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Thread: Per Hive Income

  1. #1
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    Default Per Hive Income

    As commercial beekeepers, how much does each hive cost you to maintain? How much income per hive do you need to maintain each hive?

    I hope I'm asking this in the right way. It's an interesting idea to ponder. I wonder if very many of us has an idea of what the real answer is. I'm sure that it will be different for each individual operation. This is something that a friend of mine asked me the other day while we were taking his honey off. Things sure look different when you work w/ another beekeeper. Not to mention another geographical location.
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Per Hive Income

    Not sure I understand your question. Some times I don't spend anything to maintain a hive for a season...sometimes I spend as I re-queen, paint, change out comb, etc. Hopefully, you are not spending more to maintain then a hive can produce...lol...that would be a lot of maintenance IMHO. I think I have more in costs running the operation as opposed to maintaining a hive. Insurance, fuel, repairs, extracting, swingers, trailers, barrels, etc, etc. Thats where the majority of the expenses go...that and labor if you are big enough.
    Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid. John Wayne

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Per Hive Income

    Yeah, I knew I wasn't expressing myself clearly.

    Sometimes you don't spend anything to maintain a hive for a season? You don't move it or feed it or requeen it?

    How much do you earn on a per hive basis? Since your bees are what you use to produce an income, how much does each hive have to make you? Not tot get too much into anyone business. Just in general.
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Per Hive Income

    I also am not sure of the question. As Alpha said, the cost of equipment and labor is a factor. I suppose you would call syrup and patties a cost to maintain the colony but what about the trucking to ship them west or the forklift to load the truck? The costs to maintain the business vary each year, depending on what expenses we need to accrue and what expenditures we choose, based on that years projected income.
    In good years we spend more on upgrading equipment than in poorer ones. On good years we spend less time making the commercial nucs and packages. But when it comes down to it, all the "costs" better be an investment that pay for themselves with a more productive, efficient operation. At the end of the year if we owe taxes we did something right, lol.
    Sheri

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Per Hive Income

    One factor many don't take into consideration is loss of colonies. When you are running hundreds or thousands of colonies your losses can become a real factor. I hear newbees saying again and again, "Well, if I have 500 colonies and they each make $X amount of honey and $X in pollination I will average $XX amount of income." If they ended up with only 300 producing colonies that would sure skew their income projections. Keeping bees alive is one of the major expenses commercials have, both in labor and hard expenses like queens, feed, and treatments. The more colonies the more time becomes a factor, it takes time to get around to do "whatever" to all the beeyards and of course, they all need "whatever" yesterday.
    Sheri

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Per Hive Income

    You are right Sheri. A commercial beek close to here has had some problems with his bees and though he is running a good amount of colonies they are not building up and not producing...this is going on two years now. Lucky for him bees are not his only source of income otherwise he would be out of it. Just because you have 500 colonies doesn't mean you are going to get a certain yield and because they haven't build up correctly they are not making the grade for pollination...and smart on his part he isn't sending out anything he thinks won't make the grade. Along the topic of maintaining hives...he has spent much more then usual trying different treatments, new queens, etc. trying to nail down the problem. Hard sometimes to put a fixed number on it. I think you could get an average from a number of years that would be close if you factor out expanding the businesses and other related expenses.
    Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid. John Wayne

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Per Hive Income

    The question was pretty clear but it looks like is being avoided and thet is understandable when it comes to $$$.
    Do 100 families produce $40K?
    At what expense?

