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Thread: Expensive hobby

  1. #1
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    Aug 2003
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    Hotlanta, GA
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    Exclamation

    I know I ask very general questions and I apologize, but one thing I've noticed is that this is a VERY expensive hobby! Anyone care to share their cost-cutting tips? I would be very appreciative and think it would be a great resource for all new to beekeeping.
    I'm definately all for building my own supers, but I would only be able to make butted joints with screws a la Michael Bush. At Home Depot, I come up with a cost for white pine medium supers at around $6.50. Since I can buy finger jointed supers at $9.00, I think the extra sturdiness and ease is probably worth the $2.50. I remember someone else mentioning using plywood, and I wonder how that went.

    Thanks in advance, all.

    ps. PC users - would you recommend using PC exclusively? Or would a mix of PC/foundation be worthwhile?

  2. #2
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >I know I ask very general questions and I apologize, but one thing I've noticed is that this is a VERY expensive hobby!

    Yes it is.

    >Anyone care to share their cost-cutting tips?

    Try a top bar hive. Scrounge the dumpsters at job sites for lumber (good to ask permission first).

    >I'm definately all for building my own supers, but I would only be able to make butted joints with screws a la Michael Bush. At Home Depot, I come up with a cost for white pine medium supers at around $6.50. Since I can buy finger jointed supers at $9.00, I think the extra sturdiness and ease is probably worth the $2.50.

    You can buy budget medium supers at Western Bee Supply for $5.50.

    >I remember someone else mentioning using plywood, and I wonder how that went.

    I've used plywood. When I get it free for scrap it's a good choice. When I have to buy it, it's expensive.

    >PC users - would you recommend using PC exclusively? Or would a mix of PC/foundation be worthwhile?

    I have it all mixed up right now because I'm swapping out the comb for the PC. If you use all PC in one box and all foundation in another box it's easy. If you mix them in the same box it's difficult. The spacers that come with the PC don't fit the wooden frames very well.

  3. #3
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    Has anyone ever had any problems using Budget hive parts? I saw somewhere that some have milling defects, just wondering if its worth the savings.

  4. #4
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    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
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    >I know I ask very general questions and I apologize, but one thing I've noticed is that this is a VERY expensive hobby! Anyone care to share their cost-cutting tips? I would be very appreciative and think it would be a great resource for all new to beekeeping.

    Hobbies are a luxury, it's a rare occasion that one can make a profit with a hobby. When you do start to make a profit, it turns into a small business. I suggest you think of yourself in a small business to begin with. Do the research, ask the questions and share what you have learned with others, even with those that have been doing it longer than you.

    >I'm definately all for building my own supers, but I would only be able to make butted joints with screws a la Michael Bush. At Home Depot, I come up with a cost for white pine medium supers at around $6.50. Since I can buy finger jointed supers at $9.00, I think the extra sturdiness and ease is probably worth the $2.50.

    I bought mediums form Browning Cut Stock, cost $6.69 freight included. I have learned that the freight in this industry makes a BIG difference. I've seen a $12.95 dollar turn into a $25.00 item, and that hurts.

    > I remember someone else mentioning using plywood, and I wonder how that went.

    I make my own screened bottom boards with plywood. It is best to use the exterior type wood and be sure to prime and paint heavily on the edges. If you don't seal the edges it will come all apart.


    >Thanks in advance, all.

    No prob

    >ps. PC users - would you recommend using PC exclusively? Or would a mix of PC/foundation be worthwhile?

    I am one of the lucky ones, I didn't have too much equipment when I decided to go with PC exclusivly. I cut down most of my deeps and have been buying PC as I can afford it. A medium box with 9 PC will cost me about $37.50, glue, screws, paint, and freight included. To afford that there has to be a return in your investment. A return of investment in any small business is not immediate, if ever. We are like small farmers, a lot of what we harvest is dependant on the weather.

    My best advise is look at what your end goals are. Are you going to do this long enough to make the equipment pay for itself? If you are then buy the equipment that will last the longest and put enough effort into your construction methods that will give you the longest time to reap your rewards. Do things right the first time.



    ------------------
    Bullseye Bill
    Smack dab in the middle of the country.

  5. #5
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    I haven't bought any budget. Everything I have bought so far is commercial.

