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Thread: Money?

  1. #1
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    Default Money?

    Can anyone tell me on average how much money a person can make on each hive that is doin well with making the honey in the southern states? As in arkansas and Louisiana?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Money?

    "You can make a million dollars keeping bees.
    All ya gotta do is start out with three million."
    -TFBM

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Money?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beregondo View Post
    "You can make a million dollars keeping bees.
    All ya gotta do is start out with three million."
    -TFBM
    Ok thanks.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Money?

    Solomon Parker is our resident AK specialist.

    But, this is an answer almost impossible to supply. Too many variables. How good a business person are you? Are you treating your beekeeping like a business, or like a hobby? If the latter, the enjoyment factor outweighs the investment return factor.

    A friend of mine w/ a cpl thousand colonies figures he spends around $175.00 per colony each year. I haven't asked him what he earns from each colony.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Money?

    Last year here in S.E. Texas, and due to the record drought, most saw no honey at all and many experienced the loss of many hives. This year is different and most are harvesting a lot of honey. Each year is different depending mostly on the weather.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Money?

    The value of your product will vary greatly depending on where you are, what's your competition, quality, and what's your attitude. And are you good at marketing. The one key that I recommend, is that if at possible, cut out the middle man. If you don't have the time to run your own sales point, see if you can sell it on consignment at local stores. That will at least support your profit margin a little more than just selling it to the store so they can mark it up 100%. After all, one can go to Walmart and get bulk honey for $2-3/lb. But that's because a packer somewhere bought it by the barrel for probably less than $1/bbl, from a commercial beekeeper that just wanted to get rid of it. If you have surplus, don't just dump it to a packer at a low cost, unless you absolutely have to. It doesn't go bad, so if you have space, just store it up until you find a more lucrative outlet. As Michael mentioned above, last summer was bad down here, and honey was hard to come by. With the drought, the cost of hay for livestock shot through the roof, and people were importing from as far away as Iowa. Not sure that honey jumped that much, but it's just a good example of how climate is also a factor.

    But IMHO, the quality of store honey doesn't hold a flame to the quality of my own, fresh out of the back yard. I harvested out 3 lbs a couple weeks ago, cut it as chunk comb, and sold it for about $6/lb. I sold all four jars before noon, simply by bringing them to work and telling a few friends. I also set out a jar of incidental honey that I had collected when fixing comb problems. It was cloudy with pollen, but the taste was not compromised. I meant to set it out as bait, for samples, but also by noon, someone took the "free" on the lid a little to literal, and swiped the whole jar! Whoever it was didn't even bother to say "thanks"

    Be proud of your product, and don't waste a drop. Use everything you can from the hive, and you should see good value, as long as the margins and the market is there to fill. I'd also recommend focusing on niche markets. Again, you can go buy liquid honey almost anywhere. But have you ever seen chunk comb on the store shelf? Not I. What's funny to me, is cutting chunk comb is actually less work than extracting (again, IMO), yet I can demand a higher price as it is a hard to come by commodity, and people absolutely love it! In AR and LA you might find the market already saturated with "local" honey, and that is certainly where the biggest gains are. For once I am lucky to live in the suburbs, because very few people keep bees in the city, even with the recent trend in urban beekeeping. The upside to this is higher demand, as well as a more diverse customer base. Plus in the suburbs, so many people have flower beds and flowering trees, my bees basically work from home!

    The best thing I believe one can do from a marketing standpoint, is to first establish good will, even if it mean losing a little at first, like my jar of "free" honey. It got attention, and I just left a note beside it to call me for more information.

    Then again I didn't even mention apitherapy, package bees, or queen rearing. I think all that will fall under a niche market heading. I'd like to try it all some day. Vertically integrate using what is best for you. I don't know how one guy could spend $175/hive in a year, unless he is feeding a lot, and counting in tangibles like fuel into the cost of a hive. Seems he must be putting in a lot of new packages or something. I spent $135 to get one package and a clipped/marked queen. Another $60 in the hive, and $50 worth of a cheap suit, smoker, and hive tool, and I'm in business. If my splits take, I'll be up to 4 hives in a couple weeks. From an asset standpoint, each established colony could sell for $200-250. A nuc (as they are now) should sell for around $150. So if I sold three as nucs, I'm already over double my original investment. I don't intend to do that, but perhaps you can see the dollar signs.

