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  1. #1
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    Default My Sideline Small Cell Business Plan

    This is how I plan to build my sideline SC business.

    Please feel free to question, criticize, or offer advice anywhere you like.

    First last year,

    2011 Summary:

    $10,465 gross revenue about $5,000 net (after equipment, gas, misc., & wife tax)
    $9,110 from removals (14)
    $475 from swarm captures (13)
    $375 from bee sales (3)
    $505 from farmed out removals (removals sold by me but done by thers)

    16 Hives going into winter

    Next Years goals:

    $15,000 gross revenues - $7,500 net
    $12,000 from removals (20)
    $750 from swarm captures (20)
    $1,500 from bee sales (10)
    $750.00 from honey sales (250 Lbs.)

    End the year with around 40 hives and 20 nucs

    Long Term Goals:

    Build up to about 400 500 colonies over the next 10 years till retirement

    Our basic overall plan is to use the revenue and bees from removals and feral swarm captures to build our small sideline business over the next 10 years till we retire from our regular jobs.

    All our hives are foundationless 8 frame mediums. Our goal is to be treatment free, but we will treat if necessary. Any hives treated will have the queen replaced as soon as possible.

    Management Changes from last year:

    Have 40 new hives and accessories ready to go by April 1st. (I make all my own equipment and last year I was caught completely by surprise and struggled to keep up with all the bees coming in from removals and swarms.)

    This winter I will prospect more for removals and swarms so I can cheery pick the higher paying jobs better. Farm out or trading the cheap removals to others.

    Dont pass on any swarm calls before June 1st (primary swarms really take off fast).

    Sell all swarms caught that miss our spring flow, or set them up to overwinter as nucs to cut down on winter feeding.

    Boxes
    1st box will always be foundationless frames. (bees seldom abscond from foundationless and generally draw the 1st box of frames straight)
    2nd box will be PF 100s in order to have straighter drawn combs for laddering up latter.
    3rd and additional boxes, will be foundationless frames interspersed with laddered up straight comb from lower boxes.

    Raise and bank about a dozen queens in May.

    Last year most of the queens from cut outs were super-seeded within 2 months. Used Michael Bushs panacea technique to allow the hives to raise a new queen but invariably lost 5 weeks of egg laying, which really set the hives back. This year I plan to either introduce a new queen if I have one at day 10 if eggs are absent, or start the panacea technique at day 3 if I don't.

    Input from you commercial guys would really be appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Don

  2. #2
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    Default Re: My Sideline Small Cell Business Plan

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    Long Term Goals:

    Build up to about 400 500 colonies over the next 10 years till retirement

    Thanks,

    Don

    Do you want to WORK this hard on retirement


    BEE HAPPY Jim 134

  3. #3
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    Default Re: My Sideline Small Cell Business Plan

    A man should want to have lots to do in retirement. Those who retire into a rocking chair die about 6 months later.

    DarJones
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  4. #4
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    Default Re: My Sideline Small Cell Business Plan

    Quote Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
    A man should want to have lots to do in retirement. Those who retire into a rocking chair die about 6 months later.

    DarJones

    Very true!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: My Sideline Small Cell Business Plan

    Stevebeeman wrote:

    As a side note regarding post 28, regarding CCD I too would like to know about how it spreads. We keep up on the latest research, but haven't heard that anyone knows how it spreads. Sounds like a new topic for you to start Roland.

    With apologies to the OP for deviating from the core of the thread:

    There are many ways we believe it is spread, mostly by removing a super from one hive and placing it after extraction on another. Of course, direct frame exchange is even faster, you cut out the delay of extracting or winter storage.

    I applaud your woodworking skills, but when the bad starts to spread, you will have a hard time containing it, and without a decontamination chamber, your best move is to start with all new bees and all new equipment. That is quite expensive. We run old equipment and new equipment, different yards, they do not mix.

    Crazy Roland

  6. #6
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: My Sideline Small Cell Business Plan

    First 2 years sound pretty achieveable.

    After that, going to 4 or 5 hundred hives is going to be fairly taxing, if you are going all natural comb, and only treating "when necessary". With that many hives, you'd need to be pretty on top of when that was.

    However this is the treatment free section, so probably can't comment further.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  7. #7
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    Default Re: My Sideline Small Cell Business Plan

    Not a commercial guy, so take it what it's worth, but how many years experience do you have with removals and swarm calls? The only reason I ask is what is the basis behind your assumption you will have 40% more cut outs and swarms?

