Beekeeping is one of the high risk activities in agriculture. Beekeepers are exposed to physical difficulties such as environmental conditions, stress, bee venom and smoke. As a result of these factors fatigue, illness, injuries and/or occupational accidents may occur.
The most common hazards associated with beekeeping include, but are not limited to the following:
Falling from heights is one of the most common accidents resulting in death in the apiculture sector.
Hive removal is normally done at heights e.g. rooftops, treetops and building ceilings.
Prevention is key to safeguard the beekeeper in this activity
Personnel participating in beekeeping activities should:
At a minimum, wear a beekeeping suit, hat and veil, elbow length gloves that are leather or nitrile, and closed-toe/closed-heel shoes;
Before entering the beekeeping area, personnel shall wear clean protective clothing/personal protective equipment. The protective clothing should be without holes to prevent bees from entry.
The ventilated hat should keep its shape and be firm enough to support the veils that fit over them and provide space that keeps the veil away from the face.
Veils are required when working closely with the bees. A folding wire veil should be fitted to the hat to ensure good separation between the beekeeper’s face and the bees outside the veil.
Dark felt hats and floppy hats should be avoided
Gloves need to be strong, but pliable;
Elbow length cloth sleeves attached to the gloves should be worn when gaining access to the inside of the hive;
A band of elastic should be sewn into the cloth sleeve at the elbow end to make it bee-resistant.
Closed-toe and closed- heel shoes should be worn.
All beekeepers must be guided by a safety policy; which is written statement of its guidelines to protect the health and safety of the master beekeepers, their employees, as well as the surrounding community.
In this policy beekeepers are made aware of the health and safety aspects of their trade in ensuring that health hazards and risks are eliminated or reduced.
E.g. Heat stroke risk- Work early mornings or evenings. Drink lots of water, take frequent breaks resting in shaded areas.