You probably use products containing beeswax or honey every day, but have you ever thought about how they got from the hive to your home? It's all thanks to professional beekeepers.
So what, exactly, does a beekeeper do? The job entails maintaining bee colonies, keeping hives healthy and harvesting honey, among other responsibilities. Beekeepers play an important role in protecting bees, as the insects are crucial for more than just producing honey — they pollinate a third of everything humans eat, and about 84 percent of crops grown for human consumption depend on bees and other insects to increase their quality and yields, according to The Guardian.
Beekeeper Edwin Medrano told us all about how he got into his job and what it's really like to work with bees.
Business News Daily: What do you do?
Edwin Medrano: I am the executive steward and chief beekeeper here at Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center in Boston.
BND: What made you want to pursue the industry you're in?
Medrano: Before I was introduced [to the industry], I honestly was never considering being a beekeeper. And now I am so thankful I've had this opportunity. I've become very passionate about the bees and their plight as they face extinction.
BND: How did you get into your job?
Medrano: I became the chief beekeeper by a stroke of luck, really. Recycling is one of the primary aspects of our Seaport Saves environmental program. My stewarding team and I obviously work diligently to ensure we are recycling all that we can here at the Seaport Hotel, and I initially became very enthusiastic about these efforts. When our then-director of rooms was looking into starting a beehive, he noticed my enthusiasm, and it seemed like a natural extension for me to oversee the bees.
BND: What do you like about your job?
Medrano: I really enjoy the challenge and the satisfaction of working with the bees. You never know what you're going to find when you open a hive. We currently have over 1 million bees living in seven hives.
BND: What challenges do you face at your job?
Medrano: It's not a challenge so much as an ongoing effort — some people fear bees but love the products they create. Educating people about the bees is important, as we want our guests and the public to have a positive impression. I'm always further educating myself on how best to operate the hives and work with the bees.
BND: What's something people don't know about your job?
Medrano: They think the bees are my full-time job. The amount of work is significant — I put in 8 to 10 hours each week with the bees and two to three days straight when we harvest the honey. When they realize my job is overseeing the stewarding team here at the Seaport Hotel, they are surprised by the volume of my responsibilities.
BND: What's the most interesting thing you've ever done at your job?
Medrano: My initial education was most interesting. For three months I attended classes at the Norfolk Agricultural School in Walpole, Massachusetts, to learn about the bees. They are a wonderful resource for those looking to get into beekeeping.
BND: Do you have any advice for others pursuing a similar career path?
Medrano: Go to "bee school." They are true professionals who are extremely knowledgeable. I would encourage those with an interest [in this field] to pursue beekeeping. No other animal species plays a more significant role in producing the vegetables and fruits that we often take for granted.