The “point” of professional bee removal

There is a purpose and a point to being differentiated as a “professional” live bee removal specialist.  That being that it introduces the person as someone who is doing this as a means to make a living and that they will complete the task to the needs and requirements of the customer.

Most hobbyist and amateur live bee removal people are in it for themselves to obtain more bee colonies.  That’s fine as long as everyone involved understands that.  The amateur/hobbyist fills a need in the marketplace for low cost or even no cost to the customer removals.  They generally take the “low hanging fruit” or the less challenging stuff.  That’s a good thing.

Being a professional though requires bringing more to the table.  Proper tools and equipment, liability insurance, sometimes having certain required or desirable certifications or registrations, etc…  these are all overhead that need to be covered.  The cost of doing business if you will.

The paying customer needs someone who can de-escalate a potentially unsafe situation with bees.  They need someone to, at a minimum, remove the nest whenever possible and prepare the voidspace to prevent re-habitation by future swarms.  Also, there is a need to prepare the newly emptied space to be closed up again and repaired properly.  This is important whether doing the repair yourself or if someone else will follow up afterwards.

The professional live removal specialist has to accept that not every colony will be able to be saved and finish the job as best as possible regardless.  It’s not just about getting bees to take home.  That’s not guaranteed.  Getting the job done right should be the first focus for the professional.

Live removal professionals often end up taking the more challenging jobs because they have the experience, time, equipment and resources necessary to do so.

You have to bee honest with customers about what you can do.  If you bite off more than you can chew, your setting yourself, the customer and likely the bees, up for failure.

Live bee removal as a professional service specialty is still a burgeoning area.  More and more pest control companies are reluctant to kill bees and in some jurisdictions, is even illegal or highly discouraged.

In many situations, insurance companies or localities require that work be done on buildings and other structures by an insured, professional service provider.  In many of those situations the bees do often end up being killed because there are no professional live removal specialists around.

There’s no need for animosity or negativity between hobbyists\amateurs and professionals in this area.  As awareness grows and urban sprawl continues to take harborage away from nesting bees, there is plenty to be done for the industrious and self initiating bee person.

Technically Speaking…

I am a technician.  In multiple, various ways.  Professionally, I actually am a certified computer network technician.  I was a licensed and registered pesticide applicator.  Personally, I consider myself an “amateur” scientist in that I don’t get paid to engage in research but I am actively involved in R & D and testing various methodologies, techniques, and products as related to beekeeping.

So I generally approach everything from a technician point of view.  It’s just how I roll.  Below is a pretty general and common definition of a technician, at least by Google standards.

I happen to fall into all three of these.  I maintain and operate professional equipment, I have been specifically educated and trained to apply information, techniques and concepts based on scientific research, and yes, I am a beekeeper which does indeed count as an art and a craft and yes, does require skill to be successful.

When I talk about bees and beekeeping in presentations, classes, online, or pretty much anywhere, I come at it from a technician mindset.  We employ the scientific process all the time as beekeepers, especially when including Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in our operating plan.

After spending many years as a professional technician in other fields, I come to beekeeping almost instinctively at this point using the same mindset.

As a contributor to Bee Smart beekeeping project here, I have a few purposes driving my participation.  One, I beelieve that beekeeping is generally a hobby for the vast majority of people and it should be enjoyable.  Beekeeping should bee fun.  By trying to include some entertainment, even at my own expense, I hope to help others have fun and remember some of the things we share here more because of the association of being amused while learning.

Two, I want to encourage and foster a “next step” in professional apiarist careers and services.  Time and technology marches on and as they do, so must beekeeping.  Hobby beekeeping will always be around I think but making a primary living at it must evolve.

This is where JPtheBeeman, myself and others have taken our directions to involve ourselves professionally in beekeeping but not in the conventional role as a migratory pollinator or in substantial honey production.

We encourage some folks to take some risks, bee adventurous, and do something unique that helps make everyone involved a winner.  I want to help people take that step and so have built my business on live removal and relocation services combined with skills training and education as a coach and instructor.

So, whether read my articles, posts and watch my videos and hear me on the podcasts, that’s the point where I’m coming from, a technician with a passion for bees.

Opportunities Abound

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.

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