What do beekeepers do?
Beekeepers help bees by providing hives for them to live in, and in return, the bees make honey for us humans to enjoy. Beekeepers make hives for the bees. They put frames inside them, made of wood and wire panels coated with beeswax and embossed in a honeycomb shape. These frames give the bees a head start for building their own honeycomb. Beekeepers also make regular visits to the hives to check on the bees and the honey.
When they see the honey’s ripe, the beekeeper smokes the hive to calm the bees (because calm bees are less likely to sting). Beekeepers only take a few frames each time, as we don’t want the bees to be without any honeycomb. By slicing the wax top off the honeycomb, beekeepers can get out all the honey they need. Now the honey’s ready to be packed into glass jars or squeezy bottles and sent to shops for us all to buy and enjoy.
Here in the UK, sadly there are very few examples of natural hives out in the wild. Bee numbers have been dropping steadily over many years, mostly due to bee disease and climate change. Therefore as a rule, in the UK, yes honey bees do need beekeepers in order to survive. Beekeepers look after bees, ensuring that the colony remains in good health and has enough food for the winter. Beekeeper numbers have also been dropping in the UK, so we need to encourage more people to become beekeepers so that we can increase honey bee numbers. Read all about our scheme to encourage young people to take up beefarming as a career, by clicking on this “Sussex Plan” link.