  8. #8

    Cool re:beekeeper spead sheet

    I start out every year from scratch, so this is somewhat easier for me.
    Load of HFCS is $11K
    Load of packages & Extra Queens $35K
    Truck, Fuel, Insurance $15K
    Extracting, and hired labor $24K
    Misc. Expanses $17K
    Total Expenses $102K
    Total Honey 48 ton @ $3300 a ton $158K:
    Yearly income $56K
    I made about $70 a hive. ONLY NEED ANOTHER 1000 hives this year. This was one of my best years. Keep that price of honey up.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Per Hive Income

    Andrei I don't believe the question is being avoided, similar questions are asked on a weekly basis on this forum and always meets with similar replies. It is difficult to determine in a commercial operation what you income per hive will be, as well as what your expense per hive will be. This in turn makes it almost impossible to determine what is "profitable" or how many hives you have to have to replace your day job. Add into the formula that there a many different facets of this business (pollination, queen production, nuc production, honey production, etc.) and geographical differences. Most commercial beeks have a multi-faceted approach because just selling honey in most cases is not profitable. What works and is profitable for Sherri and other commercial beeks might not work for myself or other commercial operations. An open ended question of how much profit per hive, and expense per hive is to hard to answer. Remember your not manufacturing 1 item with a fixed cost of production and a set retail price. As a commercial beek your managing 100-10000 individual colonies and each ones cost and production are different based on too many variables to list.
    Even with a small operation I buy and build what I need in quantity and in turn manage my hives with anything and everything I have on hand. I shell out lots of money on supplies and equipment this year that may not see use until next year and/or be "profitable" for years to come. You hang on by the seat of your pants, keep your bees healthy and productive and at the end of the year as Sherri added you hope you owe Uncle Same a few $$$.
    One peice of advice I have seen on this forum many times and I agree with is find some commercial guys in your area and talk to them, what works in California may not apply in Maine or Florida.
    And my own advice is if you want to be a commercial beek, get ready to work, there is a big difference in keeping 5-10 hives, and WORKING 100-10000 hives.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Per Hive Income

    Quote Originally Posted by AndreiRN View Post
    The question was pretty clear but it looks like is being avoided and thet is understandable when it comes to $$$.
    Do 100 families produce $40K?
    At what expense?
    What does that mean? Are you selling retail or whole sale? Are you doing pollination or just producing honey? What is the average yield per hive in honey in your area? I think what most of us are trying to say is that there are so many variables you can't pin down a number. YOU could though. Based on the average yield in your area you can calculate your costs. I will help you with this.

    Average yield per hive is 50 lbs.

    So...with 100 hives you produce 5000 lbs.

    For this you would need 200 deeps - $12 ea - $2400
    1800 deep frames $1 ea - (if starting new your corp will drop as the bees need to pull out the frames and build up slower) - $1800
    3 supers per hive $10 ea - $6000
    9 frames per super $1 - $5400
    Pallets for 100 hives is 25 @15 ea - $375
    Tops for 100 hives @$2 (if you make um yourself) - $200

    So just for the basic equipment for 100 hives it runs $16175

    Now add packages if you are starting out 100@$65 (and $65 is cheap) that's 6500

    Now assuming you already have a bee truck, have free access to a swinger, nets, dollies, and drip boards you are still going to need to extract the honey.

    Extractor - $1500
    Lets say you do it all by hand and just use an uncapping fork. A good one is about $35
    Buckets for 5000 lbs would be 100 at 50 lbs ea - 5 lbs bucket with lid $5 = $500

    Then you need to bottle the honey. Say you cold bottle so you don't need a bottler, you still need bottles. Lets say you get a screamer of a deal and get them at .50 ea and they hold one lb ea. That's $2500 in bottles. And for your label you just use a crayon instead of a real label...you borrow your kids at no charge.

    That comes to $4535

    So your expenses assuming you have standard equipment like mentioned above, bee truck, etc. for the first year if you do it cheap and with no misc. expenses to include feed, gas, etc. is $27210. This means that if you sell your honey at retail for $5 a lb you can make $25000. That's if you have the market to sell that much. Then don't forget if you are selling retail you need tables, displays, signs, etc, etc, etc.

    Like others pointed out though the biggest expenses are vehicles, buildings, repairs, fuel, and such and that is not included in this. Neither is paint, meds, feed, or any other misc expenses and there are some Each and every day. Oh...and that also assumes that all your queens were accepted and no problems with your bees during the year. (yeah that's likely) But just to cover the $27210 you hive would have to generate a little over $270 per hive just to break even.

