Interested in Becoming a Beekeeper?

Friday, January 22, 2016
By: Sarah Myers, Bayer North American Bee Care Program, Bee Team Apiarist and Outreach Coordinator
Sarah Myers, Bayer Beekeeper

Sarah Myers serves as the resident apiarist at the Bayer Bee Care Center in RTP, North Carolina. In addition, as a beekeeper for nine years, she has 20 honey bee hives and is part-owner of The Pleasant Bee, a business selling honey and other products from the hive at a local farmers market and several small retail stores. 


Beekeeping is not the career path I imagined as a business major at North Carolina State University. But as a non-science major, I still needed a science elective and thought beekeeping couldn’t be so bad.


I took a beekeeping class and from day one was fascinated by honey bees. It’s amazing how they captured my heart and mind. Being a beekeeper allows me to connect with nature and understand how pollinators play an integral role in daily life and the entire ecosystem. Observing a bee hive is relaxing and rewarding, and enjoying a little honey every now and then from the hives is also a benefit!


Are you interested in exploring or getting involved in a career or hobby in beekeeping? Below are some steps I recommend:


1. Locate your local beekeeping association. Associations are available at the State and most county levels.


2. Attend a beekeeping association meeting. Most meet once a month and have educational speakers on various topics in beekeeping. I also recommend joining their email list serve and signing up for a beginning beekeeper class, which is usually offered in the spring. The class will cover the basics of beekeeping, the equipment you’ll need, and will provide recommendations for local bee and equipment suppliers. Some classes offer a hands-on portion as well.


3. Read a book(s) on beekeeping. For a quick read and general overview, I recommend First Lessons in Beekeeping by Keith Delaplane. There are many great books out there!


4. Visit a local beekeeping supply store or browse online for needed equipment: hive tools, smoker, bee suite, hive box and frames. You may need time to assemble frames and build your equipment if you don’t purchase it preassembled. Building equipment makes for good winter indoor projects.


5. Locate a bee supplier to purchase a package or nuc of bees to get started in the spring. Bees are in high demand in the spring, so get on a list early before the season begins.


6. Find a local beekeeper to shadow or use as a mentor, and offer to help them with their hives. That’s the best experience – actually getting in the hives and seeing what it’s like. Plus, it’s always great to have a friend to help you along your journey!


7. Locate your state apiary inspectors contact information. This will be handy for any assistance you may require for hive inspections and overall health assessments.


8. Visit the Bayer Bee Care Center! Our tour provides great information about bees and beekeeping. I’d love to meet you and to answer any questions!


Additional Resources:


Beekeeping 101 – Questions to ask before diving into beekeeping.


Beekeeper Profiles – Stories from beekeepers about how they got started and what they enjoy about beekeeping.


Video: Stories From a Beekeeper – Sarah talks about how she got started in beekeeping.


Video: Bayer Bee Care Center Hive Demonstration – Sarah demonstrates what visitors see when a hive is opened.


Online beekeeping courses:


Beekeeping Association Links:


National – Regional:
American Beekeeping Federation
American Honey Producers Association
Eastern Apicultural Society
Heartland Apicultural Society
Western Apicultural Society


State:
Alabama – Alabama Beekeeping Association
Alaska – South Central Alaska Beekeepers Association
Arizona – Beekeepers Association of Central Arizona
Arkansas – Arkansas Beekeepers Association
California – California Beekeeping Association
Colorado – Colorado State Beekeepers Association
Connecticut – Connecticut Beekeepers Association
Delaware – Delaware Beekeepers Association
Florida – Florida Beekeepers Association
Georgia – Georgia Beekeepers Association
Hawaii – Hawai’i Beekeepers Association
Idaho – Treasure Valley Beekeepers Association
Illinois – Illinois State Beekeepers Association | Stateline Beekeepers Association
Indiana – Indiana Beekeepers Association
Iowa – Iowa Honey Producers Association | Stateline Beekeepers Association
Kansas – Northeastern Kansas Beekeepers’ Association
Kentucky – Kentucky State Beekeepers Association
Louisiana – Louisiana Beekeepers Association
Maine – Maine Beekeepers Association
Maryland – Maryland State Beekeepers Association, Inc.
Massachusetts – Massachusetts Beekeepers Association | Worcester County Beekeepers Association
Michigan – Michigan Beekeepers’ Association | Southeastern Michigan Beekeepers Association
Minnesota – Minnesota Honey Producers | Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers Association
Mississippi – Mississippi Beekeepers Association
Missouri – Missouri State Beekeepers Association
Montana – Department of Agriculture Apiary Program
Nebraska – Nebraska Beekeepers Association
Nevada – Nevada Beekeepers Association – President Rob Slay Email
New Hampshire – New Hampshire Beekeeper’ Association
New Jersey – New Jersey Beekeepers Association
New Mexico – New Mexico Beekeepers AssociationFacebook
New York – Catskill Mountains Beekeepers Club | Empire State Honey Producers Association | Long Island Beekeepers Association | New York City Beekeepers Association | Other New York State Bee Groups
North Carolina – North Carolina State Beekeepers Association
North Dakota – North Dakota Apiary Division
Ohio – Ohio State Beekeepers Association
Oklahoma – Oklahoma State Beekeepers Association
Oregon – Oregon State Beekeepers Association
Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania State Beekeepers Association
Rhode Island – Rhode Island Beekeepers Association
South Carolina – South Carolina Beekeepers Association
South Dakota – No state organization
Tennessee – Tennessee Beekeepers Association
Texas – Texas Beekeepers Association
Utah – Utah Beekeepers Association
Vermont – Vermont Beekeepers Association
Virginia – Virginia Beekeepers Association
Washington – Washington State Beekeepers Association
West Virginia – West Virginia Beekeepers Association
Wisconsin – Wisconsin Honey Producers Association | Stateline Beekeepers Association
Wyoming – No state organization


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