What skills do you need or can expect to develop as a beekeeper.
The honest answer is it will depend on what level of beekeeping you want to achieve, the Beefarmer has a rather different skill set to the two colony hobbyist but they share too a number of abilities.
In no particular order of importance.
Disease recognition, this cannot be over emphasised as a primary skill.
Colony reading, the ability to see what is going on and to work out what they bees need from you. It is often over looked but the answer can be nothing thanks we are just fine on our own.
Being able to work the brood box to the colonies benefit.
Migratory skills, the ability to move colonies to other pastures with out doing harm is another requirement especially if one is commercially minded.
Recognising bee flora, is an essential ability. Oil seed rape is pretty conspicuous but would you recognise a good heather moor? Or a good clover pasture? Or a hawthorn hedge, or an avenue of lime?
Something to bear in mind when getting excited about planting for bees is our old friend pye x r squared. Bees under normal conditions will cover roughly a mile out from the hive which gives an area of 3.1415927 square miles. If they are working 1.5 miles that adds up to 7.068583575 square miles, which is impressive. By all means plant bee friendly mixtures and have fun watching the bees at work, but also keep in mind that they do cover pretty big areas depending on what the scouts bring home as samples.
Being able to use a microscope even on a very primitive level, as I do, can tell you if you have or how bad the level is of Nosema, and for that matter if you have Accarine present.
Then there is the whole field of processing honey and wax. Learning to extract competently, how to filter the honey and the not so simple task of filling jars accurately.
Filtering wax is another job again that needs to be tackled as wax is a valuable by product, and one that is detested by many in the craft due to the difficulties it presents. None the less competent wax handling can make you or indeed save you quite considerable sums of money. Wax can be traded in for foundation, not always though the most effective use of this resource, or it can be value enhanced by making hand creams, polishes and or candles. Of course it can also be made into home made foundation, it don’t go as far as the product is thick but the bees love it.
Some food for thought then. 🙂