  6. #6
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    Apr 2002
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    Round Top, New York - Northern Catskill Mtns.
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    Equipment & Bees aren't cheap.
    I have bought most of my equipment used from other people looking to get out of beekeeping. Frames I buy new.
    I have bought the seconds with boxes, the hand holes are inside out or upside down, a cleat fixes this problem and the bees don't care.
    I make my boxes from rough cut lumber that I can get from the local saw mills. I use butted joints, screws and glue. The materials work out to about $2.00 or so a box.
    I am not a cabinet maker by any means, but the girls don't seem to mind.

    If this is a hobby, it's a hobby and enjoy it, get into it only as much as you want and can afford.

  7. #7
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    >Has anyone ever had any problems using Budget hive parts? I saw somewhere that some have milling defects, just wondering if its worth the savings.

    I usually buy "commercial grade". That means it may not be pretty, but it's servicable. The budget grade usually is fine, but sometimes is difficult to get to go togther. Sometimes it's a bit warped or has a milling defect that requires a bit of woodworking, but usually Budget grade works ok. I got some "Budget grade" frames from Western Bee Supply and they were fine. If in doubt, buy a few budget grade parts and see what you think before you buy a lot of them.


  8. #8
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    Aug 2003
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    Hotlanta, GA
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    I noticed Western Bee had budget medium supers for $4.40; however, to send it to Atlanta, it would run around $4.20 for UPS per super making it $8.60. Rather unfortunate to live so far away from what looks like the cheapest source of equipment.

    FYI, the sale on the budget supers at Western Bee ends the end of this month for those interested. Click on monthly specials.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Wyoming MN
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    Yes, it is expensive, but everyone can cut corners somewhere. Everyone cuts different corners though. Also, after getting set up, the costs go down a lot.
    I was lucky, and inherited most of my boxes- if you choose to build your own, you need to figure the cost of your labor. Sometimes, for some people, it is actually just cheaper to buy the stuff.
    Find the beginner thread, and see what people listed as essentials. Some stuff you need right away, other stuff you can get later, depending on your schedule.
    See if your library has any books you can borrow and/or check the used book stores in town. Post a notice at the local feed mill looking for used equipment.
    Start small. Two hives, or Three max. Get the brood boxes now, get them ready, then in spring after you get your bees get another set or two of boxes ready.
    Christmas and birthdays...If your family is the type that is receptive to it, drop LOTS of hints. Depending on the budget-a hive tool fits in most stockings, gift certificates work really well too.
    If you don't have a bee suit, you can get by without one in most cases. My dad worked his hives for years with just an extra long- sleeve shirt on, tied around the waist, and his pants legs sealed around his boots.
    Look into renting an extractor the first year or two, until you can justify the purchase.
    Yes, it is an expensive hobby, but like any hobby-if you really like it, it is worth the investment. Is there another vice that you can skim money from? (casino's, fast food for lunch every day, three packs of cigarettes a day, you name it, most all of us can probably find a couple extra bucks somewhere.)
    On a final note, look at your tax situation, and keep track of your receipts, if you do end up making money at this hobby, you don't really want a nasty surprise from Uncle Sam.
    Have fun with it.

  10. #10
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    Nov 2002
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    Ames, Iowa
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    Maybe I missed it, but I don't think anyone has mentoned clubs. Are there any in your area? If not, maybe you could find a few beekeepers locally and buy in bulk to save money.

  11. #11
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    I raised bees for 30 years before I bought an extractor. It's just nice to have, not necessary.

    Used equipment can be cheap if you can find someone who's just trying to clean out the garage. It can be expensive if someone is hoping to recoup their investment. I bought two truck loads and a small trailer load of equipment for $200 this year, but that doesn't happen every day.

    Personally, when I was poor, I bought enough equipment for one hive and made the rest from scrap lumber. I also made a Top Bar Hive, a Trough Hive and I even tried a simple box hive. All were interesting experiments and didn't cost me anything but the time to build them.

    The frames are a lot of work to build from scratch, but boxes are easy. I make them with just a skill saw and 1/4 drill with a phillips tip.

    What you have to have:

    Bees.
    A box to put them in. (Langstroth, TBH, Box hive, tree trunk. )
    A pry bar of some kind (hive tool)
    A veil.
    A smoker.
    A brush or a large quill feather. (Watch for road kill turkeys or pheasants)

    Everthing else is optional.

