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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Louisa, VA
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    68

    Default Any tips for a hobbyist transitioning to a sideliner bee business???

    Any tips for a hobbyist transitioning to a sideliner bee business???

    I would really appreciate any tips ranging from equipment choices, minimizing overhead, increasing proficiency of operation (feeding choices, management), etc. I am still relatively small overwintering about 60 colonies right now, but have been growing steadily, at the minimum doubling annually. So far I have been trying to let the hobby pay for its own growth. I have been realizing that management techniques and equipment choices require optimization to transition to a productive business! I realize this is a broad topic, but any input would be appreciated!

    These are the areas of beekeeping I am involved with:

    1. Selling nucleus colonies (Any tips on commercially feeding nucs?)

    2. Selling some queens (This year I am working on setting up an incubator to house cells, any tips?)

    3. Honey production (Any tips on a honey extractor choice for my operation size?)
    "Science is knowing, art is doing, and common sense is knowing and doing on the basis of experience." Alex Shigo

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,749

    Default Re: Any tips for a hobbyist transitioning to a sideliner bee business???

    steady growth seems about the best advice I could give. dont get in a hurry, let things happen, but be ready when they do
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Louisa, VA
    Posts
    68

    Default Re: Any tips for a hobbyist transitioning to a sideliner bee business???

    Thanks Ian! That sounds like good advice!
    "Science is knowing, art is doing, and common sense is knowing and doing on the basis of experience." Alex Shigo

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Salem, Oregon
    Posts
    938

    Default Re: Any tips for a hobbyist transitioning to a sideliner bee business???

    I'm with Ian.
    Grow your operation along with your skills.
    I did the same thing, doubling every year until common sense told me to start reducing the rate each year.
    The MOST IMPORTANT thing that I can suggest is to put the bees health and conditions first.
    There was a lame thread a while back where someone asked what the "commercial way" to introduce queens was.
    Bees do not accept queens differently because they are in a commercial operation. Forget the "commercial" tag and never apoligise for being a good beekeeper!
    Don't run your bee operation by jury. It's your operation; you make the final decisions.
    Select best practices that work well for your peers and develop them slowly to your liking.
    And one more very important thing:
    One of the worse things I see is beekeepers that change almost every thing that they do every year.
    As time goes on you will develop proceedures , feed, medications, queens, etc that work well.
    It is good to rotate certain medications, but if you have a system that works DON'T SCREW WITH IT!
    And be very careful about listening to those that jump aboard every kockameme scheme that pops up on the internet.
    Try to find a commercial mentor that you wish to emulate ( based on solid sucsess) and pay close attention.
    It sounds like you are off to a good start.
    Good luck to you!
    I have exactly ONE hive more than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond question.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,749

    Default Re: Any tips for a hobbyist transitioning to a sideliner bee business???

    I know its not what your looking for, but all your other questions can be categorized as either preference or affordability

    I kept doubling every year for a bunch of years, and re invested my earnings. I turned over a lot of equipment, and built alot of equipment but it was the only way I could afford to build my op.
    I have seen guys jump in, and invest a pile of money on old equipment and bugs. The bugs died and the equipment looked ragged without bees in it.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,172

    Default Re: Any tips for a hobbyist transitioning to a sideliner bee business???

    I see from your profile you are a Mercedes Tech, I think that will stand you in good stead. I have noticed that a common characteristic of beekeepers that seem to have commercial success, or those that post here at least, is the ability to fix equipment that breaks. That means as you scale up more options are open to you; For example it means that I would never scale up large enough to take advantage of automated extraction equipment as my wife only has time to fix so much... Good luck. There have been some really good threads on this forum about honey house design, and if you palletize designs for them etc.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    8,979

    Default Re: Any tips for a hobbyist transitioning to a sideliner bee business???

    Beekeeping comes natural because that is what you want to do. Learn business operations, how to deal with regulations, accounting, and marketing. Your fellow beekeeper is both your friend and your competition. What is your plan for balancing friend vs. competition?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    2,818

    Default Re: Any tips for a hobbyist transitioning to a sideliner bee business???

    I will add that everything has to be considered on a cost to profit basis. you can no longer afford to pay to keep bees basically. Buying wooden ware may no longer be an option but a necessity for example. better to pay the guy that can make them in a matter of seconds per piece than to spend hours in the shop making them yourself. You are paying for an awful lot. shop and equipment maintenance is not your concern etc.

    Rearing your own queens on a large scale may give you a bigger bang for your time and effort. It also causes your bees to be doing the work for your apiary.

    It is beekeeping as it was mentioned above. just more of it. frequency of various events will be more common. The better prepared you are to see the problem have the answer and implement it. the better you can get from hive to hive. and the more you can tend to.

    Overhead will increase dramatically. you will not have as much room to order the whatever you need after you see you need it. being prepared will be a major hurdle to set for yourself. Don't think just a hive if you want to increase by one hive. think a hive and a half. That way when ti does better than expected you are ready. if it fails you are ready for the next two.

    most importantly cross bridges as you reach them. don't fret how to deal with mites next fall. be focused on how to increase this spring. the fall will have it's own time to be worried about. You need to be focused on doing today what needs to be done and doing it well. With maybe an understanding of what might be coming. I am a firm believer that doing today well is the best prevention for a difficult tomorrow.

    Don't loose your love of keeping bees.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

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