Bee farming challenges that bees and farmers experience

Bee farming challenges that bees and farmers experience

In case you didn’t know, we know of almost 20,000 different species of bees. Of those 20,000 black-and-yellow rascals, around 4,000 are indigenous to the United States. But still, we only take care of a few species for our needs. This means that 99% of them are wild and fly around at their will.


But why are we into beekeeping at all? What’s the catch? Well, aside from honey, beekeeping is critical for numerous reasons. From food security to the survival of plants and animals, they all rely on these precious flying insects. Unfortunately, due to two main factors (urbanization and the use of pesticides), the population of bees is declining.


This isn’t just bad news for our honey supply. That’s not as important as the survival of food security and biodiversity. Without our little black-and-yellow rascally friends, the world we live in won’t look anything like it does now. Therefore, it’s pretty much necessary that everyone joins the fight to keep the bee population at an optimal level.

What Is Bee Farming?

Before we mention the difficulties and why you should help with beekeeping, we must explain what it is. Namely, bee farming or keeping is a business. It is based on honey management, and it’s pretty profitable. It’s something people around the world do, as it has numerous benefits on our way of life. Beekeeping works on both small and big scales.


Like all other businesses, bee farming needs to be sustainable. To do so, farmers have to consider honey management, as well as keeping bees healthy. This means thinking about pollinator health too. All this adds up to producing health products (honey, wax, royal jelly, etc.), upping the pollination process, and the overall food cycle.

Beekeeping and Farming Process

Bees are social insects, and they live in hives that comprise colonies. These honey bee colonies and hives consist of three kinds of bees — worker bees, the queen, and drones. All worker bees are females, yet, they don’t breed. Their job is to do pretty much everything, from protecting the hive and eggs to collecting the nectar. On the other hand, the queen is the one that delivers two types of eggs — fertilized (workers) and unfertilized (drones). And thirdly, drones are males that fertilize the queen and die soon after.


When it comes to equipment, there are a couple of basic things every farmer needs. They include hives, frames, protective veils, suits, smokers, etc.


  • Hives are man-made structures, usually from wood. They come in all sizes, but the regular ones are around 20 inches (ca. 51 cm) long, 16 inches (ca. 41 cm) wide, and 9 inches (ca. 23 cm) in height.


  • Frames are shapes that are often rectangles inside the hives, and it’s where bees make honey and plan for the winter.


  • You’ve probably seen bee veils by now. They go over the keeper’s head and serve to protect them in case bees try to sting them.


  • Just like veils, suits are protective gear that shields keepers’ bodies from stings when they open the hive to collect the honey.


  • Lastly, smokers are essential when it comes to farming bees. This equipment blows smoke so that keepers can distract the bees while they take the honey. Smoke is effective because bees think that the hive is on fire, so they begin to prepare for migrating. This allows keepers to do their job without much fuss.

Bee Diseases

One of the main struggles in farming bees is that they, too, suffer from diseases. For example, the Varroa mite is a common problem for European species. On the other hand, there are also brood diseases, including the American and European foulbrood. These diseases can affect our black-and-yellow friends in all phases of their lives, from larval to pupal.


Other common diseases include nosema and viruses. Nosema comes about due to parasitic involvement, and it can create a whole host of difficulties. In a similar fashion, viruses don’t just attack humans — they enjoy devastating hives just as well. The Deformed Wing and Chronic Bee Paralysis viruses are often behind major colony losses, for example.

Supply Costs

Another issue when it comes to farming bees is money. Like all businesses, beekeeping costs are due to various factors. This is especially true in the beginning, so many people who are willing to give it a shot become shocked. All the equipment we’ve mentioned earlier costs real money. From hives to gloves, you’ll be looking at hundreds of dollars.

Nevertheless, it’s not just about buying the smoker and a couple of man-made hives. Anyone working with bees needs to buy them first. Depending on the bee species you’re after, you’ll once again be looking at hundreds of dollars. Luckily, nowadays, you can find starter packs that include both equipment and actual bees.

How You Can Help

Since we’ve mentioned how important bees are to our world and that their numbers are going down, it’s key to help out. Yep! All of us can do at least something to contribute to the overall fight. You don’t need to be a beekeeper to do so, so let’s talk about other ways of keeping beehives and their health at an optimal level.


The first idea that comes to mind is to make sure we have green gardens and yards, as they’re vital food sources for our little friends. This includes growing flowers and leaving weeds. As such, we’ll make sure they have enough food and shelter during the Spring season when they’re on the prowl for blossoming flowers.


But it’s not just about having lovely yards. You can help out by reducing all the unnecessary landscaping activities. These include constant mowing and pruning. This also means lowering urbanization processes. By doing so, we’ll increase the level of vegetation, which is crucial for their survival.