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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Auburn, Washington, USA
    Posts
    302

    Default Why do people start/ leave beekeeping...

    Since I am considering starting a new hobby of beekeeping, I wanted to get some of the experienced beeks' feedback on why people leave beekeeping. I am doing this in hope of setting my course to avoid these pitfalls.

    Off the top of my head, some ideas for leaving.

    1. The equipment gets too heavy to handle.
    2. Cost benefit does not pan out.
    3. Honey crop is unpredictable or less than expected
    4. CCD
    5. Tired of spouse and neighbor complaints

    Ideas for starting:
    1. Honey
    2. Polination
    3. 2hr a week time comittment (great for people with kids and little time)
    4. Relatively low upkeep costs and most everything can be built (except for frames)
    5. Interesting hobby with interesting challenges, but can become successful after one or two years.

    More ideas are welcome.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,706

    Default Re: Why do people start/ leave beekeeping...

    Most people that I know that got out, did so because they had few hives to start with. They had one or two hives, and when mites or some disease got the better of one of them, they gave up. To them, buying hives were like buying pets, start with one and go from there. If the first goldfish you bought died, your less likely to get another one (because you would think it would just die anyway, why bother). The hardest part of riding a horse is getting back on after you fall off. The hardest part of being a hobby beekeeper is buying back in after your ladies die.

    As far as reasons to start, I don't know anyone who starts for the honey. Maybe it's just me. But most people around here think . . . "Honey cost $5 a lb at the store. So you want me to pay $150 for the hive, $125 for the bees, and $50 for the suit and all that? Then I have to put more time and money into it, and MAYBE i'll get honey? But I'm guaranteed to get stung? I'll pass."

    Most people that I know that start do it because:
    1. A relative did it in the past. They think it's a "family tradition."
    2. They stumbled on a hive. Either someone gave it to them, or whatnot.
    3. They want to do their part for the environment and "save the bees."
    4. The more they learn, the more they become interested in bees (that one's me).
    5. A friend keeps bees, and they talked them into it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    New London, Ohio
    Posts
    50

    Default Re: Why do people start/ leave beekeeping...

    Six years ago I didn't know what a beekeeper was. A man in my church had two hives of bees for his apple orchard and he told me one day that he didn't know what he was going to do because he became allergic to the bees.(I don't know if he really is allergic, but at the time that's what he told me.)

    I told him that if he could tell me what to do, I would try to get his honey for him. (Hey, pastors are supposed to be helpful, right...)

    Once I opened up the hive (desperately trying not to tremble or show fear,) I became so engrossed in the bees that I was hooked. I couldn't believe how gentle they were. I was amazed at what they did and what they were actually like.

    Honey is good and all, but it's those amazing creatures that fascinate me. I don't mind stings (much...) and the lessons the bees teach are priceless.

    --- marty ---

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Auburn, Washington, USA
    Posts
    302

    Default Re: Why do people start/ leave beekeeping...

    How interesting... I read that harvesting honey is what turns a lot of people away too. Does that resonate with people?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Tulsa OK. USA
    Posts
    846

    Default Re: Why do people start/ leave beekeeping...

    Why do people start beekeeping,
    It sounds like fun/always had an interest

    Just want to kick my garden up a notch

    Do my part to save the honeybee/planet

    Most end up loveing the ladies and want MORE

    Why do beekeepers stop

    Become alergic or for health reasons

    Just get tired of trying to keep it all going in the right direction(overwinter healthy bees,productive bee yards,outlets for honey,wax and bees)

    Family/life situation changes

    as far as equipment getting to heavy, maybe for a commercial operation but for a hobby, who says you have to harvest a supper as a box, harvest it one frame at a time/ take one capped frame out put in a frame of foundation or comb.

    the reasons for starting or stopping are dependant on the person and their wants/needs/and situation. Jim
    Stop and smell the flowers, 50,000 ladies can't be wrong
    Bsweetapiary@aol.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Bellingham, WA, USA
    Posts
    79

    Default Re: Why do people start/ leave beekeeping...

    Disclaimer: no hives yet - I'm EAGER to get going in the spring!

    I'm getting into it for the honey and for the love of bees. We go through A LOT of honey out our house, largely in the form of tea sweetener for the lady(s). We can burn through a pound per week pretty easily for just that. We also LOVE our mead, and I'm looking forward to making it from my own honey. Had been thinking about getting bees for a few years, and when a few friends let me check out their operations this summer I was hooked. Of course, I understand that I may not get a harvest at all the first year, but I'm willing to wait for the future rewards.

    I too have heard that people get into beekeeping for the bees, and get out for the honey. Can't image why

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Calvert, Md,USA
    Posts
    1,701

    Default Re: Why do people start/ leave beekeeping...

