how much schooling is required to become a professional beekeeper?
the difference between being an amateur and a professional of anything is one does 'something' for the pleasure derived directly from the activity and the other does it for money. there is absolutely nothing that says one does the task better or more informed than the other.
in some communities there are programs like master gardener and master naturalist that requires taking classes and testing... which seem to me to be somewhat less formal than say acquiring a master degree in this or that area of knowledge (I have one of those in the field of economics). I seem to have heard people refer to other folks as master beekeepers, so I assume in some places there are informal programs of obtaining knowledge related to beekeeping similar to the master gardener or master naturalist programs.
There is no formal training required. Just the same if you wanted to open a restaurant, or most any other business.
But just as that successful restaurant owner needs to succeed, that same knowledge, experience, intelligence, motivation, capital investment, and many other things must be obtained, it is the same for beekeeping.
Most beekeepers start out small, work for another, or even work as state agriculture bee inspectors for a period of time. In Pennsylvania for example, there are 13 full time beekeepers. (A small amount compared to other states) And yet out of the 13, 9 are former state bee inspectors.
Most learning or experience can be compared to "On the job training" or if a beekeeper is lucky, along the lines of a apprentice type situation. Certainly those beekeeper making the transition into a full-time business would also benefit from schooling such as accounting, management, and a host of other classes. Some have also accumulated this through years of working other career fields, and through lifeâ€™s experiences.
To answer you in the shortest way....there is not formal school or training. But just as with many other career paths, those without the right business sense, do not make it. Some studies have shown, that across the board, 95% of all small business' fail within 5 years. I think the rate is the same with beekeeping. Although those failures may be on a smaller economic scale. If I was to open a restaurant, (just to compare), my initial investment may be several hundreds of thousands of dollars, taking into account equipment, buildings, etc. Most beekeepers on the other hand, start out small and build over years to a large operation. So those not able to run a small business or possess many of the required traits to keep the business afloat, pass by the way side. Not many beekeepers wake up one morning and buy a bee business for several hundred thousand dollars.
Coming here to a forum, you may not be coming into contact with many large successful operation. You may want to seek out some larger beekeeping operations, and seek some input, stories, profiles, and comments from those actually fitting the experience of what you are writing about.
I brought this young lady to the forum to get help on doing a school project. I told her she would find help, not wisecracks. I hope a couple of the above posts don't stop her from coming back. I would expect more from our members.
Actually it does require alot of extensive reading, researching and OJT on the job training to be sucessfull in bekeeping whether professional or amatuer. I classify my self as a amatuer, while harvesting honey and other products are a nice after thought and often times is the reward for your efforts to make things right for the bees. Weather plays a major role in everything associated with beekeeping. If you extensively research your job, learn what you can, when you see it in real life it reinforces what you have read and others have told you. After the preliminaries, at the end of the day you will become either your own " beemaster ", or you will abandon the thought as too hard. Myself--never one to allow something to " beat " me, I choose to continue on and see what else the bees will teach me, and trust me with live bees the learning curve is fairly quick. within 2 years you will know if you want to continue doing this is totally fun and enjoyable but is reakl work for a few monthes of the year, rest of the time the bees manage to survive without you *sigh * :goodpost: