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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?
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.
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:-
- Elimination of American foulbrood disease without the use of drugs by Mark Goodwin
- Control of Varroa Mites by Mark Goodwin
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.
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
- Commercial Beekeeping New Zealand
- Beekeeping Jobs NZ
- NZ Beekeepers Forum – Lots of Commercials hang out here
- Must Bee Heaven flickr photo by Ian Sane shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
- Alexandra beekeeper Michael Vercoe – Photo courtesy of MARY-JO TOHILL/Fairfax