Beekeeping is pursued by some 200-300 commercial bee farmers who depend on beekeeping for all or part of their income, but it is dominated by some 33,000 amateur beekeepers who pursue the craft for interest. The economic value of honey bees as crop pollinators is much greater than their value as honey and wax producers.
The dominance of non-commercial beekeepers presents particular challenges. Without specialist support their investment in the required measures to promote or manage bee health or to collaborate to address common problems is likely to be limited. These difficulties are compounded because many beekeepers are not members of any beekeeping associations and are not recorded on BeeBase, making them difficult to reach and include in the disease surveillance programme operated by the National Bee Unit‟s (NBU‟s) Bee Inspectors.