Having a hobby to fill your free time makes your life more fulfilling. Everyone should spend at least some of their days doing something that’s fun and rewarding and that positively impacts the world around them. Beekeeping combines all these things. It takes plenty of hard work, but it also has plenty of amazing upsides. From providing sweet honey to saving essential members of the environment, beekeeping has something that appeals to everyone, whether it’s for a career, a hobby, or a mix of the two. Here are the main benefits of beekeeping you can experience.
We Need Bees
You’ve probably heard it countless times by now: we need to protect the bees. It’s true. Despite their small size and questionable reputation, honey bees are some of the most beneficial creatures in our environment. They’re natural pollinators, which means they help your local flora reproduce and flourish. Honey bees positively influence all kinds of vegetation, from colorful field of wildflowers to your backyard garden to the crops we rely on to feed our society. In fact, honey bees are major assets to the agricultural industry. Without their help, crops such as almonds, berries, and pumpkins would falter.
Bees Need Us
Our reliance on bees works both ways. Just as we need them to pollinate crops and make the world a little more colorful, they need us to protect them from pests, habitat loss, and other threats. In addition to safe hives, honey bees also need healthy environments in which to forage. This means safe water sources and plenty of pollen- and nectar-rich plants—without pesticides. Beekeepers take on these responsibility with their bees. A good beekeeper helps bee populations by carefully caring for their hives and making sure the surrounding environments are safe for their bees. By providing resources such as bee-friendly gardens or water sources, beekeepers also help local wild bee populations survive.
You Can Make Money
Some people choose beekeeping as their careers, but even as a hobby, it can provide you with some extra income. Selling local honey is by far the most popular way to earn money as a beekeeper. Honey bees make their honey to feed the colonies and to survive the winter. However, a colony will make excess honey, which is the part beekeepers harvest. Fresh, local honey is known for its many health benefits, including soothing coughs and allergies. It’s also a delicious natural sweetener. However, honey isn’t the only thing beekeepers can sell. Other honey bee products—such as wax, pollen, or propolis—have various uses and health benefits. Beeswax is particularly common in candles, soaps, and other products. Homemade beeswax products can cause quite a stir at your local farmers’ market. In addition to selling products, some beekeepers also sell their bees’ services. Many farmers hire bee colonies for the season to help pollinate their crops.
You’ll Never Stop Learning
Honey bees are downright fascinating creatures, and there’s a lot to learn about them and their colonies. You might picture a beehive as little more than a welter of stinging insects, but honey bees exist in a complex and structured society. As you delve deeper into your beekeeping journey, you’ll learn more about the life of honey bees: how they’re raised, how the hive functions, how they make honey, and so much more. From the ways worker bees dance to communicate with each other to the expertise a queen uses to lay hundreds of eggs a day, there’s no end to the fun facts you can learn about your bees.
The Passionate Community
As with any good hobby, plenty of passionate, welcoming people make up the beekeeping community. There are beekeeping associations, clubs, and other communities across the country for you to join. You can also jump into any of the thriving online communities. Other beekeepers are great resources for advice, stories, and good old-fashioned connection. Even if you don’t keep bees yourself, you can learn more about the lives of beekeepers and their bees through the community. It’s a great way to meet new people and decide whether or not you want to start a beekeeping career.
The Rewarding Experience
People pursue hobbies for a sense of fulfillment, and beekeeping offers an immensely rewarding experience. You get to be part of a fruitful and vital natural process. As a beekeeper, you’ll spend your time caring for the environment and the creatures within it. Like many hobbies, beekeeping can also be a form of stress relief. Many beekeepers find the everyday process of working with their bees familiar and calming. Beekeeping gives you a chance to take a break and reconnect with the natural environment around you.
Of course, beekeeping involves some startup costs as you buy your protective gear, hive kits, and other beekeeping equipment. However, once you get going, honey bees are surprisingly low-maintenance. They’re the experts when it comes to running the hive and making honey. All you have to do is a bit of weekly maintenance. You’ll expend some extra energy when it comes time to harvest your honey or insulate the hive for winter. You’ll face some occasional costs—such as purchasing new equipment or buying a new queen or colony—but the benefits far surpass the expenses.
You Get to Share the Love
One of the best parts of beekeeping is that you don’t have to keep it to yourself. From #savethebees trending on Twitter to regulations banning the use of pesticides, more and more people catch the buzz about bees every day. You can be part of the movement. Offer tours of your beehives or visit classes and groups to talk about the main benefits of beekeeping. By teaching others, you can help dismantle some of the misconceptions about honey bees that can lead to harmful behaviors toward bee populations. Use your hobby to pass along what you learn so that others can experience the benefits and joys of beekeeping.
Whether you’re an old pro or just starting out, beekeeping has many perks and rewards for everyone who tries it. What’s your favorite part of being a beekeeper? Share your stories with your fellow beekeepers in the comments!