    My best recollection is, I became interested in bees when I was in Cub Scouts. There was a merit badge. I bought the book and after reading it,,I wanted bees.(wish I could find it) Never perused it till I got into college. Took an Apiculture class. Got bees,,,got allergic, got rid of bees, got a friend, friend wanted bees, got back into bees,got epi pen,,,,,,,,,,Bees fascinate me. I don't really like honey. It's ok, I taste it,,,that's all. My friend got into it because it interested him. He wanted to try it. First three years,,,cool,,,,,,we did well. Then,,,,SHB,,,not bad,,just there. Mites and treatment,,,expense,,,winter losses,,,,queen problems,,,,,Having said that,,,his personality is not conducive to long term beekeeping. He put his all into the bees,,,too many disappointments, the rewards were not enough for him. He gave his half of the hobby to me. I suspect many go the route of my friend.
    Hope you get something from this

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
    56

    Default Re: Why do people start/ leave beekeeping...

    I officially started beekeeping this year. I did do a lot of research before I got my bees. Then I jumped in with both feet. I got the gear and then I went and caught my own swarms and got one cut out with the help of another beekeeper. The cut out and a swarm that was the only good sized one I got survived. I wanted to do beekeeping for the pollination of my garden. Then as I learned more about them I became amazed with them. I also saw a challenge. I read about keeping bees without treatments. I wanted to create a business that was economically viable without having to purchase chemicals to keep bees alive. Both colonies that I have are doing great and they did well through a short dearth caused by high temperatures. As soon as I get more room to place more colonies I'll get more hives and build up.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
    Posts
    6,453

    Default Re: Why do people start/ leave beekeeping...

    Reasons for success . . .
    Started from organized training program - BSA Beekeeping merit badge
    have mentor for first year (great source of extractor too)
    do not buy anything mentor does not recommend and demonstrate
    2 or more hives to swap frames if something goes really wrong
    continued bee education with Master Beekeeping Program and teaching mentoring others
    do not give much worth to wives tales and opinions
    never start for the money
    never spend more than you can walk away from happy

    Reasons for failure . . .
    read books and jump in head first without a mentor, local club or formal training
    single hive with nothing to fall back on but more $ out of pocket
    know it all already
    in it for self, not sharing beekeeping for the fun of it
    take everything for granted as truth
    make a fortune!
    spend money to make money!
    blame failures on the last president or somebody or something besides me!
    use every magic pill (chemical) I can buy from suppliers or wherever

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Dexter, Maine
    Posts
    1,037

    Default Re: Why do people start/ leave beekeeping...

    Quote Originally Posted by AramF View Post
    How interesting... I read that harvesting honey is what turns a lot of people away too. Does that resonate with people?
    Wait, let me guess you read The Backyard Beekeeper. I think it's pretty stupid to write a book and tell people the best way to not make honey. The pretense of the book is that making honey is bad.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Concrete, WA, USA
    Posts
    761

    Default Re: Why do people start/ leave beekeeping...

    I started keeping bees ...... well it was a life style change that got me - i used to party every weekend - get drunks and forget where i left the car!!!! one time got soo drunk i dont know how i got to Bellingham !!! but thats besides the point - anyhow i got drunk one night - got sucker punched and broke my left side of my face into 27 pieces -- and Harborview put me back together -
    i woke up from sugury and told my Girlfriend that when i get better i wanted to keep bees and make people happy with an honest product

    3 years later -- here i am alive and selling honey everyday

    i had a lot of times where bees died and i should have tossed the towel in but i just got more bees and tried it again - now im doing great

    i HOPE i never have to give it up -

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Alexandria, VA
    Posts
    370

    Default Re: Why do people start/ leave beekeeping...

    Lol... I read the same book. Fortunately I read Beekeeping for Dummies first so BYBK didn't make my first impressions. Don't think I'll EVER have an issue with harvesting too much honey for me to handle!

    For me, stealing from Specialkayme's list:

    4. The more they learn, the more they become interested in bees (that one's me too--I theoretically always wanted to learn how for the honey, but it was watching a beedance on YouTube that made me go out and do it. I watched the beedance.... then googled it and learned the basic theory, then wandered by Barnes&Noble for Beeking for Dummies, then 3 days later I was like "Want bees. Now!" Fortunately it was June and I was able to snag a nuc, but missed the nectar flow).

    --I LOVE honey. Its not why I started, but it sure is a motivator!

    3. They want to do their part for the environment and "save the bees."

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Knox County, Ohio
    Posts
    2,694

    Default Re: Why do people start/ leave beekeeping...

    I know people who started into beekeeping because they found a swarm. That was all it took to get them hooked.

    My neighbor used to keep 25 or 30 hives. He got out of it 20 years ago when his hives all died from the mites. He has retired from farming now and seeing my hives got the itch going again for him and he got some bees last year.

    Don't think I'll EVER have an issue with harvesting too much honey for me to handle!

