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  1. #41
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    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    Quote Originally Posted by taxonomy View Post
    We're starting to make some money keeping bees.

    ... We're not going to quit our regular jobs, we just want to turn a few extra thousand dollars per year.

    ... We run the business like a real business. We keep track of expenses and time. We claim a Schedule F on taxes.
    A real business? I think what you are saying is you are legal with the IRS.

    The questions are what were your losses to date? Could you justify going into business if you did not have another job supporting the bee business? Will it ever be self supporting turning enough profit that you can live on without other jobs to support you?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  2. #42
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    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    10,137

    Default Re: Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    The flow of funny honey will not subside if it is supplying Nabisco and Kellogg so they can put the word Honey on their cereal.
    Why would you think it would?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  3. #43
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Clinton, Michigan, USA
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    6

    Default Re: Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    Hi folks. I've started to reply to this thread twice before but always been logged out before I finished. I don't have anything earthshattering to provide but as a former commercial beekeeper I could write volumes on this subject and overwhelm the pages here. I'll try to write a couple of short responses as time permits in the next day or so in case it is helpful to others thinking about beekeeping as more than just a hobby.

    First, note the keyword---"former". I enjoy keeping bees and working outside has a number of merits. However, it truly requires an enormous invest in time to be a commercial beekeeper. You can easily find yourself working 12-16 hours a day or more, 7 days a week for months on end. I didn't stop keeping bees because of pure financial reasons but rather to work in the field for which I went to school as it provides a more balanced life. I average 32 hours of work a week and have tons of vacation so I get paid 40 hours and have excellent retirement and medical insurance. In the last 6 months I have only worked 5 days in a row maybe 3 weeks total. I actually make a little less per year in my current job but I have much more time to spend my money on things I like versus worrying about bees.

    If beekeeping becomes your livelihood remember it is essentially a small business that takes your total dedication. You need to ask yourself whether that is something you are prepared for. But even more so, beekeeping is agriculture. Agriculture is driven by the weather over which you have no control and huge international market forces. When you are a small beekeeper, you might have a niche honey market but the overall honey market is a world affair driven by the weather which dictates world supply. Of course demand plays a role but there havent been huge jumps in demand and the national honey board hasn't been any overwhelming success.

    I'll try to talk about honey sales next time

  4. #44
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    9,647

    Default Re: Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlackBirds View Post
    Hi folks. I've started to reply to this thread twice before but always been logged out before I finished.
    Let me just inject this comment for everyone's sake. To avoid this from happening, make sure you check the box "Remember Me?" next to your User Name and Password when logging in.
    Regards, Barry

  5. #45
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Northampton, MA
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    196

    Default Re: Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    The market, as I see it, is tiered. You can make some amount locally, in my case, it would be around $12,000 at the top of the market selling in high end grocery at the wholesale level.

    When I say we're a real business I mean we track expenses, we claim income or loss, I run the business according to generally accepted accounting principals.

    At this point we have not paid off our initial investment, but we showed good cash flow, we have good relations with vendors, we experienced strong market demand. Everything is in the right place.

    If we tried to make twice as much money we would have to work 10x as hard because we're just in it at the top of the market. I am not interested in competing with bulk honey in normal food stores. I am not interested in wholesale to packers or anything like that. I am invested in making some useful amount of money from work that I love.

    If I were not working bees my hourly rate would be something like $25/hr. So I consider that. I am not going to invest in beekeeping areas that pay less than that.

    No, we couldn't quit our jobs since we cannot live on $12,000 per year. But we can work somewhat less and live as we like to.

  6. #46
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    28,274

    Default Re: Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    Then you are in Business. Which anyone should be able to recognize.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  7. #47
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    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlackBirds View Post
    But even more so, beekeeping is agriculture. Agriculture is driven by the weather over which you have no control and huge international market forces. When you are a small beekeeper, you might have a niche honey market but the overall honey market is a world affair driven by the weather which dictates world supply. Of course demand plays a role but there havent been huge jumps in demand and the national honey board hasn't been any overwhelming success.

    I'll try to talk about honey sales next time
    Welcome BigBlackBirds.

