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  1. #81
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Volga, SD
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    2,790

    Default Re: Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby

    I hate to beat a dead horse. I understand the spirit of this thread, and I believe that, given the right person and the right circumstances, beekeeping could be an inexpensive hobby. I disagree completely with the title, "Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby." For most hobbyist beekeepers, it is anything but inexpensive (see comparisons to "cheap," as well). And the flat-out statement is incorrect, I think.

    Anyway after all this, I think we can safely say that NOBODY really keeps bees for free (as you claimed in the first post of this thread). -Nabber86
    I think this is fair, as long as readers understand that we truly are not talking about "beekeepers" inclusive of those rare folks who have unmanaged hives living in trees on their property. Such "keeping" certainly is cost-free, but hardly qualifies as "beekeeping" as most of us understand the term.

    And again I didn't claim that but you can see what you want to see as you usually do. -Acebird
    Actually, you did. The last line of your original post in this thread read:

    It is the only hobby that I know of where you literally do not have to spend one dime to get into. -Acebird
    Powerful statement, but not accurate. Other hobbies certainly exist. And some costs (expenses amounting to at least 10cents, or one dime) go along with every form of beekeeping that I would term "beekeeping."

    I like the stimulation of ways to save money in beekeeping from this discussion. Some creative ideas have been suggested here. Not all of them will work for all people; a number of the ideas will not be practical for the vast majority of beekeepers. It has sparked discussion of ways to start less expensively for people who otherwise might not be able to come with the money to buy all their equipment and bees.

  2. #82
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    Apr 2009
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    New Port Richey Fl USA
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    238

    Default Re: Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby

    Beekeeping can be inexpensive, or not so, depends on your attitude and willingness to make your own equipment, catching swarms etc.

    Anyway I bet than beekeeping in general is much cheaper that such "hobbies" as flying small planes or owning/actively using a boat.

    BOAT (Bring over another thousand)

    http://www.zerotocruising.com/bring-...ther-thousand/

  3. #83
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
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    223

    Default Re: Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby

    I find beekeeping to be a very cheap hobby. You almost always get something back even if your bees die. Most hobbies are holes in the ground where you keep pouring money into and very rarely get something of value back other than entertainment.
    It is the only hobby that I know of where you literally do not have to spend one dime to get into.
    Acebird, you sure know how to start active threads on here. I have to think you get some sort of high from eliciting so many responses and starting arguments. Every forum has its active members but you are something else - by my count you have 28 posts so far today.

    That said, I'll rise to the bait and offer my perspective. I find beekeeping to be one of my more expensive hobbies. Allow me to explain.

    I garden. My yard is free. Seeds cost $2-3 per packet. Basic tools can be had for about $50. Add another $100 for fence, fertilizer, pest control, and irrigation. About $200 for a good-sized garden. In 3-4 months that garden will produce about $200 worth of food of all types, which I eat, sell, or trade. Net expense: nearly zero.

    I brew beer. Ingredients for a five gallon batch cost $35. A brew pot is $50 if you don't have one already for something else. A glass carboy, airlocks, and bottle capper will run another $50. So around $100 to start up, averaged over six batches, is $50 for five gallons. That is 50 12-oz bottles, or a dollar a bottle. Cheaper than good beer in the store. Time until beer is ready: 2 months. Net expense: nearly zero, assuming I would have bought the beer anyway.

    I have 19 hens. Chicks are $3 each. Feed costs $30 a month. The coop was repurposed from an old shed, with $50 spent on nest boxes. Hens start laying in 5-6 months. I sell extra eggs to friends for $3/dozen, which offsets the cost of feed. Net expense: nearly zero.

    I have four beehives. Each hive has four boxes. Each box is $12 for the box, $12, for the frames, and $8 for the foundation. That is $512 alone. Add in four covers and bottom boards for $150. A bee suit is $60. Accessories (smoker, bee brush, hive tools) come to $50. Bees are $90 per package, and throw in an extra $40 for replacement queens. If you want to recoup investment you need an uncapping knife ($30) and a honey extractor ($200 for a simple one). I was lucky to get about a third of my woodenware and the extractor and uncapping knife donated from neighbors, but if you add up those numbers for four hives it comes to $1400. Honey is worth about $3/lb to me, as that's what I pay for it in bulk at the local farmers market. If I assume no honey the first year and 50 lbs/hive/year thereafter, I will break even in 3-4 years, assuming no value for my time as it is a hobby.

