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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    Madison County, Alabama
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    487

    Default Careers in Beekeeping

    Folks I'm ready to retire from Uncle Sam's Air Force. I'm 43, in good shape, despite being a little overweight, but I lift 80lb 10-frame deeps and climb stairs two steps at a time. I got no body parts in pain, no knee or joint problems.

    I want to start a new life as a professional beekeeper. I don't want to own my own business yet. I want to manage someone else's bees. I don't care how low the salary is (by the way, what can I expect to earn?).

    I don't know how to drive a forklift, or major heavy machinery, so I'd need training there. But I'm on the verge of starting to acquire my master bee keepers certification.

    I know New Zeland is looking for beekeepers.

    I don't have an impressive resume, been keeping bees since August 2007. But I think I've learned a lot, and there's a passion I've felt doing this, I haven't felt in a long time. I want to work out doors...been working indoors all my 21 years of AF life.

    Is there a demand for beekeepers? I think I'm acquiring some good skills, even just a year into it.

    Be honest with me, what's my prospects? Would you hire me?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
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    3,699

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    Try this link, someone in here was looking for help to hire...

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...ghlight=wanted
    When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. John Muir

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
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    6,973

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    I hope you do know that the kind of work you are seeking is a bit different from what is required in the armed forces?

    I think the person that mr marler was talking about was michael palmer (vermont). you might wish to pm him directly.

    fatcher ask directly:

    Be honest with me, what's my prospects? Would you hire me?

    tecumseh: well personally I am not large enough to employ any labor besides my own. If I was (or if I ran a large commercial operation) this question would be TOTALLY dependent on the individual. in the past it has been my experience that it is difficult for anyone coming out of the armed services to adjust to the physical and mental challanges of migratory bee keeping.... the pay is low and the demands are high.

    just tryin' to be straight up with ya' here... and the best of luck to ya'.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Kerikeri, New Zealand
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    69

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    Know what you're getting into. The schedule, remote locations and fact that you'll be playing with millions of stinging insects dictate that you'll live somewhere near the fringe. In US$ I started at about 9/hr, no benis, no overtime. Now (4yrs on) I make about 45k/yr with a vehicle and 2 months holiday. In season I work 50-80 hrs/wk and most of it is heavy, sweaty work. I love it and wouldn't trade the lifestyle for anything as a young guy, but I don't want to put my body through the ringer for a lifetime. I've met too many hunched over lifers. Despite broken bodies, I have yet to meet a long time beek who isn't a genuinely good person. Don't know if the bees attract a certain sort or weed out the jerks. . .

    Their is definitely a demand for beeks in NZ. I work in a town of <10k people with 3 major (2k+ hives) operations and a handful of sideliners. The 3 big guys employ 1 US (me), 2 czech, 2 UK, 1 Thai, 2 fillipino, 1 Ukraine and 2 NZ born beeks plus a variety of short term laborers (mostly N euro backpackers). Beekeeping is on the govt skills shortage list which means it's easier to get work visas/permits through immigration.

    I don't have any experience in the US but this is written by a beesourcer and is worth reading--> http://bee-quick.com/reprints/udunno.pdf

    I would guess the transition from military to commercial beek is HUGE. If it is a change of lifestyle you seek and you're really interested in bees then make it happen, just go in with your eyes open.

    Best,

    dw

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
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    2,496

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    Most large commercial beeks I know run their own business with seasonal help. Those that can no longer run the business usually sell out rather then take on full time help. So if you are planning on getting into it and taking care of 1 to 3 k hives I suggest you start by looking for guys getting out of the business and buying up their operation. If you can't get the money right away start small like with 50 hives and then split each year. This also gives you time to scout for yards in your area and coordinate with other beeks in your area so you don't overlap areas. You can build up quicker then you think like this. 50 first year. 100 to 150 next depending on your splits. If you do a three frame split you can get 150. So the next year you can be up to 200 hives or 450 and so on.

    If you want to learn the trade get with a commercial beek as seasonal help to really get a feel for it and run some of your own hives at the same time. If you are up for it then start building your business or look to take over someones.

    Good luck.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by tecumseh View Post
    in the past it has been my experience that it is difficult for anyone coming out of the armed services to adjust to the physical and mental challanges of migratory bee keeping....
    I'd be interested in hearing you elaborate on this particular comment. Unless I've misunderstood it, you've taken a bit of a jab at the ex military folks.
    In my experience ex military people are pretty much like the rest of us.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
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    I don't know, but I prefer beekeeping to lugging around a 110 lb pack and a rifle, pistol and anti-tank missile and all the ammo that goes with it and four days food out in some frigging middle eastern desert. As a matter of fact I find it quiet relaxing. I prefer the buzzing of bees to the buzzing of bullets and shrapnel whizzing by your head. Lifting supers onto a flat bed is sure easier then throwing 60 lbs boxes of 25mm rounds into a 5 ton where the bed sits chest high. I don't know...when I look at it I would prefer to have an ex-military guy who is used to work and can accomplish things with little direction working for me. Call me crazy.

  8. #8
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Okay, crazy alpha6,

    I know that techumseh can defend himself, but maybe he was talking about people that he knows and not guys like you and Keith. I agree w/ you that having someone who can do the grunt work and not have to ask alot of questions when it's time to get something done would be valuable.

    I like guys who don't ask alot of questions when we're working, but save the questions for time in between yards and during lunch. Why do you do that that way can be the most frustrating question when it's asked over and over again. Especially when it's followed up with "So and so doesn't do it that way." or "Such and such a book says to do it this way." But, intelligent inquiry is a good thing.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    College Station, Texas
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    beemandan writes:
    I'd be interested in hearing you elaborate on this particular comment. Unless I've misunderstood it, you've taken a bit of a jab at the ex military folks.
    In my experience ex military people are pretty much like the rest of us.

    tecumseh: are you looking for offense? it is quite evident that you have misunderstood.

    the fact that you snipped out the sentence prior and the elaboration behind speaks volumes.

    fatscher: if my remarks offend... then I do apologize.

    I think sqkcrk is giving you excellent positive direction.

    as someone else suggested... obtaining a commercialdriver's license would be an excellent credential for any entry level employment. most people with average eye hand cordination can learn to operate a forklift OTJ.

    perhaps I would extend my job elaboration to be... be prepared to live out of a suitcase, working long hours seasonally for minimum wage. it is better to have no family.

    on the upside... the solitude and the wonderment of working in some fairly remote places can make all you give up above quite worthwhile.

    and sometime a person just needs to follow their dreams.

    if you have any specific questions just pm me.

    good luck to ya'...

  10. #10
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by tecumseh View Post
    working long hours seasonally for minimum wage. it is better to have no family.
    Working long hours? Yes, at times.
    Better to have no family? Yeah, maybe, but not necassarily. Having one that can get along w/out you for a period of time will work. Kinda like being deployed, w/out someone shooting at you. Usually.
    Minimum wage? I don't want to cause a rush here, but I don't know any of my beekeeping buddies who pay minimum wage. Not even Farm Minimum wage. We all know that you pay for what you get. And we, my buddies and I, want someone who can work and is interested in learning about bees or preferably already knows something about working bees. So better than Minimum Wage is the norm w/ those that I work w/ and for. Room and board are included too.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Port Orchard, WA USA
    Posts
    208

    Default

    in the past it has been my experience that it is difficult for anyone coming out of the armed services to adjust to the physical and mental challanges of migratory bee keeping.... the pay is low and the demands are high.
    OK, I counted to ten before I posted. Low pay in a highly demanding enviroment was the basic job description of my military service. Maybe yours was different, but I find this statement absolutely stunning. Actually, I find it insulting.

  12. #12
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    Dec 2007
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    Tulare County, CA USA
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    1,380

    Default

    You guys know that tecumseh was in the navy, right? I'd be a little insulted to without that little jewel of info.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Warne, North Carolina
    Posts
    551

    Default Career in Beekeeping you ask???

    Hmmm?? I still haven't made any $$$ in beekeeping...in fact, every year I write my company off as a loss. If I were you, first I would eliminate the word career from your mind...this ain't no career, believe me. HOWEVER, you could just do it for the love of bees and HONEY, LOL!!!
    ~What do you know there's so much to be done
    Count all the bees in the hive, Chase all the clouds from the sky~

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Boston, Georgia
    Posts
    466

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    If your not making money in beekeeping your not trying. I have 2 homes in one in Michigan and one and Georgia. I drive a new truck and I owe less than $140,000. This business is very profitable if your willing to work for it. Many lonely nights in a sleeper cab and endless hours on the road. During busy times I can easily forget what day of the week it is, I've even looked at my watch a 6 o'clock and wondered, am or pm? The biggest challege I face as a larger operator is not how to work the bees. If you know how to keep one alive and making honey just muliply that timesa few thousand. My biggest problem is employees. When I read an article about Adee's 100,000 hives I wondered how in the world do they manage that many employees?
    I am holding on to the hope I have inside... Kutless

  15. #15
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyndi View Post
    Hmmm?? I still haven't made any $$$ in beekeeping...in fact, every year I write my company off as a loss. If I were you, first I would eliminate the word career from your mind...this ain't no career, believe me. HOWEVER, you could just do it for the love of bees and HONEY, LOL!!!
    Maybe you should work for a beekeeper and then you would make some money from beekeeping. But I know what you mean, Cyndi.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Tip of the Thumb, Michigan
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    676

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    Quote Originally Posted by tecumseh View Post
    In the past it has been my experience that it is difficult for anyone coming out of the armed services to adjust to the physical and mental challanges of migratory bee keeping.... the pay is low and the demands are high.
    For what it's worth, when I read this I thought:

    Low pay? High physical demands? Living out of a suitcase and away from friends, family and other loved ones?

    Heck, if that's the case, I'd have stayed in the military! At least Uncle Sam provides full meals, and not just honey!

    (No insult detected.)

    DS

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
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    6,973

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    beemandanwrites:
    I was polite with my initial invitation. Im not sure that I should be here. But Im going to try.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tecumseh
    tecumseh writes: well I suspect cow pollinator (I am definitely profiling here) that given the kind of work you do (which is basically agricultural in nature.. correct?) that you know exactly what I am talking about...

    What, exactly do you mean by that?

    tecumseh: polite... I think NOT. , you first accuse me of insulting someone who ask for our unfettered opinion... straight up with no shuck and jive.

    so why do you see this little comment (with the snip about it always being a decision based on the individual being conviently removed) as insulting? once again are you actively searching for insult.


    lastly if cow pollinators pm to me is believable (and personally I find cow polinators ways quite refreshing... although we are quite likely to disagree on almost everythings political) then he understood quite directly what I was talking about....

    although this summary is not in cow pollinators own words... I will let you in on our little secret. most of the work that can be described as agriculture is undervalued especially when it comes to any understanding by the populace as to the PREREQUISITE KNOWLEDGE that is required to be even marginally successful. By the nature of the beast you can bring the very best qualification and information to the job and mother nature can still toss you a screw ball. Just the lack of understanding about why one does certain things and doesn't do other things can be something of a large disability in the world of agriculture.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Prague, Czech republic
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Careers in Beekeeping

    I am gethering an information about api jobs in New Zealand. I am still young, I hate my office work and I want to change direction of my life - explore something new and hard work in beautifull country will help.

    How real is to catch a job like beekeeper assistant in NZ, if I am newbie? Can you advice me where is good to focus attention?
    Or contact to some czech/slovak/ukraine guys mentioned above for administrative advices..

    many thanks for relevant feedback.
    Andrej.

  19. #19
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    Mar 2005
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    Erin, NY /Florence SC
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    Default Re: Careers in Beekeeping

    If you like a lot of sleepless windshield time, if you like working until you feel like your going to drop and then working another 16 hours, if you are willing to work in all weather conditions because commercial beekeeping doesn't wait a minute for you then your in the right place. If you like having every plan you made for the next week thrown out the window because a phone call from 1000 miles away has you on the road in an hour then this is the right work for you. Last month, January, our slow month - we did 2900 miles between home and SC and home and NYC. We figure we average 50MPH on the highway so just the driving time is 58 hours, or a regular work week and 18 hrs. OT. (not sure we got paid for the OT ) Spent a week in SC going through hives. We built 500 frames last week, organized 2 outbuildings, Sorted a couple hundred bee boxes confirming comb condition, painting etc and then loaded the good ones on the on a trailer headed south in 3 weeks and the less than ones are stacked for repairs, painting, new frames etc. next week. We processed 50 lbs of wax into candles, replaced an injection pump on our diesel truck in our shop, got through our honey house inspection and did a ton of business planning, equipment cleaning/organizing and snow plowing. Did I mention our phone rings off the hook and I spend an hour a day responding to e-mails. January is our slow month. I'll be away from family and home friends for 6 - 8 weeks in Mar/Ap/May tending hives in SC and as much as I love spring beekeeping the thought weighs on my mind and those who will miss me when I'm there.

    Sheri's observations are mine also. We have had to run down the roses many times. We've had a couple of full timers come through and full time beekeeping is a very different and committed life style. I have NYC staff who have been with us for years, my farm help usually realizes they can work less somewhere else for the same money. More often it's the wife or girlfriend who doesn't want them away from home for a week at a time or longer in most cases. I can't count the awesome days we have working bees. It is still beekeeping and those great summer bee days happen. Having said that beekeeping as my job and beekeeping as my hobby are two vastly different experiances. Although we love what we do, I love working with my son and we still live inside and are able to eat most months - I would suggest spending a couple of weeks in a commercial outfit shadowing , during busy season, before I gave up the day job and moved to New Zealand.

    Hmm 45K - where was that job listing :-)
    Last edited by Joel; 02-02-2013 at 09:50 AM.

  20. #20
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    Aug 2004
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    Lincolnton Ga. USA.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatscher View Post
    I know New Zeland is looking for beekeepers.
    I have looked and seen some stuff but where and why is new zeland looking for beekeepers, I just seen they are battling EFB.
    Ted

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