Employment Prospects


Beekeeping is a small and specialized profession. The National Honey Board (NHB) estimates that there are approximately 115,000 to 125,000 beekeepers in the United States, and many are hobbyists with less than 25 hives. There are approximately 1,600 commercial beekeeping operations in the United States (defined as those with 300 or more bee colonies). Honey production is highest in the following states: California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, North Dakota, Louisiana, and New York. The vast majority of beekeepers today do not depend on beekeeping for their income; they're known in the trade as "sideliners" or hobbyists. Most beekeepers run their own independent business rather than work for a large commercial establishment.

Starting Out

Since most beekeepers work independently, the best route of entry is to learn the basics and invest in some starting equipment. You can contact your local beekeeping association for advice. Keep in mind that if you hope to raise bees for commercial profit, you will need a substantial amount of capital to get started, and you're likely to face several years without profits while you work to increase honey production. If you live in an area where bees are raised, you should contact local beekeepers who may hire you for part-time or seasonal work.

Advancement Prospects

Advancement in this field most often comes as beekeepers increase the number of hives they own and increase their commercial sales. It isn't likely that new beekeepers will be able to support themselves by beekeeping alone; most likely it will be a hobby or a sideline to supplement their living.

Tips for Entry

Read Bee Culture ( and American Bee Journal ( to learn more about the field.

Talk to beekeepers about their careers. Ask them for advice on breaking into this profession.

Work as an assistant or volunteer in a commercial beekeeping operation to learn the ropes and make industry contacts.