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  1. #1
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    Default How much money can a beekeeper make in a year owning 100 hives?

    How much money do beekeepers make a year? How many hives would it take to make 100 grand? My stepfather is a hobbyist beekeeper and I'm thinking about starting up my own business. Any thoughts? Thanks,
    Michael

  2. #2
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    Jul 2007
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    San Diego, CA, USA
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    Default How much money?

    I get the feeling from talking to professionals that in a really good year they break even. :confused:
    http://bees-on-the-net.com/bs
    Bees give me a buzz!

  3. #3
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    Jul 2006
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    Southern Ohio
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    Default

    You can make a lot of money, but you will probably spend all you make and a little more

  4. #4
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    Apr 2004
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    Wheatfield, IN
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by shawnwri View Post
    You can make a lot of money, but you will probably spend all you make and a little more
    As swarm trapper said on here once (or something similar).... There's alot of money in beekeeping. I'm still trying to figure out how to get it back out!
    Dan Williamson
    B&C Honey Farm http://www.flickr.com/photos/9848229@N05/

  5. #5
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    Oct 2003
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    Jenison, MI
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    1,514

    Default

    The money is in the marketing and products. Beekeeping is a type of farming and the weather plays too much role to consistently predict anything.

    But if you are average, the average in MI is 80lbs/hive per year. So say you get 8000lbs of honey. If you sell that wholesale you just made $8000 and are now way behind. If you sell at market price you will get say $3/lb and $24,000. If you can convince people you have the best gourmet honey available you can get $5 or $6/lb and a lot higher.

    Then there is the wax products (cosmetics) that people might buy. And the flavored honey and the spun honey and the flavored spun honey and the honey sticks and..and..

    And then there is the making and selling queen and nucs ....

    And pollination....

    And it is all a LOT of work to make it all work. I prefer to sit back and enjoy the bees, not do all that work.

    There are a lot of possibilities, but most of them need a good business model and marketing plan for them to work. If you are like me and not a business oriented person, then you probably won't make much money.

  6. #6
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    May 2008
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    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
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    Scadsofbees is pretty much right on. It's not a simple task. Like farming there are good years and bad years....bigger doesn't mean you will make more because your costs go up. And depending on where in the country you live will have much to do as to where you can gain the most from the different bee "products" thats scads talked about.

    I think everyone will advise you to start small...real small and work up. You will find at what level you can work things to come in at least even. If you are losing constantly...try corn.

  7. #7
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    Dec 2005
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    Cleveland, Texas
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    Default

    I have just hit that 100 mark this year. I started about 5 years ago, and I can say that if it were not for the income I receive from removals and swarm capture, I would definately be in the red (I happen to be in a unique position, as I have two sons who are full time students, but are available during most of the busy season to do removals during the week for me while I continue to work a full time day job). As for actual income from 100 hives, I won't have any reliable history for a couple of years so unfortunatley I am of little help in answering your question.
    "The UNKNOWN, huh? That would be SNORBERT ZANGOX over in Waycross."

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeyReej View Post
    How much money do beekeepers make a year? How many hives would it take to make 100 grand? My stepfather is a hobbyist beekeeper and I'm thinking about starting up my own business. Any thoughts? Thanks,
    Michael
    Michael,

    I'm sure that someone can answer your question. There are alot of "experts" out there.

    I took in $90,000.00 during the years that I had around 800 colonies and the nectar flows were good and the mites weren't too awfully bad. I also had 80 some thousand dollars in expenses. So you do the math.

    My advice to you is, if you want to try to make money at beekeeping you should only buy what you have the money in hand to spend. In other words don't do it on credit. You'll always be in debt.

    So grow slowly and reinvest your profit, if you find any. Then you'll be the one to answer this question in the future and you'll be able to tell us how you did it.

    Best of luck.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Oxford, Kansas
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    1,988

    Default

    If you are looking to make money In Beekeeping. You may try the Craps table. The odds are better the work is not as hot or hard. And if you are in the right place they comp you free liquor to help you lose.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Lima, Ohio, USA
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    721

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    Absolutely develop your own market and skip the sale to packers. You also need to think beyond just honey. Wax, pollen, propolis, pollination, swarm removal, nucs, queen rearing, other value added honey products, etc. Some of these can help even out the income when the honey crop is down.

    But there are good years and bad, and it's certainly far from the steady income of a regular job.

    -Tim

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    Kirkland, WA, USA
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    For me, what Tim mentioned is the key to success. Diversification.

    My bees make honey only twice in a year, and one of those times takes a lot of moving and gas. So if I stay and wait for the blackberries, afterwards they aren't going to bring in more honey. Well, some but not much. On the other hand, they will continue to bring in pollen, which I'm trapping. Pollen is worth more than honey in my local market, way more. They'll continue to collect propolis and I'll continue to save it. I'll cut out bees when they pay me to do so. I'll sell a frame of brood or nuc as the opportunity permits. I'll even do some (lightweight) pollination for a local farm. The wax can be made into candles. The honey, creamed, flavored and packaged. If I just wait on honey that's one payout once a year. It's the other things that give a trickle of income throughout the other months.

