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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    SNOW SHOE PA USA
    Posts
    1,286

    Default Whats the percentage ?

    Whats the percentage of people that start beekeeping and quit in the first 3 years?
    Seem like to me the longer ya have bees the more thing that happen that can make some think twise about beekeeping.
    Say hello to the bad guy!
    year five==== 32 hives==== T{OAV}

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    3,034

    Default Re: Whats the percentage ?

    I think it's probably pretty high, especially with failures in concurrent years of either hives dying or not getting any honey. Just around here, it seemed there were 3-5 sideliners/small commercial guys throwing the towel in every month and I bet hobbyist were dropping quicker. Also from posts on the forums, seems like a lot of people just wanted to get bees because they're 'cool' but when it actually came to managing the hive and doing inspections it was way out of their comfort zone.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    S Hadley, Massachusetts USA
    Posts
    711

    Default Re: Whats the percentage ?

    I find that small backyard beekeepers get overwhelmed with the knowledge needed and the time to get things done. Most of my customers who fail in the first couple seasons fail because timing of inspections and not taking proper actions. I just had a guy looking for Apiguard. Kinda too late for that kind of treatment. I asked him when he did his last inspection/mite load test? He replied in July.

    Not his fault..............3 kids, wife, and dog. Just doesn't have the time.

    Another trend here in New England is larger sideliners going out of business. Two in New Hamshire in the last month. Just missed out on a great auction.
    Pearl City Apiary Michael and Loucil Bach

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Tyrone, Pennsylvania,USA
    Posts
    353

    Default Re: Whats the percentage ?

    Sometimes i feel overwhelmed when it comes down to all the things that can or do go wrong.I have never had a mentor so i usually learn the hard way.Finding time to all that you should be doing can be difficult and when it comes to beekeeping i can't imagine my life without it.Keeping bees has changed my life in so many ways and all for the better.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,567

    Default Re: Whats the percentage ?

    In my personal experience, quite a few. Many because they refuse to either feed or to do the proper inspections and insist that the bees are supposed to take care of themselves. No one told them that 90% or more of swarms don't make it through the first winter on their own.

    I can understand, though, since I lost my first hive (should have started two that first year) and buying packages or nucs gets expensive.

    As for sideliners and small operations, I can see how it becomes impossible to continue, expenses can easily outstrip the productivity of your hives, and nothing gets cheaper. We still have varroa problems significant enough to cost too many hives to keep going on a marginal situation, it's not like it was in my Grandpa's day when you only occasionally lost a hive over winter and the worst thing you had to worry about was AFB.

    Peter

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Myrtle Beach, SC, USA
    Posts
    876

    Default Re: Whats the percentage ?

    I have only been in it for three years and I cant get enough. The harder it gets the more I want, I refuse to be beat by a bug.
    https://www.facebook.com/stevesbees99
    Please visit my page, Thanks

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: Whats the percentage ?

    It can seem overwhelming sometimes and you can't just hope for the best! My secret weapons in my first years have been my mentor and my local bee club. Having support and lots of experienced beeks to ask questions of is invaluable! Now I'm hooked
    Q

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Norfolk, VA
    Posts
    166

    Default Re: Whats the percentage ?

    I think a lot of hobbies are this way. I am into RC airplanes and I see it every weekend. Someone will show up at the field with a $500 to $1000 airplane that they have spent a month building. When asked if they have ever flown, the answer is always "No, but I have a simulator at home and I am good" - or somthing similar. They will refuse help, so we just sit back and watch. It is 100% failure, with most throwing their trashed plane into the garbage can (we pull it out after they leave ) and curse their way home.

    Same with motorcycles. Do you know how many 1-2 year old $25,000 Harleys you can buy with less than 1000 miles on them? Usually because the driver never had a safety course and scared themselves $#!&less with a near death experience.

    Bottom line is without support and/or a mentor the chances are not good. You need someone to encourage you when failure happens. And you need to know the expectations. I have crashed many an airplane. That is part of the hobby. Accept that you will fail. Most people can't drop $500-1000 on hives, or an model airplane, and watch them crash and still have the courage to do it again.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,268

    Default Re: Whats the percentage ?

    I doubt there are any statistics. Perhaps the bee suppliers could keep track of it - by noting the customers who order for a year or two and never order again. OD Frank says that he lived through a boom/bust cycle in the 70's, and expects to see a bust as beekeeping becomes less fashionable again. I haven't seen that here yet. There is not a glut of used equipment on Craigslist or in the flier I get from my bee club. However, knowing how things come in and out of fashion I would not be surprised - all it would take would be a bad swarm season in a city or a couple of anaphylatic reactions and a local bee-phobic TV anchor to turn the public off or slow the enthusiasm.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    3,178

    Default Re: Whats the percentage ?

    I think it woudl be hard to come up with any way to measure it. orders from suppliers is not one of them. How many people get into beekeeping put a hive or three out back and then just let them do their thing? Fix them when they need fixing but others pay about as much attention to them as they do any other element of their yard. I have a couple of those in my area. They may come to a group like this once a year to find replacement bees or solve a sudden problem and then they are gone. THey did not give up bees. They simply don't make them a significant part of their activities.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Bayboro,NC,USA
    Posts
    243

    Default Re: Whats the percentage ?