    So...compared to my other "homesteading" hobbies, beekeeping is by far the most expensive, with the longest return period and the least certainty of getting a return. Certainly it is possible to spend less by building your own equipment, catching swarms, etc., but unless you have a full shop already that will require buying new (expensive) tools, etc. At the moment I can only afford one hobby as expensive as beekeeping, and beekeeping it is...

    Mark
    Last edited by Luterra; 02-16-2012 at 05:36 PM.

  4. #84
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    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    10,024

    Default Re: Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby

    Quote Originally Posted by Capricorn View Post
    Swarms are (most of the time) great and easy and simple and safe but I believe most beginners would still feel more intimidated by them when they could just pick them up in a pre-packaged box instead.
    Maybe you are right but that doesn't get them the honey. At some point you have to dig into a hive and take the honey away from them or kill them first. Most people don't plan on killing them first so they get over the intimidation part.

    I will say cut outs shouldn't be done by the average beekeeper because it involves reverse construction. Technically it would be illegal to do it in our area in most homes because of the new lead paint law.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  5. #85
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Cookeville, TN
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    138

    Default Re: Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby

    I think there has been quite a bit of hair splitting in this thread so far I agree there is no way that you could start out with absolutely nothing and be able to keep bees for "free". Im pretty lucky in that I have a lot of tools and random junk lying around and know other people with equal amounts of tools and randome junk. I've also never let not knowing how to do something get in the way of doing it. My first swarm retrieval was my first experience actually handling bees. I screwed it up horribly, got stung twice and didnt even get the queen. But I got a little experience and the second time I got the swarm and the after swarm that came out. I did one more swarm after that then got a call for a cutout. I did the cutout and the last time I checked that hive is still alive and well. Im not gonna lie there was a bit of trepidation on that first swarm call but if you want the bees you'll get over it.

    Most people seem to be focusing on Langstroth hives in this thread but if you are really looking to start out cheaply then a TBH is the way to go. IMO a TBH is a really good way to go as a beginner. The nature of the hive means you need to check the hive weekly. I know as a beginner I had to stop myself from checking the hives too much. Slapping together a TBH could be done with a hand saw and hammer for tools. Now having said all of that I am keeping my 2 TBH's but I'm probably going to go mostly Langstroth from here on out. They are a bit less work

  6. #86
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    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby

    Well Mark, maybe we should listen to you about chickens and you should listen to me about bees. I would have to say our eggs cost about 9 dollars an egg and we sell the extras for 2 bucks a dozen but you have to adopt my wife's philosophy about food in general. We got honey the first year, just kill your bees. I learned that without ever talking to a commercial guy.

    Is this an argument? If you argue with me you are a fool.

    I think there are enough responses in this thread that proves that you COULD get into beekeeping without spending a DIME if one is so inclined. Never did I say anyone can do it.

    I am secretly hired by Barry to stimulate Beesource. NOT!
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  7. #87
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby

    You get out of it what you put into it. If you only spend a dime, I hope you enjoy getting around spending anything more in a creative way.
    Mark Berninghausen
    Squeak Creek Apiaries



  8. #88
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Oregon City, Oregon
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    991

    Default Re: Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby

    Quote Originally Posted by Nabber86 View Post
    Heck, I have spent over $200 on shipping alone.
    Should have shopped Mann Lake first...
    Honeydew

  9. #89
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    Sep 2005
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    Greensboro, North Carolina
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    Default Re: Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    In small proprietorships if you don't pay yourself it does not count as a business expense.
    I never used the word expense Acebird. I said it "counts." Meaning you can't negate it, and say it doesn't exist.

    To deduct it as an expense is an entirely different subject.

  10. #90
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    Apr 2009
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    Stilwell, KS
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    1,894

    Default Re: Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    Maybe you are right but that doesn't get them the honey. At some point you have to dig into a hive and take the honey away from them or kill them first. Most people don't plan on killing them first so they get over the intimidation part.
    So you advise beginners to catch swarms instead of buying bees because they are going to have to get over their itimidation at harvest time anyway? In the likely event that a nervous newbee drops a load of bees in his lap (or worse), we are likely to loose a potential new beekeeper to the community. Is that what you want?

    I think it is much better (and safer) for a beginner to start down an easier path with a package or nuc, build confidence throughout the spring and summer, and then harvest the honey in the fall.

