Commercial Beekeeping – How do you get started?

We got an email the other day about getting started in Commercial Beekeeping. I thought our answer may help you, if you are thinking of going down this path as well.

Here is David’s email:-


I need some honest advise and guidance please. I am a 56 years old. I am thinking of leaving my industry and becoming a Commercial beekeeper.

How do I get Started?


Hi David,

Thanks for your email.

We sell beekeeping supplies and talk to lots of different beekeepers. So these thoughts are based on those conversations. Not on our experience of being commercial beekeepers.

Start Reading

A good start to beekeeping is to get hold of a good book, we recommend the “Practical beekeeping in New Zealand” book. This book is commercial focused, so a great book to read before you get your first bees. We sell this book HERE.

Other essential books are:-

Do a Commercial Course

Another thing I hear is a lot of beekeepers are doing is the Telford Apiculture course, this can be done via correspondence or classroom work. You can find out more on their website located HERE.

Start Slowly / Start as a Hobbyist

Beekeeping takes a while to learn, so start slowly with a few hives. It’s better to make mistakes on three hives rather than fifty.

A good rule is that if you can run 5 hives for a few years and get them through your winters, then start expanding.

Find a commercial Mentor

Finding a commercial beekeeper as a mentor is another good idea, ask if you can help him or her with their operation. Observe what they do, ask lots of questions.

Locations for your beehives

Another practical step, do you have access to large tracts of land to place your bees. some areas are becoming saturated with hives, this will lead to less nectar for the bees, hence less honey resources.

Your Health

Beekeeping is hard work, full boxes of honey weigh up to 40kg. so injuries and back issues are common place in beekeeping. You can use smaller height boxes this will help with this. Beekeeping is physically demanding and injuries do happen.

Well I hope that gives you some ideas, if you a completely new beekeeper, I would also check out our article Beekeeping 101 – Seven Steps to becoming beekeeper.

Good luck with your journey.

Some Useful Facebook Pages for Commercial Beekeeping in NZ

Media Credits

6 thoughts on “Commercial Beekeeping – How do you get started?

  1. Avatar photo
    John says:

    Why is there no information anywhere how to go from hobbyists to commercial is beyond me. I think someone should do a Blog on it I don’t see how you could ever grow you would have to buy in.. unless you had about 8 to 10 years to wait

    • Avatar photo
      Margaret Groot says:

      Hi John, I aren’t sure of any specific info but in the Practical Beekeeping Book for New Zealand Beekeepers, it talks mainly about commercial beekeeping practices. I think the commercial side of things is all about having very large number of Beehives and on registering hives I don’t think they determine a commercial enterprise – I havent seen any tick boxes on their forms to ask if the beekeeper themselves think they are a commercial operation….so its hard to determine. Some folks we have talked to class themselves as ‘commercial’ and they run about 300 Beehives. For us we are trying to share best practices so that we give the Honey Bee the greatest chance of surviving and at this point its all about trying to stop resistence caused by synthetic miticides – our vision is that commercial operations take this route, if they did their honey and wax would be free of the synthetic chemicals so therefore in our view a much higher quality of honey will be produced and that would bee WIN / WIN. We have tried to get some commercial guys to share their work practices but most are too busy. Anyway thanks for the email John and who knows what the future holds. Happy 2019. Regards, Margaret and Gary…it’s the kiwimana buzzzzzz…

  2. Avatar photo
    Debbie Owen says:

    Hello Margaret
    I am looking for an entry level to learn from the beginning and my aim is to assist honey bees. I hopefully in the very near future, moving to the Raetea Forest, the base of the Forest, and this would be an wonderful contribution back into our environment. The aim is to help our Honey Bees. I look forward to a conversation with you.
    Kind regards
    Debbie Owen

    • Avatar photo
      Margaret Groot says:

      Hi Debbie, we are looking at running a course and happy for you to give me a call on 0211752137. This Tuesday evening would be a great time slot for me. Regards, Margaret …it’s the kiwimana buzz…

  3. Avatar photo
    Debbie Owen says:

    Hi Margaret – I do “live-in” support care working and I am back tomorrow, Monday. I have so many questions like – Shall I start with you? Shall I do the Telford Study . The Northtec in Kaitaia has been very difficult to “speak to a human” so I explored your Newsletter and found so many interesting things. I look forward to starting this journey with you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *