You may have noticed that beekeeping can be a lot of work. Beekeepers have to tend to colonies of thousands of bees and make sure that everything is just right. They are constantly fighting off pests, such as mites and ants, while also ensuring that the bees are producing enough honey to survive winter. So, why do people do it? What are the advantages of beekeeping?
Most people get into beekeeping because it is so interesting. The way bees work together to make honey is truly fascinating. Other than that, the advantages of beekeeping are honey, pollination, and to help bees. Beekeeping can also be profitable, so it’s nice to have a hobby that can generate income.
What Are The Advantages of Beekeeping?
The first thing people think of when they think of beekeeping is honey. Honey is the most popular resource harvested from beehives. There is nothing like harvesting your own honey. Give some local, freshly harvested honey a taste and you will agree that store bought honey cannot compare at all.
Honey has health benefits too. It is actually used as both a food and a medicine. Honey is rich in antioxidants, which reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Eating honey can also help your blood pressure. Antioxidant compounds in honey have been linked to lower blood pressure. Honey has also been shown to lower bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol.
Manuka honey, a special honey made in New Zealand is used to treat wounds and for skin care. Manuka honey’s antibacterial properties reduce the healing time of wounds while aiding in tissue regeneration.
Honey is also good for profit. A strong colony can produce 60-80 pounds of harvestable honey. Of course you can’t eat all of that yourself (even though honey doesn’t spoil) so it’s a good idea to sell your honey. If you’ve ever seen farm fresh honey sold at specialty stores or farmer’s markets you know that it isn’t exactly cheap. The cost of local honey depends on your area, but it isn’t uncommon for local honey to sell for $10 – $20 a jar.
Another advantage of beekeeping is pollination. Plants need bees to pollinate them so they can reproduce. Bees do this naturally when they are foraging for pollen and nectar. Basically, pollen from the plant’s stamen gets stuck on the bee. When she goes to another flower the pollen falls off onto the plant’s stigma. This is what needs to happen for fruits and vegetables to develop.
Gardners love bees because it is impossible to have a bountiful garden without pollinators. So for them, pollination is a major advantage of beekeeping. Currently, honey bees contribute $20 billion to the US crop production. But home gardeners definitely benefit from bees as well. Even a simple mason bee house can help gardeners get their plants pollinated.
Lastly, beekeeping is simply fun! It’s great to be around the bees and be a part of nature. You get to witness something truly amazing when caring for bees. It’s also a rewarding experience to get to share beekeeping, or even just knowledge about bees with others.
Once your hive is set up and your bees are settled in, beekeeping is relatively low maintenance. Hive checks can take as little as half an hour, depending on how many hives you have.
Does Beekeeping Help Bees?
It’s no secret that bee populations are in decline. Last winter US beekeepers lost nearly 40% of their colonies. Some people have decided to get into beekeeping to help restore the bee population. But does beekeeping help bees?
The answer is yes, and no. First we must look at the reason for the loss of bees. Bees are dying off because they live in an unhealthy environment. They need to forage to survive, and lately they have no choice but to forage on pesticide laden plants. Bees with poor nutrition are unable to fight off pests and disease.
Buying bees and a hive without addressing what the bees will eat does not help bees. However, beekeeping does help bees in that it is a great way to spread awareness of the problem. To really help bees we need to plant more flowers. Beekeeping is a great way to motivate this change.
As the popularity of the #savethebees hashtag is, it’s evident that people are interested in helping bees. And luckily, people who are interested in beekeeping will also likely be enthusiastic about planting flowering plants for them.
If you are interested in helping bees without becoming a beekeeper you can do the following things:
- Plant a pollinator garden (and don’t use pesticides on it)
- Leave out water for bees
- Keep mason bees
How Profitable is Beekeeping?
Some people get into beekeeping for profit. There are a few ways to make money from beekeeping. You can sell honey, beeswax, and propolis. Beekeepers also make money by renting their hives to farmers for pollination. But how profitable is beekeeping?
Beekeeping profit depends on how many hives you have and how much honey you harvest.
It’s hard to give an exact amount beekeepers make because it varies a lot. The amount of honey that is harvestable is dependant on weather, bee health, and other environmental factors. According to careerexplorer.com, beginner beekeepers can make $21,795 a year, while top level beekeepers can make $61,661 per year.
Beekeeping Profit Per Hive
One strong hive can be expected to produce up to 100 pounds of harvestable honey per year. However, there are many factors that can cause a lower yield. Temperature, weather, and disease can cause less honey to be produced.
So, let’s be conservative and say your hive makes 70 pounds of harvestable honey. People pay more for fresh, local honey, so you can expect to charge at least $10 a pound. That means that your beekeeping profit per hive would be $700. The more hives you have, the more profit you will make.
Beekeepers also make money by renting their hives out to farmers. Farmers pay good money to have bees pollinate their fields. Depending on the season and area, farmers pay $50 – 180 per colony for commercial pollination.
So what are the advantages of beekeeping? Beekeeping brings many benefits. People get into beekeeping for honey, for pollination, and for fun. Beekeeping can also be profitable. But how profitable depends on how many hives you have and how much honey you harvest.