Honey beekeepers build containers that encourage bees to make their hives in an orderly fashion. Beekeepers then collect honey from the hives, making sure to leave enough for the bees over the winter. Beekeepers follow a seasonal schedule, setting up new hives in the spring and harvesting in the fall.
Some farmers of other agricultural products also keep a small number of bee hives. These bees help pollinate their other crops every year, increasing crop yields. This also helps offset decreases in wild bee populations.
Humans have made hives for honeybees for hundreds of years, typically in the form of woven baskets. In the 19th century, Lorenzo Langstroth invented the modern box hive used by almost all modern beekeepers. These box hives space panels the optimum distance apart to encourage orderly hive construction by bees and allow easy access for harvesting surplus honey. Additionally, box hives separate the queen bee from most of the honeycomb so that larvae are only grown in one section of the hive.
Beekeeping is also popular among many farm hobbyists. Each hive typically takes about half and hour of work per week to maintain, plus two hours a year to extract the honey. Beekeepers typically cover hives for the winter to help the bees stay warm. Bees take care of themselves much of the time, though beekeepers must be vigilant for disease and parasites.