    A commercial guy saying demand has not increased and one saying it is skyrocketed. Welcome to beekeeping opinions...
    I don't know why you made the decision to get out but I think your post is a statement of reality.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  8. #48
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    brownwood, TX, USA
    Posts
    862

    Default Re: Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    Here's my qualifier: I am a 72 year old petroleum engineer that still works as a consultant some 75 to 100 days per year. I still earn a lot of money. Actually I consider myself a naturalists, and the bees are a feel good thing to me. I have three hives of bees that arrived this past April. I have been reading this forum since that approximate time. Now, my opinion:

    The bee industry is a viable entity. There are several large bee operations that provide a good living (somewhere north of six figures) for their owners. There are several suppliers (Mann Lakes come to mind) that earn profits and hire employees. There are consultants, some of them entomologists, that make their livelihood from the bee keepers. In summary, its a real industry with business opportunities.

    But, when I read of people losing bees to so many diseases and chemical poisoning, it brings to mind that bee keeping has many, maybe more, pitfalls than other businesses. Like all agricultural ventures there are a log of "wannabees." So many people love the great out doors and nature, that there will always be wannabees. I'm one of them. I plan on giving my honey to friends and charitable organizations, if my bees ever produce said honey. (You can't believe our West Texas drought) I probably am an exception, but the part time operators that earn extra cash will always be willing to sell for less, since they are not dependent on their bee operation.

    I think bee business produces a poor rate of return on the time invested. Even the successful bee keepers could easily make more money in another field if with the same investment in time.

    All of the above being said, I love bees and I believe I am going to love the people that rear them. Good luck, and as we say in the oil patch "keep a bind on it."

  9. #49
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    Jun 2010
    Location
    Fergus Falls,MN,USA
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    6

    Default Re: Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    How large of an operation would one need to begin selling to the honey packers?

  10. #50
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    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    Quote Originally Posted by lazy shooter View Post
    I think bee business produces a poor rate of return on the time invested. Even the successful bee keepers could easily make more money in another field if with the same investment in time.
    You could look into a Fast Food Franchise, Real Estate, Construction, Manufacturing, Engineering or any other business, and see that the initial time invested to the point where you can set back and let everyone else do the work is endless. I see no difference there. What I do see in the bee business is it is easier to be in the business as a fly by night supporting a hobby. You can't do that with most other type businesses.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  11. #51
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    Aug 2006
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    Danbury, CT
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    2,887

    Default Re: Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    Quote Originally Posted by taxonomy View Post
    The market, as I see it, is tiered. You can make some amount locally, in my case, it would be around $12,000 at the top of the market selling in high end grocery at the wholesale level.
    Now if you could figure out how to create demand among college aged girls, you would have a gold mine

    Quote Originally Posted by lazy shooter View Post
    The bee industry is a viable entity. There are several large bee operations that provide a good living (somewhere north of six figures) for their owner There are several suppliers (Mann Lakes come to mind) that earn profits and hire employees. There are consultants, some of them entomologists, that make their livelihood from the bee keepers. In summary, its a real industry with business opportunities.
    Equipment supply really shouldn't be part of the discussion because they are not making any money beekeeping. Usually they started in beekeeping, but then got smart. i.e. Charles Dadant.

    I believe Mendes is the largest bee operation in the country and even he holds a second job.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  12. #52
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    Mar 2011
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    Default Re: Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrass View Post
    I believe Mendes is the largest bee operation in the country and even he holds a second job.
    Are you kidding? There are no full time beekeepers employing 100's of people on a regular basis. I thought there would be 5 or 6 just doing bees not selling equipment. I wouldn't doubt that most of the equipment is made off shore or soon will be.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  13. #53
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    Jul 2008
    Location
    Newport, New Hampshire, USA
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    241

    Default Re: Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    plastic
    “We wage a war to save civilization itself”
    --George w. Bush November 8, 2001

  14. #54
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland, Bladen County, NC, USA
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    3,185

    Default Re: Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    Quote Originally Posted by olii2d View Post
    How large of an operation would one need to begin selling to the honey packers?
    Small artisan bottlers will buy reasonably small amounts. The smallest I remember selling at one time was about $1500. It takes about that much to make it worth their driving down to pick it up.

