The role of most beekeepers is to provide a comfortable home for a bee colony and to nurture it while disturbing it as little as possible. It's good to think of bees as being wild. Even though you can keep them in your garden - it's impossible to stop them leaving if they want to. To be a successful beekeeper, you must understand the natural instincts of the bee and the organisation of the hive. The activities of beekeepers today are increasingly important as the numbers of truly wild, unmanaged colonies has declined due to pollution and the destruction of habitats in the wild.
Your mission as a beekeeper, should you choose to accept it, would be to help the colony to grow strong and healthy. If successful, the colony would produce more honey that it requires and you would be able to harvest the excess. There are three main types of beekeepers in the world:
An amateur beekeeper might have anywhere between 1-40 hives. Over this number and you have to start spending all your time with the bees.
Commercial beekeepers typically have over 40 hives and spend most of their time tending to them. They may be keeping bees to produce honey or hiring the bees out to farmers for crop pollination. Hiring colonies has become a huge business - especially in America where some bee farmers have literally thousands of hives which they move to wherever they are needed.
A bee inspector is a beekeeper with a large amount of experience. If you keep bees, then at some point you may have your bees inspected. Every area has a local bee inspector and it's a good idea to find out who your local inspector is. If your bees become ill, sometimes you are required to report the illness to the inspector. You won't be in trouble but will be helping reduce the risk of your bees transferring the disease to other colonies. The inspectors are managed centrally by the National Bee Unit.