    Hope this helps in figuring out. Oh last thing. Most of these expenses are incurred up front of the harvest....so better have something to live on during the year and money in the bank. I wouldn't take a loan out...but that's just me.
    Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid. John Wayne

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Per Hive Income

    Quote Originally Posted by AndreiRN View Post
    The question was pretty clear but it looks like is being avoided and thet is understandable when it comes to $$$.
    Do 100 families produce $40K?
    At what expense?
    I disagree. So far, anyway.
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Per Hive Income

    Quote Originally Posted by peacekeeperapiaries View Post
    And my own advice is if you want to be a commercial beek, get ready to work, there is a big difference in keeping 5-10 hives, and WORKING 100-10000 hives.
    Truer words were never said or written. The beekeepers that I call successful are the beekeepers who are willing to work as hard as their bees, and enjoy it.
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Per Hive Income

    http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/fin...ncosts1997.pdf

    Here is a link to MAFRI's web for cost of production. Yes it is 1997 numbers but you can update the numbers for 2009. It gives you an idea on how to break down your expenses and income.

    Good luck
    Was talking to a beekeeper. In his area his costs are about $100 a hive. For me about $80 a hive is average because my yards are closer together and not so much fuel. However, i have to add more costs this year due to the amount of queens i went through.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Per Hive Income

    [QUOTE=honeyshack;464467Good luck
    his costs are about $100 a hive. For me about $80 a hive is average .[/QUOTE]

    mine is $65.00
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Per Hive Income

    I would say that it would be a good idea to move to a honey producing region first off.

    500 hives x 110 lb average x $2.50 lb =$137,500

    operating costs= $17,000

    capital improvements= $20,000

    net income before taxes= $100,500

    Dec thru Feb in the Bahamas...... priceless

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Per Hive Income

    Quote Originally Posted by 123456 View Post
    Dec thru Feb in the Bahamas...... priceless
    Now that is a postive, optimistic attitude;but again I guess its a matter of perspective. Beings I am from Texas I would prefer a few days in the snow, a cabin up in the Mountains, a freshly killed bull elk hanging in the shed, with a roaring fire, snuggled up to a woman with laryngitis. Shhh, don't tell my wife about the last part.
    "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Nathan Hale, 1776

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Per Hive Income

    assumptions can be pretty local, yield is what YOU get on average. Lot of people start out and think it's a formula, unfortunately they don't realize the formula is:

    ( how good of bees you have - disease) times (how good you manage/ mistakes you make trying to learn) times your location times your local weather divided by your luck times how much you can sell it for ( how much you sell yourself divided by the world price for honey)= lbs per hive

    or something like that
    Last edited by wfarler; 09-24-2009 at 09:12 AM. Reason: fix

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Per Hive Income

    Quote Originally Posted by honeyshack View Post
    http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/fin...ncosts1997.pdf

    Here is a link to MAFRI's web for cost of production. Yes it is 1997 numbers but you can update the numbers for 2009. It gives you an idea on how to break down your expenses and income.
    The worksheet is a good exercise to go through, for any size operation, especially young folks keeping bees for 4-H or FFA. Given the values are in Canadian Currency, they're actually not too far off for 2009 US currency without any conversion or escalation figured in.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Per Hive Income

    Quote Originally Posted by DRUR View Post
    Now that is a postive, optimistic attitude;but again I guess its a matter of perspective. Beings I am from Texas I would prefer a few days in the snow, a cabin up in the Mountains, a freshly killed bull elk hanging in the shed, with a roaring fire, snuggled up to a woman with laryngitis. Shhh, don't tell my wife about the last part.
    Hey,
    Where did you get your dancing banana?

    Beekeeping isn't a job. It's a life style.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: beekeeper spead sheet

    how many colonies do you have?

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