A beekeeper is someone who keeps honey bees in boxes or hives. Bees produce honey, pollen, royal jelly and beeswax. A beekeeper will also provide services to vegetable and fruit farmers for pollination purposes and raise queen bees to sell to other farmers.
If you love the outdoors, nature and animals, and are curious about how creatures contribute to our environment, then you'll probably be very intrigued by honey bees. If you like the idea of harvesting your own honey, and farming on a small scale, then chances are you'll enjoy being a beekeeper.
A beekeeper is, in essence, a manager of bees. He or she maintains and monitors the hives, and once the honey is ready to be harvested, will remove and process it for human consumption. A beekeeper needs to maintain healthy bees, prepare colonies for production, inspect colonies for any sign of disease and replace the queen bee when necessary. Beekeepers also need to follow food safety guidelines when harvesting and processing the honey.
Springtime is when the beekeeper must get the bees ready for the coming honey-producing months, whether it's working with existing colonies, or with new bees that will be going into empty hives. It is during this period that the beekeeper will medicate the bees in order to ensure that they are free of parasites and that the queen is healthy and capable of producing eggs.
It is the beekeeper's responsibility to remove the honey as it becomes ready during the summer months, and to add additional boxes that contain combs if the bees need more space to produce. It's important for honey production that the bees have enough space within their hives, in order for them to function at an optimum level. Therefore, as the honey production accelerates, the beekeeper must be aware of when to provide them with more space.
When harvesting honey, a beekeeper needs to wear a protective suit, gloves and veil, to prevent from getting stung. A smoker (a device that releases light puffs of smoke) is sometimes used to calm bees that are agitated. After the combs have been removed from the hive, the wax coverings on the combs are removed and the honey is extracted. The beekeeper can do this by hand or with the help of a mechanical extractor. The honey is then purified by straining it and skimming any impurities away. The honey is then ready to be jarred and sold.
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A beekeeper tends to travel quite a bit, examining honey and pollen flora and moving beehives by truck from site to site as plants start flowering. Much of their time is spent out-of-doors and away from home. When the honey is harvested, a beekeeper will have a space indoors where he or she will extract, purify and bottle the honey.