The high tech world, while paying well has played me out and I'm thinking about getting into beekeeping as a business to provide income for my family.
I've kept a couple of hives as a hobby for almost 10 years and after making almost every mistake possible I'm beginning to run out ways to irritate my bees!
Here are my questions:
1) How many hives can one mere 42 year old mortal with a decent back and a couple of summer-time teenagers handle?
2) How many hive would you need to generate $35K to $45K per year gross.
3) What kind of production do you see from these hives? (Honey, wax, propolis, etc)
4) Can you make any money doing this or is it a just a really neat hobby until you step in with the big boys and start trucking thousands of hive around?
5) What are your yearly loss rates (winter kill, bears, teens with attitudes, etc) per year.
Thanks so much for your replies. I'm sure they will be a much needed reality check!
I am NOT a professional beekeeper. I've observed Beekeeping for many years. I'd say it's like most businesses. You have to know what markets you can get into. Propolis, honey, wax, pollenation etc. You have to minimize your expenses. You can easily spend more than you make on this and that. You need to design your system to minimize labor and handle and monitor the mites. If you do all of this you can make a living. Not what you make in the tech world by any means.
Making a permanent business change from hobby to sideliner can be risky, but, lots of folks do it. To generate the income you are talking about my guess would be 200 hives and that would be manageable by the family. The products are endless, honey in all sizes(honey bear,1,2,5lb,honey comb, creamed, honey butter),Beeswax candles(all different sizes and types), handcreams, soaps, pollen, propolis and the list goes on and on. You have to spend a lot of time at shows and have a good web site to help carry this through. If you manage your hives well you will see minimal losses but there is no guarantee. You will probably have to make a large investment at first to see any headway and you need to know your market. A beekeeping business may not be as stressful as the Tech World but to bee sucessful you need to put in a lot of time and comittment to relize results. It does get easier as time goes on. GO FOR IT!!! have fun. Steve
As is with any business, a written plan with costs,projections, a 1-3-5 year timelime, and the like are a must. 35k to 45k is very easy to forcast out. There are several ways to proceed to that income level. Having an initial investment for start-up cost (and how much) will determine how fast this income level will be achieved. I would be more than willing to e-mail you with a detailed business plan as it is much too involved to list here. If you e-mail me I can also find out your desire or willingness/sacrifice level. MIKEANDIDA@CS.COM
Thanks for the replies! I'll be crunching the numbers and counting my pennies! Any other opinions are welcome!
If you are still considering a business in beekeeping, check this eBay item http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...&category=1269
It is a whole beekeeping operation (>100 hives) for $15,000 (biding starts at $10K)
I've check this out and had the person listing it send me a detailed list of items included. My questions are:
1) What is a good price per hives?
2) How hard is it to ship bees from MS to Washington state? Are there people who do this? 100 hives plus tanks and bottling equipment sounds like a semi to me!
What do you all think?
Two concerns I would have:
1. The cost of shipping would be high.
2. Define exactly what materials, supplies, bees, and equipment that you need for the business that you want. Then ask if his list fits. The focus down south may be totally off what you need in Washington, as far as equipment goes.
You may be able to buy new woodenware/wax from Montana/Idaho/Oregon woodenware manufactures (there are three that come to mind) in cheap bulk quantities for less than ancient used and rotted wood secondhand. Contact local commercial beekeepers and purchase nucs to fill your new woodenware. You might be much further ahead.
Also there is a beekeeper that has advertised singles somewhere in Idaho for many years in ABJ (american bee journal). There is also a retiring beekeeper in Montana advertising in ABJ to sell out. Both much closer to you.