    I have kept bees for years and I finally quit keeping them and now I let them keep me. I agree that alot of people get into beekeeping because it looks easy, you get to have honey, you can make stuff with wax,,etc, etc. But they dont realize the work and money involved. They get discouraged and give up. Even the best, most experienced beekeepers loose hives to different reasons.
    If beekeeping is a real passion you will endure and learn either from self study, mistakes or mentors. I find that alot of newbies try to control the behavior of the bees to suit their needs, wants or what they think the bees should do. They have to remember that bees have been doing their thing alot longer than we have been keeping them.
    Hey, this is just my 2 cents worth.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    columbus,ohio,USA
    Posts
    518

    Default Re: Whats the percentage ?

    we have a real big bee club and the bee school has over 100 students every year. I would say maybe 40 percent of them will still have bees in 3 years.
    Chris Cree
    Cree's Bees

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lititz, PA, USA
    Posts
    710

    Default Re: Whats the percentage ?

    boy two phrases just made me chuckle and nod...

    "watch them crash and still have the courage to do it again."
    and
    "can't just hope for the best!"

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    599

    Default Re: Whats the percentage ?

    I rescued my hive from one of the ones that only had the time to give for about 2 years. I plan to give it a longer commitment and make it multiply into more.

    My hobbies tend to grow on me and last for a long time. I did once or twice think about RC airplanes, I realized I did not have the time to commit to them.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: Whats the percentage ?

    Lol... I refer to beekeeping as my obsession, rather than a hobby!
    Q

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Clark, Mo, USA
    Posts
    24

    Default Re: Whats the percentage ?

    I'm a newbee just finishing my second year. It is discouraging with the drought that I didn't get any honey this year either. I'm hooked though, I keep thinking about how many colonies I can add next year. There is a lot more to it than having a box with bees in it, but I find it fascinating all that goes on in the colony. I don't plan on giving up any time soon.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    1,410

    Default Re: Whats the percentage ?

    Ill tell you from experience why people would give up after less than a couple years. Although I didnt give it up, I was actually close due to these reasons:

    Time Constraints - 4 kids, wife, job and hunting/fishing activities.

    Money- New house, one income, I commute to work, wife and kids commute to school. Solution, cut down on other things to supply feed to the bees, sell more honey to pay for bee related items!!

    Property- I moved out of the country and into the city, no possibility of having a hive in town, if I didnt know people, I would have been out of luck. However, I am always on the look out for more property and areas to keep bees incase the local flora doesnt pan out, like what happened this year.

    Most beekeepers probably buy a hive and dont realize how big it can get, it goes from this docile little package into a raging hive in a matter of a couple months, and its intimidating to people when bees are bumping off their veils. They also realize that bees can be protective and the neighbor gets stung and instead of being on bad terms with the neighbor, the hive takes a drive out into the country or the river and is set free, kinda like them cute chicks that city slickers buy at Easter............yes people, they do grow up into giant pooping machines.

    The reason I am staying in beekeeping is because I am willing to adapt, I expected a bumper crop of honey this year, that didnt happen and the air was let out of my sails, but instead of giving up I am going to expand on things and make some queens and nucs to sell next spring, I have a connection now to sell honey to people making mead so if the flora co-operates I can get rid of large quantities.

    If you love something with all your heart, there is nothing that will stop you from achieving your goals.
    Coyote Creek Bees

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
    Posts
    223

    Default Re: Whats the percentage ?

    I could have given up after last year, starting with two hives and losing both. In retrospect there wasn't much that I did wrong, but there were some things I could have done (namely requeening at the first sing of trouble) that would have improved my chances.

    As it happens though I am fairly stubborn and unlikely to quit while I'm behind. Nine swarm traps this year caught four swarms. One was queenless; another had a terminal case of EFB. The other two are doing well. Add one package and two nucs from different suppliers. Add in 200 lbs of sugar, ten trays of Apiguard, and a few teaspoons of Fumagilin and Honey-B-Healthy. Five hives going into winter with ample stores, good queens, and plenty of bees. Apiguard failed to kill mites in one hive; that one will be getting oxalic acid drench in a couple of weeks.

    If I can bring hives through the winter, head off swarming, and get a good crop of honey, I will consider myself a successful beekeeper. Only then would I feel good giving it up in favor of other hobbies, though that seems unlikely given how much I have come to love bees.

    Mark

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts
    145

    Default Re: Whats the percentage ?

    I know a few people about my age (27) keeping bees. Many of them through the university where they are working with pest management.

    I know another handful that tried, things didn't go so well, and they quite.

    I know only one that is trying to produce honey as part of her business.



    Not all swarms that are cast are expected to survive.
    I do not expect all who dabble in beekeeping to take it up permanently.

    Maybe when we find someone interested in beekeeping we put a bucket of sugar syrup on their head and a pollen patty in their mouth to make sure they make it!

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
    Posts
    223

    Default Re: Whats the percentage ?

    Hey, another 27-year-old Minnesotan :-)

    Or ex-Minnesotan in my case.

    There is definitely an explosion of people getting into beekeeping in this area, and I expect that many will not continue, but I think the 40% figure (of beekeepers continuing after two years) is a good estimate. So far I don't personally know anyone who has tried bees and given up.

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