    I don't mean to make it sound like it's too good to be true, because indeed it is...for now. If your serious about trying to make money as a beekeeper, you can't do it because you think you will be cashing in on honey money. Chase those niche markets and you should see better margins. Or again, vertically integrate.

    Alright, I've probably put everyone to sleep, I'm out!
    Last edited by Tom Brueggen; 06-28-2012 at 06:03 AM. Reason: typos
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Money?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Pawelek View Post
    Each year is different depending mostly on the weather.
    It is a wonder anyone tries to make a living at farming...

    $175.00 per colony each year.
    What would be normal? Can I ask what your ballpark figure is? I have to wonder now if you dumped your bees in the fall and bought new in the spring would your costs be this high?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  8. #8

    Default Re: Money?

    I don't believe any beekeeper really wants to just dump bees in the fall and buy more in the spring. But the majors that focus on pollination for example, may not have the time or resources to overwinter 1000's of hives. It's easier from a business standpoint to just set them in the outyard and pray. The time/resources they would have to invest in feeding and maintaining the hives through the winter would outweigh the cost of just replacing a package in the spring.

    Just to clarify, I'm not lashing out at pollination service providers. Again, it's just another niche market, and from a business standpoint, you have to do what makes money. After all, I paid $135 for one package of bees, because I just bought one. The majors buy 100's or even thousands of packages at once, earning a substantial discount from buying in bulk. Some package supplier out there cashes in early, as it is easier to do that than expend the effort of trying to sell one package at time to some hobbyist like me. Now a good pollination services company would buy out that package supplier, to lower their costs that much more, and raise profits.

    My goal in beekeeping is to experience every facet of it as quickly as possible, and then decide which key items are best for me to pursue. So let's say, I'll focus on raising bees and manufacturing hives, so then I can sell established colonies. The honey I would sell just as extra cash. If your goal is to make all your money through honey, then you better find a way to really cut the cost of your bees. If you want to sell bees you better find a way to get cheap feed and queens.

    In the end, bees are just another form of livestock, just like raising cattle or hogs. People just don't realize it, and think that bees are something special.

    I cannot speak for ballpark figures, as I have not been in it long enough to even estimate. I have spoken with a friend about his friend that does commercial pollination services. This guy runs 3-5000 hives. If each hive gets $100 for pollination, do the math, that's $500,000 per pollination job, assuming he uses all hives. If they all survive, and can be moved, say from CA after the bloom up to the NE for blueberries and cherries, he might pick up another $100/hive there. But there are massive costs incurred in between on transport and maintenance. In the end, in a good year, he may pocket $150-200K, which is nothing to snub your nose at. But that takes a lot of work, and even more risk to run a program that big. In a bad year he stands to lose just as much.

    I've been keeping a detailed balance sheet of my paltry operation. Part is for proof to my wife that it is not always a losing game. The other part is for records. If I do find it to be a losing game, then I'll know that I need to change my strategy or abandon the chase. The people that lose everything tend to keep poor records and run a pretty bad operation. I'd venture to say that the ones that lose big, are the same ones that buy in too big, expecting to make a quick buck without truly understanding the bees or the market. Start small, and when you find what works, ramp up quick. And don't always look to cash in early. It takes six years to create a new breed of orchid flower, but when it sells, it can be game changer! Patience will prevail.
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Money?

    You can make money off of your hobby bee hives in the south if you try - after you stop spending a lot of money on equipment.

    Last year I overwintered 10 hives and harvested an average of a bit more than 15 quarts each from 7 of them. My feed cost was ababout $20 per hive, medication was almost nothing. That was one year - my first honey year, not every year. You can do the math.

