Just a curious question for you commercial operators from a wannabe sideliner.
Percentage wise, where do you make your money.
% Income from Honey?
% Income from Selling Bees?
% Income from Pollenation Contracts?
Milk Cows Not Taxpayers
Re: Income Sources
Same as you , depends on the year , and it depends on the type of business you have. In Canada, on the prairies most hives are used to produce honey. So all those outfits depends entirely on honey production. Also in Alberta about 60 000 hives or 25% of them are used on canola pollination. Very very few guys sell bees on the prairies. I'm sure some do but it really only amounts to drops in the bucket.
We are on the coast and our situation is different. Pollination possibilities exist here. Basically if we have large winter losses near 100% of our revenue comes from pollination. A little from honey. Essentially we build our numbers up, wealening the average hive strength and cutting into honey production. We lose money in this type of situation. At the other end of the spectrum in great years we'll get half the income from bee sales, 30% from pollination and 20% from honey, roughly speaking. In this type of year we earn our money very well.
All beekeeping is local. So take advantage of the opportunities that exist in your area. For instance if I lived in California I would pollinate almondes and either sell packages or bulk bees. Any honey would bee a blessing. Other areas I would not try to run bees commercially. Either not enough honey production or not enough pollination opportunities. Some areas can hve early springs (Florida comes to mind) and packages, nucs can be sold from there.
Other tip, if no commercial guys exist in the area there is probably a very good reason. Best of luck.
Re: Income Sources
jean-marc is right, it is all about local opportunities.
Located in Central Wisconsin we have a decent protracted honey flow so our mix is about:
50% pollination (exclusively almonds)
10% selling bees (bleed off from almond bees)
We have gotten pretty good money for honey (historically speaking) the past few years, otherwise the spread between pollination and honey would be smaller, less for honey. If almond prices drop that percentage would go down etc. Bad wintering for bees the yield from almonds AND from bee sales go down.
Looking at that equation, if honey prices dropped, almond prices dropped and we had a bad winter kill, well, guess we would think seriously about retiring! before going bankrupt, I mean
PS I am using raw gross income here. Once the bees, boxes, swinger, honey house etc is accounted for, the almonds have the most expense attached annually. But if we didn't go to almonds we couldn't sell any bees. Gets complicated. It would take more time to actually figure out what percentage net income is coming from.