Beekeeping is steadily gaining interest, and this gratifying hobby offers plenty of benefits that extend beyond honey. Many beekeepers enjoy the personal connection to nature and living things, while others appreciate being part of the beekeeping community. Your garden and neighborhood plants benefit, too: The bees from your hive will be hard at work foraging and pollinating plants within at least a two mile radius. Explore these seven benefits of becoming a beekeeper.
Beekeepers are constantly learning: Flight patterns, comb-building habits, bee communication, bee lining, and brood-rearing are just some of the many fascinating topics you’ll learn about through keeping bees. A colony is a living organism, with every bee from the newest worker to the all-important queen operating together in harmony. Even in winter, you can listen for the gentle hum inside the hive that lets you know they’re active. You’ll learn from observing your bees at work, and learn year-round through virtual or in-person classes and beekeeping books. There’s no end to what you’ll find as you raise these fascinating fliers.
People of all ages can enjoy beekeeping, and it’s accessible to almost anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Years ago, beekeepers had to learn carpentry just to build their own hive. Now, you can buy complete beekeeping kits, and beekeeping supplies can usually be had on-demand from your equipment supplier.
Beekeeping isn’t limited by location: You can plan an apiary based on your available space whether you live in a rural, suburban, or urban setting. There are accessibility options for those with mobility issues, too. Some hives and equipment are specially designed for wheelchair accessibility, and you can alter existing hives to suit your needs. The beekeeping community offers abundant support and resources, and reaching out puts you on the path to success.
When you become a beekeeper, you can learn from others who enjoy bees as much as you do. Your fellow beekeepers possess a wealth of information; look to them as you learn about honey bee care. Connect with the beekeeping community through social media, find your nearest beekeeping club or association, or ask nearby beekeepers if they’ll serve as your local mentor. Beekeeping associations and clubs often have loaner honey extractors and other equipment available for members to borrow when starting their new hobby.
Pollinators like honey bees are beneficial, but their future is uncertain. Honey bee and wild bee populations have faced serious challenges and threats in recent years, so keeping bees can give you a way to ensure the presence of pollinators for future generations. As part of the beekeeper community, you can spread the word about how important bees are to all of our lives. Start a neighborhood bee club, encourage discussion about pollinator health, and invite people to observe the beekeeping process—you may even inspire others to take up the hobby!
The benefits of apiculture extend to local agriculture. Aside from their master pollination skills, bees are fantastic teachers. As a beekeeper, many of the lessons you learn about honey bee care apply to plants as well. Beekeepers must pay close attention to the weather conditions and make hive adjustments, which can also translate to improving weather-related care for crops. Beekeeping also teaches you about the basic process of cross-pollination, how to identify beneficial and unfriendly insects, and proper pesticide use, which will also help you manage the health of your garden. Plugging into the worlds of beekeeping and gardening at the same time will keep you totally in tune with the natural world around you.
No longer limited to rural areas, urban beekeeping is more popular than ever. Urban beekeepers are setting up hives in residential and city areas that once seemed inhospitable to honey bees. Because of the high flower biodiversity in a city location, with some considerations for bee and human safety urban bees often thrive. Urban beekeeping brings nature closer, so you can enjoy a little bit of serenity in the middle of busy city life.
Urban beekeeping is a hobby that only requires a small footprint—rooftops are popular for city bee hives. Your bees can improve the neighborhood’s ecosystem as they pollinate plants in parks and gardens, which promotes fruiting and seed production. Community garden members may even provide space for hives because they’ll reap benefits, too.
Though most people think first about honey from the hive, beeswax is valuable as well. Wax is the natural material used by young worker bees when building honeycomb. Once rendered—melted and filtered—beeswax can be used to produce natural products for use at home, to give as gifts, or to include on your sales table:
Last but not least, beekeeping yields the most delicious reward: raw honey, straight from your own hives. It takes patience and dedication to your colony to get it—but the result is worth the effort. Add it to your tea or toast, use it in place of sugar, or eat it straight from the comb; no matter how you prefer it, honey is a favorite natural sweetener. If you collect a large amount of honey, don’t worry: it never expires. Once it’s jarred, keep it tightly sealed, tucked away in a cool place out of direct sunlight and it’ll be ready when you need it.
There’s a high demand for honey; the U.S. consumes much more honey than it can produce. Honey and honey products are always popular at the farmers market. Sell the honey and beeswax products you produce to the people in your community who prefer to buy from local vendors. Package and store your product in our honey bottles or cut comb honey containers, and include pre-printed and custom labels for your honey containers so customers know where to get more.
Once you establish your first bee hive, you’ll be hooked on beekeeping—and the related benefits. For more information on becoming a beekeeper, attend our beekeeping classes and events.