What Do Beekeepers Do? A Day in the Life 

Ever wonder how that golden honey makes the journey from hive to jar as you drizzle it over your favorite sweet treats? Beekeepers play an essential role in not only ensuring the health of the hive (and all its buzzing inhabitants) but also the removal of honey once it’s ready for extraction. 

But what do beekeepers do all day? Are they permanently stationed alongside the hive, clad in their beekeeping suit, dipping their gloved hands into the bee boxes in search of honey? 

While you won’t find beekeepers elbow-deep in hives, you can find them geared up in their bee suits, attentively nurturing their 60,000 to 80,000 little friends, especially in the wee hours of the morning. 

Join us as we explore a day in the life of a beekeeper. 

How Beekeepers Begin Their Journey 

Many full-time beekeepers begin their journeys as enthusiastic hobbyists. They often read insightful books to gain a better understanding of the practice and enroll in beekeeping courses to familiarize themselves with the fundamentals. 

Once they feel equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills, aspiring beekeepers sometimes seek out experienced mentors who are willing to guide them through hands-on learning experiences. This allows them to ask questions and learn at their own pace until they’re comfortable moving to the next phase of beekeeping: managing their own hive. 

The Morning Routine: Inspection and Maintenance 

For both hobbyists and professional beekeepers, when it’s time to inspect the hives, the day begins early. And we mean early—sometimes before sunrise. Beekeepers start their days at the crack of dawn because as the temperatures rise, the bees become more active, making them more agitated and defensive. 

But before heading into the apiary, beekeepers don their protective clothing, including a veil, gloves and a bee suit, to avoid any potential stings. Then, smoker in hand, they light a slow-burning fuel in the chamber, creating a consistent flow of white smoke from its nozzle.  

Before opening the hive, they’ll aim the smoke toward the entrance to the hive, effectively tricking the bees into thinking their hive is on fire. To outsiders, it may seem like a cruel practice, but the smoke is cool and nonintrusive, and it’s an effective way to distract the bees while the beekeepers inspect their hives, looking for the following: 

  • Signs of diseases or pests. 
  • Sufficient honey and pollen stores 
  • Signs of a healthy hive, like the presence of a queen, larvae and eggs, especially during the brood-rearing season (around spring and early summer). 

Hive inspections typically occur once every two weeks during the active season. In addition to checking for the above criteria inside the hive, beekeepers also take time to sanitize and maintain their hive tools and check the integrity of their spare hive boxes and frames. If necessary, they’ll swap out old frames for new ones or perform hive splits to manage a growing population. 

Honey Harvesting 

The timing of harvesting varies depending on a beekeeper’s location but generally occurs around mid-to-late summer. If this is a beekeeper’s first year with their hive, beekeepers typically refrain from harvesting the honey their bees produce, as the collective hive often relies on this supply to survive through the winter. 

After that first year, however, beekeepers can comfortably begin harvesting their hive’s honey, which can amount to a whopping 25 to 100 pounds, depending on factors such as the hive’s strength and the floral sources the bees were using to forage. 

To harvest the honey, beekeepers begin by removing the bees from the frames of honey supers (a section of the beehive that stores honey) using a clearer board. Then, they’ll uncap the sealed honey cells with a serrated knife. From there, they put the uncapped frames inside a honey extractor (a clever cyclical contraption that spins the frames, flinging honey onto the side of the extractor). From there, the honey pools at the bottom, where the beekeepers can collect it in its rawest, most delectable form. 

Turn Your Beekeeping Hobby Into a Career 

Whether you’re just digging into the early stages of beekeeping fundamentals or you’re a seasoned apiary interested in learning more advanced skills, the University of Florida offers two unique online graduate programs that will help you gain the knowledge needed to begin or advance your career in the world of beekeeping: 

Graduate Certificate in Beekeeping 

This flexible 15-credit online program lets you choose from a wide range of elective courses depending on your interests and career path, including Graduate Survey of Entomology, Insect Toxicology, and Ecology and Conservation of Pollinators. You can complete the online coursework in as little as three semesters from almost anywhere with an internet connection. 

Master’s Degree in Entomology and Nematology, Specializing in Beekeeping 

This 30-credit online program provides a broad education on entomology topics while allowing you to focus on your area of interest: beekeeping. In addition, after you finish the program, you’ll graduate with not one, but two credentials: a master’s degree in entomology and nematology and a graduate certificate in beekeeping. 

At UF, we offer year-round start dates, affordable tuition costs and asynchronous classes that make learning on your busy schedule a cinch. Take the first step toward turning your hobby into a career. Apply today! 

Sources: 
https://www.science.org.au/curious/earth-environment/honeybee-hive
https://newsroom.co.nz/2021/12/13/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-beekeeper/
https://bee-health.extension.org/seasonality-of-brood-and-adult-populations-basic-bee-biology-for-beekeepers/
https://www.miller-mfg.com/blog/when-to-harvest-honey/
https://www.beeandbloom.com/blog/fabqs-how-much-honey

Learn More About the Program

Click for details about the Entomology and Nematology program.