  12. #12
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    Aug 2001
    Location
    East Hardwick, VT USA
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    22

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    another place to save money is on the bees themselves. Make your own splits to replace deadouts or to increase number of hives.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Drums, PA, USA
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    I think if you build as much as possible, you can save money. Frames take alot of time, but if you build 100 at a time, and set up for the cuts once, its not bad. I would rather some of the stuff I build, especially frames. I build them a bit sturdier, and the last longer. Boxes and budget stuff? If bees live in the wall of a house, I don't think they care. I always get a kick out of the ad that says, "These are knot free, and the clearest of western pine"! I'm not really quoting anybody, but everybody sees the ads! For me, as kong as knots are not falling out, or if they can be glued, its fine with me. I am fortunate to have a wood shop, and a sawmill less than a mile away. Unplaned wood is cheaper, and you can plane it to your desired thickness. One might even aproach a sawmill, and see if they will plane wood for you. It might be cheaper in the long run. I also buy the air dried wood. The kiln dried stuff tends to swell around here. If you are small, don't get an expensive bottler. Buy a honey gate and make a five gallon bucket the bottler. Check out supermarkets with delis. Chances are, they buy alot of stuff in buckets. My local store sells them for a dollar.

    By all means, treat it as a business, cut corners when feasible, but when buying large ticket items, do the research, and think of where you want to be, so you don't have to buy again in three years..


    ------------------
    Dale Richards
    Dal-Col Apiaries
    Drums, PA

  14. #14

    Big Grin

    I think it *can be* a VERY expensive hobby...if you want it to be. It doesn't have to be.

    This has been mentioned previously. And the main reason Top Bar Hives (TBH) were "invented" in Africa - they generally ain't got the money to buy all that expensive Langstroth-type American equipment (not to mention all the "supporting" equipment it takes to sustain even a hobbiest, like extractors, electric knives, capping tanks, etc., etc.).

    Beekeeping on a hobbiest level can be done for VERY cheap. In trying to see just how cheap it could be, I built my first TBH hive this past year. I spent less than $20 in building, in effect, a 30-frame brood-sized hive. And even this could have been cut in half if I hadn't "splurged" on the top cover and tie-downs for it. For instance, I bought "returned" paint from a hardware store and painted my whole hive for $1. All the wood was free (including the wood for the top bars) - most was gleaned from scraps at home construction sites.
    TBHs tend to lend themselves to gathering cut comb style honey but if you want, you certainly can press the comb and get liquid honey if desired. So as a hobby, you can go the dirt cheap route if you desire and have just as much fun as someone who has spent a small fortune.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
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    Hello Everyone,

    All a beekeeper really needs is a good veil, a hive tool and a smoker. Armed with a little top bar hive knowledge and a sense of adventure a beekeeper a get alot of beekeeping for very little money.

    After harvasting my tbh crop and extracting my honey from my small cell hives with a 2 frame extractor, I would choose the tbh anytime and would freely recommend it to all hobbyists.

    It's not a backward way to keep bees. You will learn more about your bees, how to work them and work them more pleasantly than with standard equipment.

    If a person decides not to keep bees, a tbh makes a good planter :> )

    Regards
    Dennis

  16. #16
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    May 2003
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    michigan
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    If I was looking for inexpensive equipment I would probably keep an eye out for local used stuff. Get to know the locals. For example, I have been on a culling spree and have given away about 100 deeps and 100 mediums this summer.....not great stuff but salvageable.

    Also, if you get to know some of those folks you might be able buy new stuff with them which usually comes with quantity discounts and cheaper trucking.


  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
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    Hotlanta, GA
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    Now I just have to sit and wait for a big Georgia beekeeper to retire

    Sounds like a great idea, Coyote. Allow me to offer Atlanta as the hub for deliveries

    [This message has been edited by Branman (edited August 27, 2003).]

  18. #18
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    Jun 2003
    Location
    Grifton, NC
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    Wink

    I'd hate to hear what you'd say if you had horses as a hobby. You have the horse(s), the trailer, the barn, power bills, fuel bills, feed and hay plus hauling it, farrier bills, tack, vet bills, horsey-set clothes, the labor(you have to clean stalls every day and spread manure) Bees by comparison are cheap and easy-keepers.

  19. #19
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    Aug 2002
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    Casper, Wy, USA
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    Greetings,

    I had a friend who told me, "Never own anything that eats while you sleep" :> )

    Regards
    Dennis

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
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    I have kept bees as a hobby and sideline business for over 33 years. I feel that honey sales have more than covered most of my direct expenses. I am not including truck and real estate expenses which I cover with my contracting business. I also got all of my extracting equipment for almost free from persons who got into beekeeping in too big and fast a manner and quickly dropped out. With prudent purchasing, one can easily break even. Few other "hobbies" produce an income product.

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