    Wait until you get a couple 5 gallon buckets from each hive, and the next thing you know you have 20 or 30 buckets in your garage. You're running out of room to put the buckets, and you still have more hives that need extracted.

    As you start growing your market, you can get rid of honey regularly and it doesn't pile up so bad. (hopefully)

    This is one of the growing pains I've discovered. The bottling and storage requirements can add up even while a hobbyist.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Alexandria, VA
    Posts
    370

    Default Re: Why do people start/ leave beekeeping...

    "Wait until you get a couple 5 gallon buckets from each hive, and the next thing you know you have 20 or 30 buckets in your garage. You're running out of room to put the buckets, and you still have more hives that need extracted."

    ...pure happy


    ...also, I need to move to Ohio. The state average per hive for VA (I think the stats were for surplus) is like 20-50 lbs. (At least it was in 2000... http://outdoorplace.org/beekeeping/honey1.htm)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Greensburg, Ky.
    Posts
    1,148

    Default Re: Why do people start/ leave beekeeping...

    When i heard about the decline in the honey bee population i wanted to do my part. The more i read about it and done alot of research, thats when i was interested. I started to build my hives in Feb and had my equipment all ready for my 2 bee packages that i installed april 24th. I had built an extra hive (OTBH) just in case i needed it, then on may 6th i captured a feral bee swarm and installed them in my observation top bar hive. So far i have learned alot and there isnt a day that goes by that there is always something new that i didnt know about and thats what keeps me interested. The other week my son and i extracted 70 lbs of honey, we used a 2 frame hand crank and went through 2 medium supers. That was a sample of what kind of work it actually takes to be a beekeeper. The only thing i get discouraged over is the high costs at "all" the bee supply stores. Even the bottle and labels that it takes at the end once you do finally harvest some honey cause your already thinking of how much you have already invested up to the present time and now your spending alot more. Thats when you wonder if the hobbie is really worth it. I would like to find other sources to purchase bottles other then a bee supply store. Im sure it would be alot cheaper, specially the S&H charges anymore. But once i go visit the bees all that isnt even in my head during that moment of time!!....hahahaha

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Billerica, MA
    Posts
    298

    Default Re: Why do people start/ leave beekeeping...

    About two years ago I found a book my mom gave me as a young boy; The ABC & XYZ...signed, "To my son, the busiest bee I know. Love Mom, 1977". I was terribly interested in bees thirty years ago, but finally got around to getting my own this year. My library is a lot larger than the one book today, I have two hives and an outyard with two more planned for spring '11, my shed is rapidly running out of room for boxes and assorted equipment. I got no honey this year as my nucs came late, but the education I've had over the last three months has been priceless. I'm in the school of the pure amazement of having bees, and how they create such an admirable society that we study with a huge amount of interest. Will I ever get out of it? Maybe, but for now there's so much to learn, and no chance of ever learning it all, that I can't predict when that could happen.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Knox County, Ohio
    Posts
    2,694

    Default Re: Why do people start/ leave beekeeping...

    ...also, I need to move to Ohio. The state average per hive for VA (I think the stats were for surplus) is like 20-50 lbs.

    According to the USDA, in 2008, the average in Ohio was 53 pounds. Virginia's average was 42 pounds. In 2009, 50 and 39 pounds respectively. http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda...02-26-2010.pdf

    While location does play a factor, I'm a firm believer that management is extremely important. Keep in mind that there are a lot of mismanaged hives bringing the state average down. Aspire to have the above average well managed hives.

    If you move to Ohio, I hope you do it for reasons other than honey production. There are states with a lot better honey yields. (But we do have room for more sensible people in Ohio - we already have enough idiots. We don't need any more of them.)

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Alexandria, VA
    Posts
    370

    Default Re: Why do people start/ leave beekeeping...

    "Ohio - we already have enough idiots. We don't need any more of them."

    Ya sayin' somthin, Mister??



    Okay, so you bring up a good point. Care to meet me on my new thread, so I don't hijack ANOTHER post? (Managing hives for honey--common sense and beyond....)

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Knox County, Ohio
    Posts
    2,694

    Default Re: Why do people start/ leave beekeeping...

    We're right next door to West Virginia. I'm right where Amish meets Kenyon College. (recently voted most beautiful campus in the world, and at one time 3rd most expensive university in US).

    Enough said.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Outagamie County, Wisconsin USA
    Posts
    835

    Default Re: Why do people start/ leave beekeeping...

    Reason some people have for starting bees:

    1. Health benefits of eating/using bee hive products such as raw honey (vs. white sugar), pollen, propolis, royal jelly
    2. Raise their own bees for their apitherapy as it is much cheaper
    3. Want to harvest beeswax for candles, etc. as it is the best wax in the world!!
    4. Want to help bee populations in their corner of the world
    5. Passing of the torch from an older family member
    6. Because nature facinates you


    Mid-life crisis?? LOL

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