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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Venango/Crawford Pennsylvania
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    1,709

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by fat/beeman View Post
    I do teach a commercial course to students its a yr. long for 250.00 everything you need to go commercial I can give ref. on past students.
    Don
    might you have that on CD?

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Venango/Crawford Pennsylvania
    Posts
    1,709

    Default

    2 guys I know each have over 500. That seems to be the magic number. One had 550 right now and another has 800 Plus.

    Good luck!

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
    Posts
    3,361

    Big Grin

    "I have a full box of popcycle sticks, will sell them to ya for $3,500.00 "


    Tha't just way too much for Breyers sticks, I would consider it if they were hagen daz ! If you could hold them though I should be able to save that much in about 2 years! Do you take credit cards or postdated checks.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Belville, NC USA
    Posts
    45

    Default Thank you

    Thanks for all of your comments. I have gotten a lot of good information and been given a lot to think about.

    Jeff

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Cleveland, Texas
    Posts
    1,378

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by HarryVanderpool View Post
    Well then, here is another thought for those considering full time commercial beekeeping:
    Do you enjoy your own company?
    I went from people surrounding me all day in my previous job, to almost total isolation as a beekeeper.
    For me; I have always been about an 85% loner anyway, so I do O.K.
    But for the last 3 years, I have had the daily association with the 3 stooges: me, myself & I.
    You finish each day by loading the truck for the next day.
    You get up in the A.M. and head out to the bees BY YOURSELF and go to work.
    Thank heavens for radio! I listen to the radio all day long to keep company as I work.
    I'm not trying to be a downer. I love what I do.
    But I just want to bring up what I see that could be a surprise for those that want to go full time.
    Beekeeping is a job. It is a job that I love.
    And it is a hard job.
    It is not a "Get Rich Sceme", or utopia. Its a job.
    And as Tom Laury stated, "You got to love it".
    Otherwise forget the whole idea.
    Some of us have a distinct advantage in this area. I am blessed with four sons (ages 15 -24). Three of the four are ready and willing to help with the bees. The youngest does not like working directly with the bees so much, but really enjoys assembling woodenware and is quite good at it. My wife is also very much "into" the bees and helps with inspections, feeding, honey processing and etc. She even does cutouts/swarm capture with my sons while I am at work. With this willing and ready workforce, I feel I am in a pretty good position to go commercial. I am not there yet, but I have gone from less than 20 hives to near 100 in the last year. So far, my biggest impediment is going to be capital, as I refuse to go into debt for this endeavor. Not sure I can afford to sustain a schedule of quintupling my hives every year for the next 2 years (not to mention getting the weather and the bees to cooperate), so I will probably have to continue my day job a little longer.
    "The UNKNOWN, huh? That would be SNORBERT ZANGOX over in Waycross."

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Salem, Oregon
    Posts
    949

    Default

    Gene, you are blessed with a great beekeeping family!
    I hope that they all stay tuned in to the business. You should do well!
    As to the debt part; I have never borrowed a penny to build my operation.
    As a former director in a local manufacturing corp, I always scoffed when I heard the term, "bootstrap business".
    But the entire time, that was what I was building.
    For folks that have a good job and kids at home, they can slowly increase and get set up with equipment by reinvesting their income annually into expansion.
    It is different for someone that wants to make a sudden change in employment and does not mind debt.
    But if you can grow your operation along with your skills slowly and keep your day job until the kids are on their own two feet, and do so with NO DEBT, then you have a good start.
    Don't quit your job one second earlier than you need to.
    But above all, remember that in beekeeping, "The bees come first".
    If you are in the beekeeping business and you take the best care of your bees, every thing else will follow.
    It's like dairy farming; the cows need milked in the AM and PM.
    Everything else in life must revolve around that.
    If you start cutting corners or get lax with your bees, your operation may crumble.
    The bees come first, or sell them and punch a time card somewhere.
    My $.02
    I have exactly ONE hive more than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond question.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    cumberland, me
    Posts
    86

    Default

    I'm glad I found this thread. I am thinking along the same lines. I am a very beginner beekeeper but really enjoy it. Am just now thinking where I'd like to be in 4-5 years.

    [QUOTE]I think there is something to be said of "sidelining". Build to 100 hives and see what money can be made. Then ask yourself if you can do he same with 500.
    [QUOTE]

    This makes alot more sense to me. At least in the short term. I do the same type of thing with IT consulting. Desktops, servers, networks, and general support for 10 or so small businesses in the area. I always have a regular nite gig doing IT support that pays all the bills, insurance, retirement etc. My thought process is more along hte lines of...."If i could have 100 hives and make some $ doing nucs, pollinating, and retail or wholesale honey sales"....that might be more rewarding personally. I have one bee yard that is family land, a tractor that I could put a fork lift attachement on for carrying the girls around on pallets, etc. All I'd need is a flatbed truck and some higher capacity uncapping/extracting equipment right?

    Anyway, I'm going to keep reading...thanks!

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,973

    Default

    as gene's snip of harry comments suggest perhaps the most highly repeated personal characteristic of almost (I am trying to think of one exception here while I type this) every commercial bee keeper that I have know is they were blessed with a definite 'loner' type personality. to go down that road you certainly had better enjoy your own company.

    for myself in regards to wishing to go commercial... been there, done that. the reality is a bit more difficult than the dream and I quite like myself where I is, how I is.... and yes I most definitely qualify in the above mentioned profile.

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,016

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Brunswick Beeworks View Post
    I run a small apiary in middle Tennessee and have been bee keeping for five years. I am entertaining growing the business and ultimately going full time with the bees. In your experiences, what is the minimum number of hives you have to have to make a go of it. I have done the math based on my average harvest, potential pollination contracts, money from splits and wax products and have a fair idea but wanted to get your opinions and thoughts.


