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.
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.
- AsureQuality - quality assurance services for beekeepers
- New Zealand Management Agency of National American Foulbrood Pest Management Plan website - information about DECA registration and American foulbrood disease control
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.
Beekeepers need to:
- not have allergies to bee stings or pollen
reasonably fit, healthy and strong because some heavy lifting is involved
- have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses).
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.
Beekeepers need to be:
- good at keeping records
- committed to working safely and cooperatively with others.
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.
- 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.
There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a beekeeper, but agricultural and horticultural science, maths and biology to at least NCEA Level 2 are useful.
For Year 11 to 13 students, the Gateway programme is a good way to gain industry experience.
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 Training1-2 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.