    I'm also curious about your expected numbers by year end. In order to finish year end with 60 and sell 10, you need to (obviously) have at least 70 (although not at one point in time). So if you have 16 now, and we assume all 16 make it through winter, and you are accurate in your 20 swarms and 20 cut-outs, and all of them hive, that would make 56 hives. I'm assuming you will be splitting to get the other 14. I'm not certain you'll be able to split all of the swarms or cut-outs, although some of them you could. Shooting to produce honey as well would also mean at least two of your current full hives won't be used for splits. Still could be done with a 100% success rate.

    But if we assume you have a 20% loss this winter, leaving you with 13 by spring. Some of the swarm calls won't make it, and some of the cut-outs won't either. What's your success rate on those? 80% (a wild guess)? That would mean 32 would make it, giving you 45 total, of which you would have to make 25 out of splits (ten of which would need to be early enough to sell).

    Not saying it isn't possible, just it seems to me to be a higher goal with a whole bunch of assumptions.

    I think it would be better to count the eggs you have in the basket, rather than speculate on the ones you can get tomorrow. Shoot to do the same next year that you did this year. Prepare for bigger, but expect to even out. Most businesses do the first year, if not run into the red.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: My Sideline Small Cell Business Plan

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim 134 View Post
    Do you want to WORK this hard on retirement


    BEE HAPPY Jim 134
    >>>>Good question Jim, right now at 54 it feels feasible, god has his own plans for us though we'll see.

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post

    I think it would be better to count the eggs you have in the basket, rather than speculate on the ones you can get tomorrow. Shoot to do the same next year that you did this year. Prepare for bigger, but expect to even out. Most businesses do the first year, if not run into the red.
    >>>>Disagree with you here, having chalenging goals works best for me. Thanks for the help you make a lot of good observations.

    Oldtimer shoot me a PM if you'd like, yours is the type of experiance that's most helpful.

    Darrel, your posts are very informative and prompted me to start this thread. Thanks.


    Don
    Last edited by Barry; 12-12-2011 at 10:16 AM. Reason: quoting

  9. #9
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    Default Re: My Sideline Small Cell Business Plan

    Goals and business plans are different things though. I just want to make sure you see the difference.

    You can have a goal to increase your hive numbers by 375% in one year, but if it's your plan to do the same you better be able to account for where those hives are coming from. However, you could have a plan to increase to 45 hives not counting splits (through swarms, cut-outs, purchases, what-not) and to increase by as many splits as the bees allow you, while maintaining a goal of 70.

    I just think saying your business plan is to go from 16 hives to 70, without planning on purchasing hives, without knowing how many swarm calls or cut-outs you will do, without doing it for long enough to be able to accurately estimate it, without knowing the average survival rate of those swarms and cut-outs, and without planning on how you are going to achieve your splits is a little more like a wishlist than a plan. Just my two cents though.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: My Sideline Small Cell Business Plan

    Answered most of these questions already, but maybe I didn't do a good enough job explaining.

    Last year:

    I got about 20 cut-out calls and 30 swarm calls.

    From those calls:
    I did 14 cut-outs myself and sold 3 more that I farmed out to other beekeepers.
    Caught 13 swarms myself, passed on about 10 to other beekeepers, arrived too late or missed on the others.

    After selling some hives, having a couple abscond, and winter combining, I've got 16 strong hives going into winter. Being 1st year hives I didn't harvest any honey and most of the hives are going into winter with about 150lbs in stores. Hoping to have 12 left come spring.

    What I'm going to do to try to triple my feral hives:

    1st, I'm doubling my sources for new cut-out and swarms calls.

    2nd, I'm going to do about 20 removals myself, up from 14 last year, already got 4 sold waiting for spring. Being completely new to beekeeping last year, the learning curve on cut-outs was tough, but I've got down now.

    3rd, last year 4 of the swarms I caught were from wild colonies that I previously new the location of and I had the homeowners and neighbors watching for me. This coming up year I've got 9 feral colonies located that I’ll have folks watching for me. I hope to catch 20 -25 swarms. The 10 or so swarms I'll be selling during the year are those that I think haven't originated from feral colonies.

    4th, I'm putting out about 10 swarm traps around town in the 3 areas I've identified with a high density of feral colonies.

    5th, I'll have all the boxes and accessories for 40 new hives,20 nucs, and 15 queen nucs, built and ready to go by April 1st, so I don’t have to stop and make equipment. Last year being limited on equipment probably cost me 15 captures.

    6th, I’m going to raise about 15 – 20 queens.

