annual out-of-state costs for bachelor’s degree programs in entomology are around $45,500.

Many community colleges also offer beekeeping classes which usually cost a few hundred hours, as part of the community education programs.

QuestionWhat is the demand for beekeepers?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers is expected to show little or no change from 2018 to 2028.

However, the beekeeping market is growing and this may lead to a greater demand for beekeepers.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a beekeeper?

Although it is not a requirement, a bachelor’s degree in animal science, biology or a related field, can help you learn the scientific aspects of beekeeping.

A bachelor’s degree in animal science can be completed in around four years.

Many community colleges also offer beekeeping classes as part of the community education programs.

There also many books and websites that explain the things you need to know about this business.

Learning from someone who has experience in this field is also a good idea.

Helping an experienced beekeeper with the daily administrative and production operations can help you gain hands-on experience.

If you want to open a business in the beekeeping field, a master’s degree in agribusiness can also be helpful.

You can start with only a few hives and then, as you learn more about this business, you can add more hives.

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