Beekeeper Kaitiaki Pī

Beekeepers look after beehives in apiaries that produce honey, wax, pollen and other bee products. They may also offer pollination services to horticultural and seed crop producers.

 

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AsureQuality registration

Beekeepers in New Zealand need to be registered with AsureQuality. Part of the registration process involves registering your apiaries.  

DECA registration and inspections

Disease Elimination Conformity Agreement (DECA) training is not required, but nearly all beekeepers are expected to be DECA registered. DECA sets out a code of beekeeping practice to ensure that the incidence of American foulbrood disease in hives is eliminated. 

Beekeepers may do some or all of the following:

  • collect honey from hives and extract honey from combs
  • transport hives to various locations
  • inspect hives and treat them for diseases or parasites
  • ensure bee colonies have enough food
  • provide pollination services by renting hives to orchards and farms
  • breed queen bees
  • build and maintain hives
  • package honey and honey products for processing
  • run their own business and keep records.

Physical Requirements

Beekeepers need to:

  • not have allergies to bee stings or pollen 
  • be reasonably fit, healthy and strong because some heavy lifting is involved
  • have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses).  

Useful Experience

Useful experience for beekeepers includes:

  • keeping bees as a hobby
  • attending beekeeping courses 
  • joining the local beekeepers' club
  • farming or gardening 
  • carpentry or other woodworking. 

Personal Qualities

Beekeepers need to be:

  • motivated
  • observant
  • good at keeping records
  • committed to working safely and cooperatively with others. 

Skills

Beekeepers need to have:

  • knowledge of the yearly cycle and habits of bees
  • good bee handling skills so they know when and how to approach bees
  • knowledge of plant types and life cycles, and how and when plants produce nectar
  • skill in identifying bee diseases, and knowledge of methods of disease control
  • knowledge of how to extract and assess the quality of bee products such as honey, pollen, royal jelly and propolis 
  • carpentry skills for building and repairing hive boxes.

Beekeepers running their own business also need small business skills.

Conditions

Beekeepers:

  • work long and irregular hours in the peak summer and autumn seasons
  • work in honey houses and workshops, and outside on farms and orchards
  • often have to work outdoors in all types of weather, and will sometimes get stung by bees
  • may travel long distances between hives.

Beekeepers can earn around $44K-$70K per year.

Chances of getting a job as a Beekeeper are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for beekeepers varies depending on experience, responsibilities and how many hives they look after.

  • Beekeepers with no experience usually earn minimum wage.
  • Beekeepers with one to four years' experience usually earn between $45,000 and $70,000 a year.
  • Beekeepers who manage staff and apiary operations can earn between $65,000 and $120,000. 

Earnings for owner-operator beekeepers depend on the number of hives they manage and their income from pollination services and honey production.

Source: Apiculture New Zealand, 2019.

Beekeepers may progress to setting up their own hives and running their own business, or move into breeding bees, or sales and marketing roles for bee-related products. 

Years Of Training

1-2 years of training usually required.

There are no specific requirements to become a beekeeper as you gain skills on the job. However, many employers prefer to hire beekeepers who have or are working towards a qualification such as the New Zealand Certificate in Apiculture Level 3 or 4 or the New Zealand Apprenticeship in Apiculture (Levels 3 and 4).

The industry training organisation Primary ITO oversees apiculture training and apprenticeships. 

Beekeeper