  15. #55
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    Jun 2003
    Location
    Lakeland FL
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    861

    Default Re: Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    Actually i think Addee's are the biggest operators with around 80,000 hives last i heard. Mendes is only around 7-10000. What is the second job that he has?
    Nick

  16. #56
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX, USA
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    1,789

    Default Re: Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    Starting and operating any small business is never as easy as working a straight job. Doesn't matter if it is electronics repair (I know of 2 shops, known these people 20 years), I run an aquatics business, I have set up websites for many small businesses in DFW before I went off into aquatics because I didn't want to "invest the time" to learn java. I hate programming languages...

    If you start a small business and expect it to be viable, you'd best be doing work you love and are emotionally committed to, because it is going to eat the rest of your life for lunch for at least the first 5 years. And seasonally, my poor little grandson with the fall birthday came to see me the week before, because in spring and fall, my business owns me. That's how I get those lovely vacation periods in the deep summer and deep winter. I've been in business 12 years. Scheduled dinner times don't fly, I work til the job is done, or dark, and often the job is done after dark.

    Beekeeping is perhaps more vulnerable to the weather and environmental factors than fishkeeping, but not by much. So I am used to the ups and downs. But I can promise, I'm spoiled. I will never spend all day sitting at the farmer's market to sell 2 jars of honey. No matter how many hives I end up with. In my field, I average about 25 an hour if I include drive time in hours. And that is my line, if I'm not doing it for fun, that's what I expect to earn. Right now I'm beekeeping for fun.

    Gypsi
    Stuck in Texas. Learning Permaculture in drought, guess I will teach permaculture in drought. The bees are still alive.

  17. #57
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    Aug 2006
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    Danbury, CT
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    2,887

    Default Re: Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    Quote Originally Posted by swarm_trapper View Post
    Mendes is only around 7-10000. What is the second job that he has?
    Nick
    He owns and operates a trucking company, he has a third job if you count his CEO position at ABF. If you ever heard him speak he always manages to mention that he is the last of the line, his son will not make a living with bees, that it can't be done now days.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  18. #58
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Louisville Kentucky USA
    Posts
    458

    Default Re: Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    Since I live right across the river from Jean-Yves I can kind of see where he is trying to go with the bee business and I think it might be a pretty tough way to make a living, but he is starting to do nucs and queens and I think he could do alright selling those around here. I know I could send some people his way. I have around 30 hives and this is purely a hobby for me ( I have a job).The problem here is that there are about 20 other people in this city that want to make a living from bees too. There are 28 local farmers markets and on any given day there will be 2 or more guys selling honey at each one which just drives the price down.I have a set price on my honey and I dont do farmers markets or wholesale it, I just sell it to whoever happens by and wants some.I dont even have a sign at my house. I always tell people that ask me about making money that " I dont know how many hives you would have to have to be profitable but its certainly more than I can take care of "
    Around her when people call about cut-outs the first thing they always say is " You dont charge for this do you " so that pretty much sums up how much you can make doing that.
    If I could get people to pay me a dollar an hour to answer questions about bees I would probably be a millionaire. Its a fun hobby and I think I will leave it at that.

  19. #59
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Lovell, WY, USA
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    223

    Default Re: Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    There is a very profitable family owned business in my area that makes most of their money from selling honey candy- taffy and chocolates sweetened with honey. They do sell their honey, pollen etc as well buty the biggest part of the business is candy. THey sell in stores all over the area- I have seen their products in stores up to 150 miles away. I believe they also get mail orders from across the nation and even e=internationally. Queen Bee Gardens is the name of the operation.

  20. #60
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    Mar 2009
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
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    2,308

    Default Re: Where's the $ in beekeeping?

    Quote Originally Posted by taxonomy View Post
    ...
    If I ever get to the point that my retailers cannot handle all my production I may start doing some retail, but I would sooner hire an attractive young woman to attend the farmers markets before I went to them myself.
    We'd rather you hire an attractive young woman too!
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

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