    7th, after our main spring flow and I have mated queens ready to go, I’ll do about 10 to 20 splits from my weaker hives to make over winter nucs.

    Just like running a business, albeit a small one, hope it’s as much fun.

    I've done all the planning and preperation I can do, now it's up to god.

    Don
    Last edited by Barry; 12-12-2011 at 10:17 AM. Reason: excessive quoting

  11. #11
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    Default Re: My Sideline Small Cell Business Plan

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    Answered most of these questions already, but maybe I didn't do a good enough job explaining.
    No, your explanation of your "goals" is fine. My question revolves around your plan.

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    Last year: I got about 20 cut-out calls and 30 swarm calls. From those calls: I did 14 cut-outs ... Caught 13 swarms myself ... after selling some hives, having a couple abscond, and winter combining, I've got 16 strong hives going into winter. ... Hoping to have 12 left come spring.
    That's kinda my point. You started with 27 and 16 of them made it going into winter. You expect 12 coming out of winter.

    So, lets do the math. You have 12 going into spring, and you need 70. Let's find 58 more hives. If you are planning on doing 20 removals and 20 swarm calls and 45% of them make it through the winter (using the same numbers from last year) that will give you 18 more hives . . . . still have to find 40 more to make your goal . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    4th, I'm putting out about 10 swarm traps around town in the 3 areas I've identified with a high density of feral colonies.
    Placing swarm traps is like fishing. There is no way you can expect to get anything until you have it on the line. Some days you go out and catch a bucket full, others you come back with nothing. If your plan for expansion on the remaining 40 hives comes from swarm traps, you may find yourself very disappointed (or not, you could get the bucket, lol).

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    5th, I'll have all the boxes and accessories for 40 new hives,20 nucs, and 15 queen nucs, built and ready to go by April 1st, so I dont have to stop and make equipment. Last year being limited on equipment probably cost me 15 captures.
    Good plan, but I'd actually recommend having equipment for more than what you need. If 55% of the removals and swarms you capture don't make it, you will probably need more than 70 hives going at one point in time to end with the same number.

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    6th, Im going to raise about 15 20 queens.
    I'm assuming this is your first year raising queens.

    I wish you all the best, and I encourage your "can do attitude," but raising queens is alot harder than most people think. Saying you'll raise 15-20 queens and saying you'll end up with 15-20 queens your first year is MILES apart.

    Most breeders will tell you there is a series of percentages of queens that don't make it, at each stage of events. That percentage is usually higher for beginner breeders (trust me, I know, lol). If you say 80% of your grafts make it (assuming you graft, and that % is high), 80% of your cells emerge (probably close), 75% of your queens return from mating flights properly mated (a high % in my opinion), and 90% of the remaining amount is an acceptable quality (probably about right) that would mean if you started off with 30 grafts, you would end up with 13 queens. You don't have the equipment for 30 cells right now, so I'm not sure expecting 15 queens is quite right.

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    7th, after our main spring flow and I have mated queens ready to go, Ill do about 10 to 20 splits from my weaker hives to make over winter nucs.
    And here is where I think there is a disconnect. Assuming the flow goes great and assuming you have mated queens ready to go, you are assuming that you will make 10 to 20 splits of the then 30 hives. That's certainly doable, and would be a low estimate of what you could do if you had queens ready to go, but you can't count the chickens just yet (not counting what they say about assumptions).

    But, if we take your nummbers (12 hives overwintered, 18 hives from cut-outs and swarm calls, and 20 splits) you are still about 20 hives away from your target.

    As a goal it makes total sense. As a business plan, there is a hole.

    Not to say you shouldn't try. You just asked for comments on your BUSINESS PLAN not your hopes and expectations.



    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    Just my two cents though.
    Sticking with it. Although it's probably up to four cents in weight and one in value by now.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: My Sideline Small Cell Business Plan

    Why throw away money keeping bees when all the income is coming from cutouts and bee sales? Cut em, box em, sell em.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: My Sideline Small Cell Business Plan

    I'm with odfrank, just scrolled through the "business plan" and other posts...max out the time doing the cutouts. Beekeeping looks like it would do nothing but get in the way of the true profit source. Max the cutouts and sell the ba-jesus outa da nucs! There's your business plan.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: My Sideline Small Cell Business Plan

    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    Why throw away money keeping bees when all the income is coming from cutouts and bee sales? Cut em, box em, sell em.
    So far your correct, but my goal is to be able to generate 30 - 40 k of supplemental retirement income yearly as a beekeeper, not as a pest control guy. The removals for now just provide me with free bees and enough money to buy equipment. And I dont see where keeping bees is costing me any money, I'm just in the early growth stages of beekeeping and have gone from 0 to 40 + hives in 16 months.

