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Honeybee Discovery Center

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Beekeepers and Beekeeping

Humans have been tending bees for nearly 2500 years since they began taking care of wild bee colonies around 30 B.C. These early beekeepers probably wanted the honey from the bees. They may have also noticed that honeybees made their crops produce more because of pollination.

Beekeeper opening queen bee hive

Today’s beekeepers are either professionals, with many hives, or hobbyists, who tend a few hives. These beekeepers help keep bees safe and healthy, which is a benefit to farmers and other people.

Both men and women can be beekeepers, and some kids have beehives, too. There are 4-H leaders for beekeeping, and some high school students keep bees for their FFA projects.

Most beekeepers have special suits or coveralls so that bees cannot sting them too often. They wear screen veils to protect their head and neck. Some wear soft leather gloves to protect their hands and arms and high top boots to protect their feet and ankles.

Beekeepers opening bee hives

Beekeepers have special tools for keeping bees. These include a smoker to spread smoke along the bottom entrance of the hive and under the top lid. The smoke calms the bees so that the beekeeper can work quickly and carefully inside of the hive. Beekeepers also have hive tools to carefully separate the frames.

Beekeepers working on bee hives

Professional beekeepers use other equipment besides smokers and hive tools. They have trucks and forklifts to move the bee hives. They also use ropes and straps to keep the hives on the truck as they move them to locations in orchards, clover and alfalfa fields, and vine seed crops like watermelons and cucumbers. There are many other crops that are pollinated by honeybees, and beekeepers rent the hives to the farmers for pollination.

Hobbyist beekeepers usually have several hives in their yard or garden. Some beekeepers keep their hives on tops of tall buildings in cities! Hobbyist beekeepers collect the honey and share it with their friends.

Beekeeper holding bee hive frame

Beekeepers check their bee hives to see if the queen is doing a good job of laying eggs. They also make sure that the bees have plenty of pollen and nectar for food so that the bees in the hive are healthy.

Beekeeping is a fascinating and rewarding hobby or business. People who enjoy being outdoors and are curious about nature often love being beekeepers. Beekeeping is hands-on, hard work, but many people love keeping honeybees for a hobby or career. Being a beekeeper is an important job that helps the environment and all of us.