    I'm a comitted hobby beekeeper (meaning I should be committed, I guess) so for me there's no downside to a lost sale. Doesn't mean I don't enjoy the transition from season to season, product to product. There's more to the hive than honey.
    http://www.voiceofthehive.com - Tales of Beekeeping and Honeybees

  12. #12
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    Dec 2006
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    St. Albans, Vermont
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeyReej View Post
    How many hives would it take to make 100 grand? Michael
    Over how many years?

  13. #13
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    Jun 2008
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    Sacramento,California,USA
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    Where are you going to keep the 100 hives? if kept on your own property, so you don't have to travel to manage the hives, you might just break even sometimes. If you add up the costs of Fuel, Vehicle registration and insurance, Medications and feed for the bees, costs of queen bees/packaged bees for failures if you don't raise your own queens, county registration fees, etc., it seems like a losing propostion to me! So, I choose to keep 8 to 12 hives here at the house just to give me something of interest to play around with.

  14. #14
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    Apr 2008
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    Starkville,Ms,USA
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    With 100 hives I would think you could make about $12,000 on average IF you do most of the work yourself and your equipment is paid for and you are able to sell all of your honey at retail prices.
    Last edited by Dr.Wax; 06-20-2008 at 07:24 PM. Reason: nb

  15. #15
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    Jun 2006
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    Randolph County, Indiana
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    Any business that doesn't profit will go under within a few years, if that. There has to be some money in it to stay in business. Most beekeepers like anyone else, just don't want to tell you what they make, because it's no one's business but their's and the IRS.

    I have twenty five hives. This year I should pull in more than $2000 just in honey production, not including comb honey, pollination, nucs, queens, and other hive products. My estimated cost for the year, less than $400. In other years, that could be as high as $600.

    There is profit to be made, you just have to find it. The problem comes when you lose a large portion of your hives to the winter.

    As others have said, you need more than just honey. Consider honey a product that will pay for your running costs and expansion. The real money is in nucs, queens, pollination, and other hive products. Next year I will spend all that profit on expansion, that is where the money goes, equipment.

    If you want to be a commercial beekeeper, learn to cut costs. Raise your own queens. Stop buying packages, and nucs after you have enough hives to fuel your own expansion. Buy used equipment (except for frames). Then learn to sell your own nucs and queens. The only queens that you should be ordering will go into your nucs. If you live in the north, learn to raise them the previous year and bank them for next year. Learn to overwinter nucs, and split like crazy, but not to much that they will not be able to survive.

    I've figured out that the key to success is marketing, time management, cutting costs, and being able to replace your loses without to much investment. If you are running a commercial operation with a cost of more than 50% of your cashflow, you need to rethink your business model. Lets brake it down:

    100 hives: Not including initial investment of equipment. That is assumed that the beekeeper will reinvest in expansion using the profits.

    If you are good at overwintering nucs to replace loses, at least 90% of your hives should produce. Since this is a small operation, I will assume only 10% for pollination survices, obviously, this could be much higher if the beekeeper is good at marketing. And not counting things like comb honey, or retail sales that most beekeepers do. Not including any other hive products, or nuc and queen sales. Assuming the beekeeper raises his/her own queens.

    90 x 80 = 7200lbs of honey = $8640 (1.20 per lb wholesale in my area)
    10 hives for pollination 40 x 10 = $400
    Total = $9040

    Costs:
    Gas = about $1000 (trying to overestimate this, if the beekeeper is responsible with keeping fuel costs at a min)

    Mite treatment = 3.00 per hive, $300

    Any other treatments = average of 3.00 per hive, $300. Don't use treatments indiscriminately, this only raises your costs and makes deases more immune to the treatments.

    Assuming any misc, and additionial costs at $1000.00 (foundation, replacement frames, replacement boxes, etc) Remember, used equipment.

    If you have a larger operation and have to hire employees, add an additional $1000.00 per 100 hives for part time help. Hire high school students. If you have thousands and thousands of hives, you may have to hire a few full time employees. I know a beekeeper that handled 125 hives by himself until he was 86 years old.

    Total costs = $3600.00
    Total profit = $5440.00

    Marketing, cutting costs, time management, and replacing your loses without cutting into your production. Correct me if I missed anything.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Granby, CT
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    Larry Connor once said (he was quoting someone) "every one that makes $1000 in beekeeping, can make $2000 doing almost anything else".

    Gilman

  17. #17
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    Nov 2004
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    Kirkland, WA, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by IndianaHoney View Post
    Marketing, cutting costs, time management, and replacing your loses without cutting into your production. Correct me if I missed anything.
    Do not forget your yearly mugging by the IRS. Some of what you pay for is of use. Most is your congressmen and executive branch using you as toilet paper that just happens to pay taxes.
    http://www.voiceofthehive.com - Tales of Beekeeping and Honeybees

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Waterville, Ohio, USA
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    3

    Default Thanks

    How realistic would it be for a beekeeper with about 3 years experience to handle 300-400 hives by himself full time. How many hours would this take?

  19. #19
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    Dec 2006
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    Amador County, Calif
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    Quote Originally Posted by bleta12 View Post
    Larry Connor once said (he was quoting someone) "every one that makes $1000 in beekeeping, can make $2000 doing almost anything else".

    Gilman
    B-12, very well said.

  20. #20
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    May 2008
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    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
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    Mikey,

    If you want to keep them healthy and moving to where they will be the most productive, Spring through Fall..all your time. Winter...your break time...extra time to chop wood and get to know your family again.

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