1. 2650 (at last count 3 weeks ago)
2. My father kept aobut 1000 until I graduated college. I just took piles of old equipment an started splitting.
3. Pollination provides the most income and the most profit. The honey is mostly what the bees do in their spare time.
4. We bought used junk while trying to grow. Since then we've been adding new to try and weed out some of the stuff that is in really bad shape. Our forklifts are all used and we have one new truck but as a general rule we buy those used as well.
5. Our operation seems to be based out of the cab of my truck, Dads truck, the occasional motel room, and an RV once and awhile. The bees spend most of their year in Georgia but we extract and make most of the decisions in Michigan. I live in Georgia and Dad lives in Michigan.
6. I always tell people to just buy a truck load after almonds. Once you have a semi load then you can take them south and double in the first year. Non tangables (pollination and sales) come almost on their own and aren't worth paying for. I get more calls a year for bees than what I can provide. I even get people calling and wanting nucs and packages and we haven't sold them in over 10 years.
7. I just send samples to the major bottlers, Dutch gold, Golden heritage, and Greob farms. I also sell quite a bit to smaller bottlers that buy one or two barrels.
8. Most of what it takes is a "just do it" attitude. Your never going to be rich as a beekeeper. It may be the closest thing to homeless you can get while still working. I've put $1,000 worth of fuel in one truck stop and not been able to afford a hotel room. If you love working with bees stay small. I rarely get to "have fun" with the bees them selves. I love the nomadic lifestyle and adventures that come with it. In one year I've watched the sun set over the rockies, and rise over an orange grove. I've seen the frost steaming off a field while the sun breaks the day over lake Huron. All while at "work".
I am holding on to the hope I have inside... Kutless