    BTW - Did your wife buy you your first package, or did she go out and catch a swarm for you?
    Honey Badger Don't Care ಠ_ಠ ~=[,,_,,]:3

  11. #91
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    Sep 2011
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
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    223

    Default Re: Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby

    Well Mark, maybe we should listen to you about chickens and you should listen to me about bees. I would have to say our eggs cost about 9 dollars an egg and we sell the extras for 2 bucks a dozen but you have to adopt my wife's philosophy about food in general. We got honey the first year, just kill your bees. I learned that without ever talking to a commercial guy.
    We get free wheat berries from a research program at the local university and mix them 1:1 with high-protein layer pellets. Works out to about 19 cents/lb for chicken feed.

    I tried to leave honey for the bees, but they killed themselves anyway and left most of it behind. Oh well, 70 lbs of honey should help kickstart the new season...

    Is this an argument? If you argue with me you are a fool.
    Why, because you have endless perseverance?

  12. #92
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Westchester NY
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    239

    Default Re: Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby

    This is all a bunch of hypothetical who--ha if you ask me--most things are technically possible but not that probable

    Posts should be more informative rather than argumentative like this thread Ace--

    So far I learned:

    Birdwatching is expensive
    Someone will pay me to use their equipment and wood and show them how to make a hive and I get to keep it
    Cheap and Inexpensive are different things
    Time has no monetary value to build all of my "free equipment"
    Bees are swarming in the trees like grapes waiting to be harvested

    ..and thats just the half of it
    Lets have more specific technique driven discussions perhaps they would be more informative and maybe productive instead of hypothetical minutiae
    Last edited by xcugat; 02-16-2012 at 06:36 PM.

  13. #93
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Gray,Ga. USA
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    26

    Default Re: Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby

    If you already have that kind of skill and equipment, how much have you spent on your woodworking shop already? quote.

    I hate to tell you I built my 20x25 shop from pallets. and reclamed metal roof. I have a total cost of 125.00 in itshop.jpg

  14. #94
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Gray,Ga. USA
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    26

    Default Re: Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby

    Quote Originally Posted by Nabber86 View Post
    So you advise beginners to catch swarms instead of buying bees because they are going to have to get over their itimidation at harvest time anyway? In the likely event that a nervous newbee drops a load of bees in his lap (or worse), we are likely to loose a potential new beekeeper to the community. Is that what you want?

    I think it is much better (and safer) for a beginner to start down an easier path with a package or nuc, build confidence throughout the spring and summer, and then harvest the honey in the fall.

    BTW - Did your wife buy you your first package, or did she go out and catch a swarm for you?
    Personnelly I belive the best way to introduce new beeks is to offer them a starter hive and then work with them and their hive and mine to share the joy of bee keeping. That is what I did with my friend. and he now has 17 hives.

    john

    showing and teaching is a hands on experance (that is what beekeeping should always be about.) passing on the love of our hobbie.

    john

  15. #95
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    Nov 2011
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    Gray,Ga. USA
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    26

    Default Re: Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby

    Quote Originally Posted by quevernick View Post
    How do you like the chainsaw mill, I've been thinking about building one.
    It is great but a little slow. I built mine from a discarded rack used to transport hunting stand on atvs. I removed the atv mounts got 8 inch 3/4 alltread from a shop that suts off the excess from brake boosters for trucks. I drilled and taped the ends and welded flat metal to frame. used 2 nuts on each to mount to frame. drilled bar to run bolts threw and into altread. whalla perfect level cuts on each pass.
    I cut 1 1/4 inch slabs and dry then plane to 3/4.

    john

  16. #96
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby

    Quote Originally Posted by divemaster1963 View Post
    Personnelly I belive the best way to introduce new beeks is to offer them a starter hive ...

    john
    For free?
    Mark Berninghausen
    Squeak Creek Apiaries



  17. #97
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    Mar 2008
    Location
    Westchester NY
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    239

    Default Re: Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby

    I think it should actually cost something as then there is some tangible outlay of something-- a vested interest--not a tremendous amount but enough that they show concern rather than a "whatever attitude" But I agree the best way to get people involved and learn is through mentoring them as long as it is not hand holding ie call me after you have read a beekeeping manual and come up with a possible diagnosis than we can talk productively

  18. #98
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    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    For free?
    Lol, well, if you wanted the best way that would probably be it. Not really too practical though. And I don't have the funds to support such an effort (although, if everything was free . . . ).

    NC State did a program like that, were 10 people got free hives, free equipment, and free bees if they would take an intro class. I don't know how it ended up, ie if they kept keeping bees after a few years . . .

  19. #99
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby

    Did they pay for the intro class? Or was that subsidized?
    Mark Berninghausen
    Squeak Creek Apiaries



  20. #100
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    Sep 2005
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    Greensboro, North Carolina
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    Default Re: Beekeeping is a very cheap hobby

    It was subsidized.

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