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Occupational Profile

Beekeeper

Beekeepers manage and keep colonies of honey bees in apiaries (bee-yards) to produce honey and hive by-products (for example, pollen, bees wax), pollinate crops or produce bees.

  • Avg. Salary $74,215.00
  • Avg. Wage $33.00
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook Down
Also Known As

Apiarist, Farmer

NOC & Interest Codes
The Beekeeper is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Farmers and Farm Managers
NOC code: 8251
DIRECTIVE

Interest in supervising and hiring farm workers; and in determining amounts and kinds of crops to be grown and livestock to be raised, and in purchasing farm machinery, livestock, seed, feed and other supplies

METHODICAL

Interest in co-ordinating information to plant, cultivate and harvest crops; and in raising and breeding livestock and poultry

OBJECTIVE

Interest in driving - operating and maintaining farm machinery, equipment and buildings

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation. 

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Beekeeping duties vary with the seasons but, in general, beekeepers:

  • maintain healthy bees for honey production and pollination
  • prepare colonies for production and wintering 
  • inspect colonies for vitality, queen performance, level of food reserves and the presence of parasites or disease
  • manage bee colonies by feeding bees, replacing queen bees, dividing colonies and replacing combs
  • recognize, report and monitor hive health issues and apply appropriate cures and controls
  • move bees to different locations to pollinate field crops
  • follow food safety and traceability guidelines and regulations when harvesting and processing honey and other hive products  
  • collect and package honey, pollen and beeswax
  • market products to consumers or packers
  • maintain bee yard and beekeeping equipment
  • keep records of production and colony conditions.

In winter, beekeepers regularly check colonies in wintering facilities, and repair and maintain hive boxes and equipment in preparation for spring.

Beekeepers use equipment such as special protective clothing, bee smokers, hive tools and carpentry tools. Commercial beekeepers also drive trucks and fork-lifts, and operate and maintain machines ranging from extractors and honey processing equipment to grass mowers and chemical sprayers (for controlling grass around hives). Beekeepers must use pesticides and antibiotics responsibly in their bee colonies.

In large scale commercial operations bee keepers may have different responsibilities depending on years of experience. For example,

  • apiary harvesters harvest honey, clean and maintain hive equipment and bee yard
  • apiary workers assist apiary technicians with all aspects of caring for bees, operating and maintaining equipment and collecting and packaging honey
  • apiary technicians do all of the above and also may supervise staff and interact with external farm personnel (for example, supply companies, owners of other apiaries).
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Beekeepers are busiest in spring, summer and fall, and may work long hours in the summer. They may be required to work evenings, nights, weekends and holidays.

Beekeepers work outside in all kinds of weather. Although automation and mechanization have helped, the work often is repetitive, physically demanding and routinely may require lifting items that weigh over 20 kilograms.

Beekeepers must follow safety precautions and wear appropriate protective clothing to avoid injury to themselves or others when working with machinery, tools or hives. Appropriate hygiene practices must be followed to prevent or control the spread of diseases from hive to hive or the contamination of the hive products.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Beekeepers need the following characteristics:

  • an interest in working with honey bees
  • flexibility and adaptability
  • good physical condition
  • good coordination and manual dexterity
  • the ability to withstand bee stings and have no allergies to honey bee stings
  • the ability to follow instructions and work without supervision
  • the ability to work well with others in a team
  • a responsible attitude when handling equipment.

They should enjoy taking a methodical approach to their work.

 

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Beekeepers must be knowledgeable about:

  • bee biology and behavior
  • nectar sources and honey quality
  • the identification and control of diseases, parasites and predators that affect bees
  • the proper use of pesticides, antibiotics and chemicals
  • issues and trends related to the industry as a whole 
  • marketing methods
  • provincial legislation (the Bee Act, Bee Regulation and Honey Grading Regulation)
  • food safety and employment regulations
  • financial and production record keeping. 

Some employers prefer to hire applicants who have:

  • First Aid and CPR training
  • hand tool skills
  • the ability to operate and maintain trucks, forklifts and other equipment.

Inexperienced beekeepers are advised to obtain related experience by working with established beekeepers. Anyone who has bees or beekeeping equipment is required to register annually with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

The Alberta Green Certificate Program offered through Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AAF) is an apprenticeship-style training that combines hands-on farm mentorship with formal education.

The Green Certificate is a complimentary program of study available to students of all Alberta high schools. There are various specializations offered (for example, beekeeper production) at each level. Graduates of the Level I Green Certificate Program are certified as farm production technician and may earn up to 16 credits towards their high school diploma for each specialization completed. Level II (farm production supervisor) and III (agribusiness manager) Green Certificates are also available for those who are interested in advancing their career in the agriculture industry.

To participate in the Green Certificate Program, trainees must be at least 15 years of age and enrolled in grade 10, 11 or 12. The training takes approximately one year, allowing trainees to experience all of the seasons on a farming operation.

For more information about the program and admission requirements, students may follow the Green Certificate Program link above or contact their school representative to connect with the Green Certificate regional coordinator.

To use some pesticides, beekeepers must hold a pesticide applicator certificate. Completion of the Farmer Pesticide Training Certificate course through Alberta Agriculture and Forestry is recommended.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Large beekeeping operations often employ beekeeping assistants (apiary harvesters and workers) over the summer months. Some employ assistants year-round. There is considerable demand for beekeeping assistants in Alberta due to a growing demand for hives to pollinate seed canola in southern Alberta.

Beekeepers may start their own businesses or buy an established apiary. Setting up a commercial beekeeping business requires considerable capital investment in addition to the cost of land.

Beekeepers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 0821: Managers in agriculture. In Alberta, 97% of people employed in this classification work in the Agricultural (PDF) industry.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Beekeepers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 0821: Managers in agriculture.

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Managers in agriculture occupational group earned on average from $24.87 to $43.59 an hour. The overall average wage was $33.00 an hour. For more information, see the Managers in agriculture wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • Science
    • Biology
  • Business, Administration, Finance and IT
    • Management and Marketing
  • Natural Resources
    • Agriculture
    • Environmental Stewardship
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Agriculture and Related Technologies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry website: www.agric.gov.ab.ca

Alberta Beekeepers website: www.albertabeekeepers.org

Canadian Honey Council website: www.honeycouncil.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 08, 2016. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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