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  1. #1
    wannabee Guest

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    I am considering a business in commercial beekeeping and would appreciate some advice on this. I live in southern Ontario, horticultural zone 5. Could someone running a single person operation give me an idea of how viable commercial beekeeping is on this scale, and what is the best way to make it viable on this scale. How many hives can one reasonably manage? What is the production cost per pound with this approach? Any input would be a great help. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Langley, B.C. Canada
    Posts
    413

    Post

    wannabee ---have a look at this excellent site


    http://www.honeybeeworld.com


    Terry

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Carp, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    123

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    wannabee,

    Which Part of Ontario are you at? I am doing the same thing here, Many beekeeper at our area are running a single person operation, it looks like 200 hive is the magic number here, but will 200 hive doesn't come overnight so I decided to keep expand year after year and I will know the right number for me, next year I will be running about 60 hive, I am expecting to keep losing money as far as I am 1:2+ split my hives every years mainly since they have to draw a lot of foundation every year.
    I see it as a large initial investment in the begging with postponed return, and that what will make it very different to know the "production cost per pound” for the first few year, even after that every year will be different.

    Another thing will help, if you find another beekeeper who you can share extraction with, I am doing that with a friend of mine who also expanding rapidly, so if you find someone in your area who also starting an operation you will find a lot of ideas to save both of you a lot.

    The web page Antero mentioned above is an excellent one, it is helping us a lot, another one is http://www.gov.pe.ca/photos/original/af_fact_bee.pdf

    Good Luck
    Mahmoud

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Langley, B.C. Canada
    Posts
    413

    Post

    wannabee--a must for every beekeeper " The Hive and the Honey Bee" fifth printing 2000.


    Terry

  5. #5

    Post

    Seems like a wannabee commercial beekeeper would read the chapter in the above mentioned Dadant book that talks about the business aspects of beekeeping.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Central IL
    Posts
    261

    Post

    That canadian website is kind of depressing. It makes it look like you can't really make any money at it. The estimates there are a lot lower than what I had heard so far as far as expected yield per hive.
    Central IL... where there are more hogs than people and more soybeans than hogs and people put together.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
    Posts
    9,123

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    I think you have to add in pollination to be successful on a small to moderate size (400 colonies).

    When (and not if) we open the China honey floodgate the price will drop to $0.60 to $0.70 per pound. In my opintion you should plan on pollination, bulk sales, and packaging and marketing your own bee products on a local level (honey, pollen, tinctures, cosmetics).

    My game plan anyway.........

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Macon, GA USA
    Posts
    948

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    If I read it correctly, it projects a 40% overwintering mortality rate. It also assumes that all hives lost to overwintering are replaced by purchase -- not splits. That puts a serious dent in their projected bottom line.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Central IL
    Posts
    261

    Post

    a 40% mortality rate? I'm by no means an expert, probably closer to a novice, and I've never lost a hive over the winter. One swarm caught late in the season lost a queen and just didn't have time, but overwintering an established hive at a 40% loss???
    Central IL... where there are more hogs than people and more soybeans than hogs and people put together.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    North Georgia mountains
    Posts
    923

    Post

    I'm with you east...40%? I've had 0% mortality with the hives I brought into winter. I did buy out another operation a couple of weeks ago that went into winter with 42 hives and by the time I bought him out 24 had died and 3 more probably will, but that was due to starvation. The beekeeper had health problems that kept him from taking care of his bees and he didn't ask for help or make the decision to sell soon enough.

    BubbaBob

  11. #11

    Post

    Wannabee and stingray,
    You both have expressed this kind of interest. I have had wonderful experience working with a large beekeeper in my area. He lost 600 hives last year. He buys new queens every year. He has labor problems. He has a bad back. He uses run-down equipment. So there is a lot of hard work to accomplish success. But I have learned a lot from working with him. GO WORK WITH SOMEONE ELSE LARGER THAN YOU!

    People make a living at this. I have hear rumor that a NC beekeeper has a new F550 and swinger loader within the past few years. But I think he had a PHD scientist job to fall back on or support growth. David Hackenburg of Milton PA started in high school with just a few hives (his wife told me) and grew to pollinate up and down the east coast and has the most marvelous Honey House (18 wheelers fit in it, biggest Cowan equipment automated).

    Location matters. NC average per hive is 42 pounds. What is your states average?\

    What Canadian site did you read? Try http://www.honeybeeworld.com/ and read the diary, especially a few years back when he had thousands of hives. Personally, it just made me lustful for more bees. But after 4 years and selling lots of product, my tax man says I lost $800 last year, nto the $700 profit I thought. And this without paying myself.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    6,207

    Post

    I count on 15-20% losses. 20% loss would represent a bad winter. 40% losses in California now are not representative of all the losses in the states, or elsewhere. Hope that figure on losses gets stomped out quick
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    waco, tx
    Posts
    528

    Post

    <<Location matters. NC average per hive is 42 pounds. What is your states average?>>

    Where can you find this out (preferrably by areas in a state; TX is big & probably quite varied by area)? I'm in central TX.

    Thanks!

    Lew

  14. #14

  15. #15
    wannabee Guest

    Post

    thanks for all the responses bee people. forestbee asked where in southern ontario i am, i'm in burlington right now. i'm at best a year from considering a commercial startup and plan to take nursebee's advice on working with someone. thanks

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