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  1. #1
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    May 2005
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    As I like to imagine starting some kind of agriculture buisness, I'm not beyond the imaginagion part yet, I would like some input on what level of queen rearing it takes for it to be profitable. Who is doing it, or who do you know that is doing it and what does it take?

    How many queens do you need to raise, what are some of the difficulties in making it profitable, etc?

    Do most breeders primarily raise queens or is it normally a side line to honey and pollination?

    If you want to mate queens in a remote yard, how often are you out there working them? I would have to drive about 45min. to get to a remote location. (area where there are few beekeepers)

    I'm about halfway through Dr. Laidlaws, contemporary queen rearing, so thats about all the experience I have with raising queens, other than making a few splits and letting the bees raise queens. So obviously I'm talking long term imagination here.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >I would like some input on what level of queen rearing it takes for it to be profitable.

    That depends on what your market is. It's hard to compete with a big breeder who is rearing thousands with a lot of cheap labor and mass production involved. At least on price. If you have something special that people want you can charge a bit more.

    >Who is doing it, or who do you know that is doing it and what does it take?

    I can't say I make much money at it, but I sell a few queens. I could make a lot more money if I spent the time doing my day job.

    >How many queens do you need to raise, what are some of the difficulties in making it profitable, etc?

    There are (or at least in the last few years there were) some people who actually sell queens as cheap as $6 or $7 a queen. How can you compete with that? That wouldn't even pay for the equipment I use.

    >Do most breeders primarily raise queens or is it normally a side line to honey and pollination?

    I don't think most honey and pollination people have time to rear queens.

    >If you want to mate queens in a remote yard, how often are you out there working them?

    Well, the mating yard just takes about four trips per batch of queens. One to set up the mating nucs. One to put the cells in the mating nucs. One to check on them to see that they are laying and one to gather them up. Once the mating nucs are set up, in the in between batches, you may be able to combine the "set up the mating nucs" and the "put the cells in" and the "gather them up" steps into one trip where you catch the old queen, check for eggs and brood and put in the new cell. I'm doing it all in my one yard and just keep two other yards to keep some other genetics to keep them from getting too inbred. I'm in the hives doing something most every day. Confining a queen, setting up a cell builder, transfering the larvae, setting up the nucs, transfering the cells, checking on queens to see if they are laying. Catching queens to ship. etc.

    > I would have to drive about 45min. to get to a remote location. (area where there are few beekeepers)

    That would be a lot of work.

    >I'm about halfway through Dr. Laidlaws, contemporary queen rearing, so thats about all the experience I have with raising queens, other than making a few splits and letting the bees raise queens. So obviously I'm talking long term imagination here.

    Try raising some. When you have way more queens than you want you can try selling them. It's a lot of fun anyway. [img]smile.gif[/img] You can also use all the extras for swarm lure. [img]smile.gif[/img]
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
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    May 2005
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    $6 - $7 would really not be worth the effort. Not likely to get that low this year but could happen again in the future I suppose.

    So I would have to drop the idea of a remote location and do it at home. At least there would be plenty of drones but less controll over genetics.

    "Try raising some. When you have way more queens than you want you can try selling them. It's a lot of fun anyway. You can also use all the extras for swarm lure. "

    Thats the most likely scenario, of course first I have to get more hives going that actually produce something significant.

    Whats, your day job Michael, if you don't mind me asking? Is it 40hrs a week? You must stay busy. I don't really see me quiting my day job either as it is a fairly for sure paycheck. I would like a side business however that could allow for moving to a part time job at some point.

  4. #4
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    Mar 2003
    Location
    Lima, Ohio, USA
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    I don't think you have to raise many queens to be profitable. Whether you raise 100 queens, 1000 or more, one mating nuc can only raise x number of queens per year, and one cell building colony can only build x number of cells. (Exactly how many depends on your season and how you run your cell buiders, etc.) And for the most part the equipment cost is a one time thing (with some yearly replacement). I've personally found that time is probably the biggest expense. So as long as you charge a reasonable price you can actually pay for your equipment relatively quickly and start paying for your time. Of course running it as a second job where you don't have to cover medical insurance and other overheads certainly helps.

