Bee Farming Apprentice
The bee farming apprenitceship is a great opportunity for a young enthusiastic hardworking individual to make a career in one of the UKs most interesting craft/ agricultural sectors. This is a 3 year appenticeship post, following which you will gain a diploma in excellence in bee farming.
The bee farming apprentice will join our experienced team of 3, and work alongside another more senior bee farming apprentice and 2 other beekeepers. The work is mainly outside during the summer months, but inside during winter. Split between working bees in the summer and undertaking jobs in the workshop, renewing and building frames/ beehive boxes, extracting, processing, jarring and labelling honey and being involved in sparkling mead production. There will also be a large involvement in sales and attending events throughout the UK.
Beekeeping sits at the core of our operation and we are lucky to have access to some of the most beautiful countryside in the UK. We manage over 200 hives and over 400 mating nuclei undertaking more advanced bee husbandry including queen rearing, instrumental insemination, and production of nuclei and queens to sell.
We want to hear from would be beekeepers who thrive in the countryside and love the outdoors and who understand the physical and emotional demands of working outside with bees, in all weathers, sometimes alone, and who have a willingness to learn new skills and techniques and the capacity to work efficiently and independently.
On undertaking this role you will enroll on the bee farmers association apprenticeship scheme.
The apprenticeship scheme is a three year programme, usually open to 16-24 year olds. However with our business being involved with producing and selling alcohol (Sparkling Mead) applicants will need to be over 18 to apply and upto the age of 24. Following completion of the apprenticeship you will gain a diploma in excellence in bee farming from the Wax Chandlers and Bee Farmers Association. It is also hoped for the right candidate to offer a permanent position in the company following completion of the apprenticeship.
There is also a good deal of manual work, lifting, carrying so you need to be fit and able. There is also need to be flexible on timings for work, including being able to work some evenings and early mornings in the active beekeeping season to facilitate moving bees sometimes during the night. Although this is usually only required a few times in the summer months. A good deal of work in the winter months is putting together frames, hive parts, making and processing honey, beeswax and candles.
Although working patterns have generally longer hours in summer we aim for earlier finishes in winter. The typical day in the winter months being 9am to 3pm, and the summer months being 8am to 5pm.
A full, clean driving licence as well as being able to work variable hours depending on the needs of the beekeeping season and variability in weather patterns.
If you already keep bees it would be expected that during the apprenticeship you are only involved with keeping bees for Northumberland Honey Co. This is in order to prevent any conflict of interest and potential disease transmission as we operate a closed system.
There is no requirement to already have beekeeping experience although it is desireable. A background in farming or jobs that are public facing and require a high degree of organisation and reliability are all transferrable skills for this position.
You must also not be allergic to bee stings. During the job there will be bee stings, it is an occupational hazard, although they are much less common than you would think
Salary is in line with the apprenticeship pay scale and living wage. Please be aware this is a training and learning post and therefore the salary reflects this. There is no cost to you for the education and qualification provided as part of the post.
A pension scheme is provided, 28 days annual leave and 10 days study leave per year for attendance on the bee farmers training weeks.
Salary example (salary is dependent on age)
Year 1 – £8,500
Year 2 & 3 – £15,360 – £17,280
Following on from the apprenticeship the right individual will be offered a full time professional beekeeper role. For reference the salary range for a professional qualified beekeeper at team leader level is £21,120 to £30,720.
In the active beekeeping season hours can be long, usually working from 8am to 5pm, on occassions having to work evenings when the weather and beekeeping work dictates. This is offset with reduced working hours in the winter months, on average working 9am to 3pm.
There are also occassional Saturdays and Sundays to work, but if this is the case time in lieu is given.
Average hours work out over the year at 160 hours per month.
There is a high degree of flexibility expected for working hours as with any farming, bee farming is highly dependent on the weather.