    It wasn't a lot, but it paid for my equipment up to that point including a small maxant extractor. This year my honey is looking a little better, and I have only bought some frames - so profit should be better. I might make a dollar an hour.

    Also my entire extended family gets to enjoy homegrown honey all year.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Money?

    Here,in a bad year,$0.00.In the best of all possible years,when everything goes just right,
    around $300.00.That would be with the sale of some honey and a nuc or two.I freely admit that I have not had that second scenario happen to all hives in a single year.I am happy with something in the 100-200 range.Mine is a backyard operation and I don't do pollination.
    Everyone's operation is different.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Money?

    Hey Tom,
    Bring me a gallon of your "free" honey and I will be a nice guy and tell you who ate it!

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Money?

    I understand that commercial beeks are in it for the money, however, I'm in it for the enjoyment. I walk over every morning, just to watch the girls fly in and out. I love watching them. I'm diabetic,so don't really care about the honey, however, I ama candle maker, and do care about the beeswax. To each his own.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Money?

    Guys, the OP simply asked for an average profit per hive that can be reasonably expected when things are going well in AR and LA.

    I am curious, too.
    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 14 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Money?

    The most I have ever made off of a single hive in a single season was about $500.00 That was after expenses. But that was using the hives in nuc production and selling 8 nucs from each hive.

    With the longer season you should be able to do better than that.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Money?

    $500 net from one hive!? Wow!
    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 14 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Money?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Solomon Parker is our resident AK specialist.
    Never been there.

    Here in Northwest Arkansas, there are a few beekeepers but no commercials. There is only one commercial operation that I know of and that is down in the delta. So it can be done.

    This year, I harvested about $1000 worth of honey and sold three queens and three nucs. If I don't watch out, I'm going to start breaking even. This is my ninth year and this is the first year that I'm coming close to breaking even. Part of that is I'm in the first year where I have as many hives as I want. I'll lose some this winter to even the numbers out and set me up with drawn comb and then I'll be right where I want to be.

    You want to make money? Have as many hives as you want, no more, no less, and make sure it's a sustainable population. That's all I have for you. Exactly how much is wild eyed speculation at best.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Money?

    If you ask around people will tell you that there is more money in selling bees than honey but the OP specifically asked about honey. If two dollars is the going rate for bulk honey than a hive that produces 100 pounds brings in $200 gross. Even with all the variables I can't see the average being too far away from the $200 mark.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Money?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oneupsuperdog View Post
    Can anyone tell me on average how much money a person can make on each hive that is doin well with making the honey in the southern states? As in arkansas and Louisiana?
    Someone in your State should be able to tell you what the average per colony production for your State is. Your State Apiculturalist or someone like that. Then do the math according to what you can sell that amount of honey for. That'll give you a guesstimate.

    Here in NY, I know, not AR or LA, I had an average per colony production of about 30 lbs. So, selling that honey at about $3.00/lb that's $90.00 per colony. I also averaged $38.80/colony for pollination, across all of the colonies I had. Even though I didn't use all of my colonies in pollination. But, that's how one averages things, isn't it? I also sold some nucs. Around 100 nucs @$80.00 each. So, on average, what would that be from 500 colonies. $16.00?

    $90.00 plus $38.80 plus $16.00 equals $144.00 income per colony. Somehow that doesn't look right. I must have missed something. If it takes $175.00 to support a hive, then I've lost $31.00/colony. Which I don't think I did. Something is wrong w/ my figures.

    Better luck to Onesuperdog.
    Last edited by sqkcrk; 06-28-2012 at 04:01 PM.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Money?

    Quote Originally Posted by shinbone View Post
    $500 net from one hive!? Wow!
    It all is dependent on what you are willing to do. Nobody making a living keeping bees is doing so by selling honey alone. Their money is in pollination contracts and the sale of excess bees. If you are willing to sacrifice all honey production with the aim to make money it can be done.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Money?

    Actually I would disagree. What you have to do is do all aspects of honey production and sales, nuc production and sales and pollination service and do them well. You have to work as hard as your bees.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

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