“Humans have been keeping bees for thousands of years.”
Types of Beekeepers and Distribution of Colonies
Commercial Beekeeping has Changed Over Time
The chart below shows how beekeeping businesses have changed over time. For commercial beekeepers, there has been a shift over the last few decades towards pollination as a source of income, and away from honey production. The single biggest driver has been the increasing demand for bees to pollinate almonds. Almond acreage has expanded greatly between 1988 to the present day. These pollination services are a consistent revenue stream for most commercial beekeepers.
Something all beekeepers have in common is the many costs to keep healthy bees. While a backyard beekeeper must consider the cost of bees, hives, equipment, feed, and mite treatments, a commercial beekeeper has the added cost of scaling up labor, equipment, treatments, and transportation costs if they are migratory.
The chart below shows data relating to beekeeping costs from the USDA-NASS Honey Report, and from a special report from the University of California Issues Center
Best Management Practices
There are many resources available to beekeepers to learn what’s working best. Referred to as best management practices (BMP’s) these guidelines are informed by other beekeepers, and much of the research found in our database.
The Honey Bee Health Coalition offers comprehensive BMP’s on their webpage, including a detailed guide and ‘how-to’ videos for managing Varroa.
The American Beekeeping Federation maintains a list of state beekeeping associations that are available to help mentor new beekeepers.