The beekeeping community is a great and open community. As a Linux “nut” and a DIY guy, I am able to make many comparisons between beekeepers, Do-It-Yourselfers and open source software people. There is a great general approach to sharing information and making resources available among members of the communities.
At the same time, There are people within the communities who spend vast amounts of time, energy, resources to create and provide materials and support for others who earn any and every penny they can from those they support.
In order to make a living in the beekeeping field, much as in the other areas, there are a couple of ways that it can be done reasonably.
Firstly, A resource/support provider can charge a rate for “direct” support and service. This falls into the “let me do that for you” category. While many beekeepers seeking assistance and resources from the beekeeping community in general love to connect with each other to teach and learn, it’s something else entirely to expect someone to take time out to come and do something for someone else.
In the DIY, open-source and beekeeping communities, there are some people who voluntarily become a mentor to others without charging a fee. Just out of the kindness of their heart and their willingness to help others. A great character trait to be sure and wonderful to find when a person could use a hand. However, volunteer mentors are exactly that, volunteers. They usually have a “day job” to pay their bills and they have family and friends they do things with so their time and opportunity to mentor others is limited to what opportunity and time they have left-over from the job and family. I think everyone can appreciate and respect that.
Someone making a living from their beekeeping efforts is doing so almost always as a self employed person. The way they pay their bills, take care of their families, etc.. is by making valuable services and resources available at the convenience of the client. They work on the client’s schedule, coming out to do a particular service for that client at the client’s convenience instead of making the person wait until and if some free time comes up for a volunteer mentor to become available.
In other situations, people live in areas where there are few or no volunteer resources, no mentors available but they still need help to come to them when on their schedule. the professional apiarist (beekeeper for hire) is able to accommodate those remote clients, providing them the services and resources they need, when they need it.
The second way someone can work as a professional apiarist and make a living (or try to) in their beekeeping is to offer and make available various types of resources and opportunities on an ongoing basis then asking for either donations, small fees to access or in some cases, pull together a group of supporters or patrons who appreciate all the work and effort the pro apiarist is doing and make regular contributions to support that work and help keep it going.
Some pro apiarists do one way, some the other other, some blend the two together. No matter how they arrange it, it’s no “easy” career path. It’s a case of following a passion and taking what you can make of it. No one gets “rich” in terms of money from this though their levels of personal satisfaction and self fulfillment are through the roof.
There those folks in all of those communities, DIY, Open Source and beekeeping, who seem to think they are “owed” help and support for free all the time. But by and large, most people “get it” and when they really need that experienced caching or just need to step away and let someone with the knowledge and experience to do it right get it done, they go with the paid pro apiarist without hesitation.
No matter what, the beekeeping community just like the DIY and Open Source/Linux communities are filled with endless opportunities to grow one’s knowledge and skills at their activity of choice. Take what you can, give back when you can and for some, take the next step and become the next creator who makes whole new resources and opportunities available. There is plenty of room in all those communities for the hobbyist and the pro alike. The point is, whether you approach it as a hobbyist or a Pro, you are in the game loving every minute of it.