    As far as bee sales go, I'm trying the feral bee route which I think is a critical component to be chemically treatment free, and I sell or give away the swarms that are not from feral sources.

    Ultimately I may have to turn to selling bees to make money, I'm not in a particularly good honey production area.

    I've learned a lot reading your posts Ollie, thanks for the feedback.

    Don

  15. #15
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    Default Re: My Sideline Small Cell Business Plan

    Perhaps you should look at multiplying your feral bees and requeening the ones not of feral origin. Queens are good business, sell them local for slightly less that it would take to get one shipped in. Swarms are good for drawing comb, even if you ultimately don't want to keep the original queen. I'm just seeing a possibility to trim up some of the slop here. Feel free to disregard.

    This year, I sold my first queens. With the right setup, they have a good profit margin. Also, as far as I can tell, my method is the most efficient I have found for multiplying hives. I didn't feed them or anything. No mini mating nucs either. No queenless cell builders.

    I hope you're having fun with it. I'm following your story. Shoot, I may end up doing the same thing when I retire. That is of course if I can keep proving the naysayers wrong for another 30 years. It's working well so far.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  16. #16
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    Default Re: My Sideline Small Cell Business Plan

    Sol,

    I'm selling the swarms that draw large cell comb, too busy to mess with regressing bees. The other issue is timing, hard to pass up a quick turnaround sale on a late swarm that I charged to remove in the first place. A late swarm that would probably need fall feeding anyway to survive.

    Meant to try getting into queens this year, but just to gosh darn busy.

    I like your input of how you have made money, the whole point of thread was just to discuss ideas of how to go from a hobbyist to a sideliner and grow a young tiny business. Thought real numbers - good, bad, or indifferent would give some insight and lend some credibility to the importance of having and executing a plan.

    Don

  17. #17
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    Default Re: My Sideline Small Cell Business Plan

    Your plan was a bit different from many we see around here. Firstly, it wasn't too pie in the sky, and secondly, you're not some 20-something with a wild eyed idea. Not that there's anything wrong with wild eyed ideas, we all have to be 20-something at some point in our lives. I resemble that remark.

    Many times it seems like people think they've stumbled upon some great untapped resource of wealth when they find beekeeping. "You mean bees bring me honey and I sell it?!?" But as you know, there are never that many of those and very very rarely any that have been around as look as beekeeping has. If there was wealth to be made, there would be people making it.

    I'm just here to be an avid hobbyist and share my methods with hobbyists who I feel are a bit starry eyed toward commercials who do things with a whole different frame of mind. I have nothing against commercials, I just don't feel that hobbyists are best served by emulating them. And the treatment-free aspect is a whole other thing altogether. "You mean I can just not treat and everything will be fine?!?" It's good to see at least four or more users of this forum treatment-free and above the two dozen mark without crashes.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  18. #18
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    Default Re: My Sideline Small Cell Business Plan

    Remenber one thing, You are a second year Beekeeper. You will never know more about Beekeeping then you do at this time! Wait till next year when you start down the slide of dissilusionment!

  19. #19
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    Default Re: My Sideline Small Cell Business Plan

    Don,

    I have a 5 year cashflow excel spreadsheet that we use with our beekeeping clients. It will take very little modification to fit your business plan, if you have Excel I'll be happy to send you a copy of the spreadsheet.

    I'll need your email address, mine is shousebee@gmail.com

    As a side note regarding post 28, regarding CCD I too would like to know about how it spreads. We keep up on the latest research, but haven't heard that anyone knows how it spreads. Sounds like a new topic for you to start Roland.
    "Success is all about attitude"
    California Almond Pollination Services, Inc.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: My Sideline Small Cell Business Plan

    Sol asked:

    Roland, you're the only one I ever hear complaining about CCD. Why is that? I'm asking seriously.

    Because I am the only American commercial beekeeper here that does not sell his bees in fall? Note that I excluded Oldtimer and Honeyhouseholder. Reread the part about the rate of pathogen spread in a commercial situation.

    As for leaving the supers on the hive, you would have to number all the supers, and sort them to return them to the correct hive after extracting. Effective but costly. A decontamination system for all supers AFTER extraction is more feasible(hint hint hint). Besides, you would have to store them under the brood chamber in northern climates, or the condensation would be a major problem. Then the problem is wax moths in the spring, until the bees can cover them like they can now.

    Crazy Roland

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