    Thanks for the help.

    Jeff
    At least you won't be unemployed.

    You'll need about 400 to start w/ and maybe more. Alot depends on your standard of living and how willing and able you are to put in the hours.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  10. #30

    Default

    Some things to also consider is

    Toilet paper in the truck for when nature calls and you are way out in a beeyard.

    keeping frozen water bottles for when you are overheating in a beesuit

    knowing how to run a bobcat and staight transmission on a truck so you do not dump a load of full honey supers.

    How to properly tie down a load so you do not lose it on the first stop sign on a hill.

    Know when to quit working a bee yard because it is going to rain in a hour and the bees are all over you. No amount of smoke fixes this.....

    there are so many things on the commercial side that most hobby or sideliners just do not know.

  11. #31
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,906

    Default

    >>Know when to quit working a bee yard because it is going to rain in a hour and the bees are all over you. No amount of smoke fixes this.....

    no, you dont ever learn that one,
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    FRASER VALLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA
    Posts
    1,326

    Default

    Well around these parts you'd better learn how to work bees in the rain or you won't get much work done. It rains a lot here and when it's not we might have a drizzle or some showers, hail ,snow, fog is kinda common too. We've been working bees since the middle of february and we've had less than 10 sunny days. Most of those were freezing cold to start with. It's not the best condition to be working bees but because of these efforts some colonies are looking mighty fine now. I think it's real important to be flexible in beekeeping so you can capitalize on opportunities. I think that's been my greatest strenght. I've tried lot's of different things that I may not repeat year to year. For instance this year honey prices are good so I'm going to sell bees. Normally those bees would be used for blueberry pollination but berry prices are down. Consequently growers are renting less bees. No use arguing, it's the way it is. Honey prices are good so I'll sell more bees this year than usual. It's an opportunity this year so I'll take advantage of it. Some years I've made Ross Rounds . I get a premium price pound for pound but it's a lot of fooling around. I won't make any this season, bulk honey prices are too good. To sum it all up, every season is different. It's important to have some flexibility and take advantage of opportunites as they arise.

    Jean-Marc

  13. #33
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,906

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    You operate a well run diversified beekeeping operation Jean Marc. By doing so it allows you to adjust and capitalize on changing markets.

    My operation runs a bit different. I am soley a honey producer. I am diversified well into other sectors of agriculture.
    My beekeeping focus is strictly on honey production. I take the good years and profit, I take the poor years and regroup. My main and only focus is to manage my hive in the best way to produce a big honey crop. Its the only way I can manage my honey farm while taking enough time to devote to my other areas of business interests.

    Time management is probably our biggest obsticle
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  14. #34
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    chilliwack, bc
    Posts
    637

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    I was once a fair weather beekeeper...until I started working for Jean-marc. Prior to to that I had worked with a beek that that ran 250 colonies while my father and I ran our 200. the I use to work for never worked the hives in the rain and wouldn't even crack a lid until mid march and since we were learning from him our practices were much the same. In early 2002, my mother passed away and my fathers heart wasn't in the bees anymore than what mine was at the time and we sold the bees (Jean-marc and other beek) but I kept back 12 hives. the beek I was working for lossed his wife and sold the bees too. So I was in limbo on what I wanted to do, maybe keep bees as a hobby and get a full time job.

    Then I met my wife to be in 2003 and she would have none of that and has been one of my biggest supporters on getting our bee operation off the ground. In February 16, 2004 was the first day of working bees for Jean-marc. I remember that day well as it was raining none stop as we digged through the hives giving frames of pollen, the next day was fairly the same and so on and so forth. through the course of my employment with JM I learnt to get use to being wet and cold, you could expect that from mid feb to the end of march you might have a total 10-15 days where it wouldn't rain. This was the difference among other things from running 200 hives to running 2000 hives.

    for anyone starting a operation from side line to wanting to go commercial, it helps to learn from those that have done this by working for those people and if your lucky they will share with you their beginnings and how they got to where they are today, Jean-marcs story is still quite inspiring to me to this day.
    Will Gruenwald Chilliwack BC

  15. #35
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    FRASER VALLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA
    Posts
    1,326

    Default

    Time management, yup that's a big one. The weather man is predicting 5 days of sunshine starting today. So it would sure be nice to have an extra 3-4 guys around here for the next 6 weeks. You know to make up nucs, requeen, move bees to pollination. Then we could scale backe the crew. Unfortunately the business can't afford it and good labour is hard to find.

    Ian, we need to diversify here and for sure on the prairies honey production is the only game in town, except perhaps pollination in southern Alta. Wishing you and others the big crop with these good honey prices.

    Jean-Marc

  16. #36
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,906

    Default

    boy this spring is getting off to a slow start!
    bees are still inside!
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  17. #37
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Tamworth, NSW Australia
    Posts
    259

    Default ............and what price for honey?

    With beekeeping set to explode and honey already in short supply, the real question is, "How much will the honey be worth when produced?"

    My tip is that there never has been a better time to hop into commercial honey production.

    The Honey Revolution is happening. Two hives on the White House lawn have just put up the flag!

    Cheers

  18. #38
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    2,497

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    boy this spring is getting off to a slow start!
    bees are still inside!
    Tell me about it...snowing here today and more to come tomorrow.
    Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid. John Wayne

  19. #39
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,906

    Default

    >>My tip is that there never has been a better time to hop into commercial honey production.

    I hear you John! Take when the taking is hot!

    When there is up side, there also comes down side.
    Getting in on the upside makes the down side hit harder.
    Best plan operations on below average prices and yeilds. Because the downside looms, and if it cant be managed accordingly, they your out of business!
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

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