Beekeeping offers challenges at several levels. For some it is an interesting hobby while for others it is their livelihood either as an employee or as a self-employed business person.
The scale of operations can range from one hive at the bottom of the garden to enterprises running tens of thousands of hives and employing people.
There are many backgrounds and skills which can be transferred to beekeeping. There are also a few things to be aware of like not being allergic to bee stings, having reasonably good eyesight and a reasonable level of fitness.
For hobbyists, the benefits are usually associated with the satisfaction of producing honey; looking after the wellbeing of the bees, resulting in a relaxing and entertaining activity; pollinating gardens and fruit trees and enjoying the social aspect of meeting other beekeepers at local bee clubs or at association regional hub activities.
Commercial operators also get the satisfaction of being involved in a dynamic and rewarding industry. They can also enjoy being a key partner with New Zealand’s horticulture industry by directly contributing to billions of dollars of crops in providing pollination services.
In addition, due to a growing industry, there is a shortage of experienced commercial beekeepers and this has opened doors for new careers and training opportunities. Both permanent and seasonal jobs are available with commercial beekeepers throughout New Zealand.
New Zealand honey and honey bee-related products are internationally recognised for their premium quality, with strong international demand for New Zealand honey. While a number of factors contribute to that reputation, the absence of antibiotics that are commonly given to bees overseas to keep American Foulbrood (bacterial disease) under control, are strictly prohibited in New Zealand under our biosecurity legislation. It is therefore extremely important that even those owning a single beehive become and remain compliant with the law and are vigilant for signs of new exotic diseases, in order to protect the livelihood of thousands of people in the industry.