    -Tim

  5. #5
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    Good point that I haven't thought of tarheit. Also I enjoyed your website. You operation looks good.

  6. #6
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >$6 - $7 would really not be worth the effort.

    That's what I think too. But if you have something harder to find and if people want some quality instead of quantity, you might make something at $20 per queen.

    >So I would have to drop the idea of a remote location and do it at home. At least there would be plenty of drones but less controll over genetics.

    Maybe. Are there a lot of beekeepers close by?

    >Whats, your day job Michael, if you don't mind me asking?

    Contractor (Computer programmer/analyst/database administrator).

    > Is it 40hrs a week?

    Sometimes.

    > You must stay busy.

    Too busy.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
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    Lots of hobbiest beekeepers in my area. Possibly too many to have real big crops at my house. I hope thats not the case.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >Lots of hobbiest beekeepers in my area.

    Assuming they are within a couple of miles, give them all a queen of the genetics you want for your drones and you'll get your "Drone saturation" for "free".
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Wetumpka ,Alabama
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    510

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    Michael sounds like a military Job.

    Also don't count your bees before they hatch.Point being "Bolling Bees".Sometimes pest,drought,etc can over whelm an operation.I thought after watching it done for awhile I could just jump in and have 100's of queens in a year,didn't take into account you've got to have a good supply of bees to raise those queens (6 hives? not enough).Now I am rethinking it,stepping back and planning a little more.Build up the numbers of hives,start with a good base and go from there,see what happens.
    Like Michael said raise a few for my own use,if there are extras,so much the better.
    Good luck
    If you build it they will comb it.<br />Tim Rolan

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
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    What are the requirements to be "inspected?" I presume to hold down the spread of AFB.

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Here, since we eliminated our inspection program, I pay the inspector to come out. He looks for AHB, SHB, AFB, Varroa and Chaulkbrood, that I know of, and makes a report of what he found. So far in the last two years he's found no Varroa and two hives with a little chaulkbrood.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
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    Seattle, Washington State
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    I would say that just because other people have bees around you, you might or might not have the advantage of the drone congragation areas. I learned this from another queen breeder on this site.

    I am planning on rearing some queens this year. The hardest thing for me was to nail down a way to rear queens that work for me. I now have found the way I want to rear queens with little effort. I would even suggest that it is easier than the Ohio method. I work 60-70 hours a week so this schedule really does help out.

    If you are interested, feel free to email me at chefif@comcast.net
    Chef Isaac..Culinary Arts and Honey are a sweet mix! http://www.sweetascanbeehoneyfarm.com & http://www.adoptahive.info

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Whitefield, Maine USA
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    Interesting thread. I wouldn't even begin to try to compete with the bigger boys. Your market should at first be (relatively) local. There's a big shift these days toward locally raised bees and queens- as there should be. It just doesn't make sense to buy queens raised in Florida for introduction to a hive in Maine.

    This past summer I paid as little as $10 per queen (they arrived dead after 3+ days on the road) to a high of $19 for one I bought from Michael (way to go Michael!). Some I bought locally and I drove to pick them up, which I much preferred. The average price was $15 and shipping varied. Michael's shipping was highest, but a) his queen arrived from Nebraska in just a hair over 24 hours and b) it arrived alive and feisty. I'd gladly do it again.

    For hobbyist and small-scale beekeepers, low price is generally not the primary consideration. It's not for me. Price should NOT be the primary consideration in any case. Genetics and suitability for your location are most important.

    I intend to raise my own queens this year and I expect to have some to sell as well. Since I couldn't find a convenient queen rearing seminar to attend, I arranged for one. At my urging, my local beekeeping association has agreed to put one one on and has gotten Tony Jadczak, Maine State Apiariest, to teach it next Spring. It will be a 2 day seminar with an evening classroom session followed by a field session at my apiary. We've got 20+ people signed up to take it at $10 a head. I'm psyched [img]smile.gif[/img]

    George-
    Dulcius ex asperis

  14. #14
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    May 2005
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    I'm interested Chef, email on the way.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Berkey, OH, USA
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    Chef I sent you a PM. I would also be interested in how many hives are considered necessary to supply bees for queen rearing. I have built 10 2 frame mating nucs. Planning on using the Ohio method unless Chef convinces me otherwise. I am hoping to have a breeder queen and graft. I am thinking that I will probably have to restock the mating nucs every other batch or so. Is that about right?
    Economics would seem to be unfavorable considering your labor but I am doing it for fun, though profit wouldn't hurt! I like MB's idea about giving your neighbors some queens! might even generate a market later...

  16. #16
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    &gt;I will probably have to restock the mating nucs every other batch or so. Is that about right?

    Since I wait until each queen is laying the mating nucs become fairly self sufficient. The queen lays up all the brood they can handle and I pull the queen out and put in a cell that emerges two days later and two weeks later she starts laying and lays up all the brood they can handle. Until a queen doesn't make it back from mating. Then they may need some help.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
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    like a lot of things in agri-culture timing and detail are the primary driving force towards success...

    within the commercial queen rearing operation volume (ie number of turns of the mating nuc) defines profitability. michael bush has defined one system for running mating nucs (which I also prefer but assures you of the minimum number of mating nuc turns).

    my best guess is that each cell rearing hive requires 6 to 10 hives as support.

    in texas there are certain paper work formalities for selling queens and nucs.

  18. #18
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    &gt;my best guess is that each cell rearing hive requires 6 to 10 hives as support.

    I agree.

    &gt;in texas there are certain paper work formalities for selling queens and nucs.

    I have to get an inspection for most destinations, but Nebraska doesn't require any paperwork. I could raise them here and sell them here without an inspection. But, most states I can't ship to without an inspection certificate.

    Every state has it's own rules.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Lima, Ohio, USA
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    It all depends on how long you leave queens in the nucs before pulling them. I leave them in until they ship or I use them (which it better than banking), and I really like to see a full frame of eggs or more. So for the most part the nucs are self sufficent, with the occasional one that needs restocked often because more than one queen in a row failed to mate, but I have those where the queen was laying for several weeks and quickly can become very full. If you don't rush it you can end up splitting nucs or using frames of brood in the cell builder.

    I don't think it takes that many hives to support the cell builder. A standard deep frame has about 6450 cells, so it doesn't take too many frames of brood to keep it strong. Just adding 3 deep frames of brood a week is plenty and probably more brood that a productive queen in the hive would produce (at 1500-2000 eggs per day). So it may take as few as 3 hives to support the cell builder assuming they are also well fed and have good productive queens.

    Tabor writes that you need 200 young workers per queen cell to get good queens (or around 400 workers per cell when counting all ages.) So one full frame of brood hatching per week is more than adequate for feeding 30 cells at a time. So 3 mostly full frames should be enough for the queen cells and feeding any open brood.

    Personally I end up working more in 5 day cycles of grafting and adding brood because of the time it takes to go cap the queen cells to maximize production and to always have queen or open brood for the young bees to feed. Their glans will tend to atrophy if not used. I also tend to raise far fewer queen cells than tabors numbers would indicate can be done in a strong hive of 40,000+ bees.

    -Tim

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Seattle, Washington State
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    I agree with Tim. I think if you are rearing on a small scale, it might only take 2 hives to support one cell building hive depending on your set up. In my opinion, Tim has a method that gives you complete control and flexability at all times in the process of creating a vell building hive.
    Chef Isaac..Culinary Arts and Honey are a sweet mix! http://www.sweetascanbeehoneyfarm.com & http://www.adoptahive.info

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