I am looking at getting into commercial beekeeping as a secondary source of income. Many long nights of research later and I feel like I have a grasp on the basics of beekeeping and have also found that people's reports on the profitability of beekeeping have been the most unpredictable information. After looking further into the beekeeping business it seems that a properly managed apiary can produce sustainable profits. I see that the most common form of profit loss comes from the loss of colonies, mainly due to weak hives. So my main focus at first will be on building strong hives that can over-winter without any problems, but I will also spend a significant amount of time focusing on other areas as well.
I have a few questions about commercial beekeeping and what to expect. All the research in the world cannot makeup for hands on experience and I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to hear from some experienced keepers on some obstacles I may encounter and how to overcome them. I will list my goals and the primary questions I have, but any information is greatly appreciated.
My 5 Year Goal:
- Secure an investment into the business that will cover all the costs of setting up 100 bee hives
- At the end of year two have 100 bee hives built, while putting as many to use as possible
- Take the summers to contract out hives to orchards, while also harvesting the honey and splitting the hives to sell bee packages thereafter
- Hire someone to help me maintain the beehives while I attend school
Here are some of the questions I have, but any advice is appreciated:
What is the most efficient and least costly way to attain bees for a starting beekeeper (Goal is 100 beehives)? I have three beehives right now that I will be able to split next summer, but this puts me short of my goal.
On average, how many locations are you able to take bee hives to each season for pollination services?
In a routine check, what is the average amount of time you spend checking one hive?
What are some methods you've used in strengthening colonies for over-wintering?
In order to produce the most honey, while also being able to move the beehives to orchards for pollination, what would you recommend as the best hive set up and hive management methods?
What can I expect the first couple years of keeping bees?
Any other advice is greatly appreciated