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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    bridgewater , nova scotia
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    677

    Default years invested until commercial

    How many years of beekeeping have you all taken to get to a larger/commercial scale ?

    and what do you consider commercial scale?

    Ben

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Issaquah,WA,USA
    Posts
    2,344

    Default Re: years invested until commercial

    That word commercial is your issue. If you are making living at bee's that would be commercial right? But, what if you have a day job and run 150 hives are you commercial or a sideliner.?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,662

    Default Re: years invested until commercial

    160 years, and still starving......

    Roland Diehnelt
    Linden Apiary, est. 1852

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    bridgewater , nova scotia
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    677

    Default Re: years invested until commercial

    I guess i worded it wrong. I am only trying to see what the growth rate might be for people who now have 100 ++ hives .
    example : it took me 8 years to grow from 2 hives to 100 ++ . : )

    just a curious question here.

    Thanks

    Ben

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    2,922

    Default Re: years invested until commercial

    If I where to consider going commercial I would be thinking of working for a commercial apiary for a min of 4 years before building my own.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Summerfield, NC
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: years invested until commercial

    In-laws have been in the business for nearly a century; I've been at it for a few years. We're equipped to grow to a little less than a hundred hives, but we only run between 10-20. That's the right number for us to sell out of honey each season; any more, and we'd have to find a way to grab a bigger market share, or sell wholesale at a price that isn't appealing to any of us.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Issaquah,WA,USA
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    2,344

    Default Re: years invested until commercial

    OK. I went from 2-11 in the same season. Then next season went to 80. The following season 150. It is a ton of work. I spend 2-3 hours every day of the year building stuff. If I miss a day I have to make it up on the weekend. It costs 20k or so for every 100 hives. Then add in the truck of 10k and forklift of 40k. So it is a huge checkbook suck hole and you might need to keep your day job.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    bridgewater , nova scotia
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    677

    Default Re: years invested until commercial

    Quote Originally Posted by EastSideBuzz View Post
    OK. I went from 2-11 in the same season. Then next season went to 80. The following season 150. It is a ton of work. I spend 2-3 hours every day of the year building stuff. If I miss a day I have to make it up on the weekend. It costs 20k or so for every 100 hives. Then add in the truck of 10k and forklift of 40k. So it is a huge checkbook suck hole and you might need to keep your day job.
    Did you purchase nucs or packages to go from 11 to 80 the next season ?

    I will be keeping my day job , it funds the beekeeping and pays the bills LOL

    Ben

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
    Posts
    1,698

    Default Re: years invested until commercial

    If beekeeping cant fund itself for you, you may want to reconsider growing. It sounds like it might just be a really large expensive hobby.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
    Posts
    3,361

    Default Re: years invested until commercial

    I consider commericial beekeeping to be professional beekeeping - or the point at which you make your living. Anything else I would look at as sideliner or hobbyist. I was very happy as a sideliner and we made good money and did some of our best production running 50 hives. Beekeeping as a full time business is much like any other business and is dependant on the type of person you are as much as the nature of what you do. A few suggestions I might make would be:

    1) Don't under capitalize - 80% of business fail in the 1st 5 years and here's the reason. You may want to move through the stages of sideliner to full time gaining equipment, experiance a market. When you think you have enough of a cushion then double it.

    2) Know thyself - All business today is managing in crisis. The roller coaster economy, CCD, flutating energy costs, health care, retirement, severe weather are just a few challenges you will face every single day. Mangaing today is about being able to be flexible and turn a dime to take advantage of what may come. It takes a great deal of fortitude and faith when you are waiting on a big market day, a big pollination check, a check from a packer ect, and it doesn't come on time. You'll still have to make payroll (your's if nothing else), pay business debt, conduct marketing efforts, make the mortage payment and punt from the 38 yard line. If you don't strive under frequent stress and have the ability to do the impossible on any given day then full time beekeeping ( or any farm business) is likely not for you.

    2) Find/create your niche - Wholesale honey at 2.00/lb and the US production vs demand means you will very likely be able to make reasonable money during your build-up to full time. What will your income streams be, how will you develop them, how long will it take and what hive, vehicle, building, capital and other resourses will you need in place to make that happen. We made the mistake early on of allowing ourself to get pidgeon holed into retail honey sales. It has been good for us but I think it is the most expensive and labor intensive way to make a profit. It took a few year to expand into other areas and make them profitable due to being so invested in one area.

    3) Educate yourself - Lectures, seminars and classes from people who are already doing this at the level you want to reach. Hobbyist courses will be of little value when you are working to efficiently manage a few hundred hives or more a week. Good video's , ABJ and other periodicals, Good bee research studies all will serve you well. You'll need to apply these successfully in the field before you will be successful at the bank. A day with a good commerical beekeeper is worth a week of classroom instruction. Don't forget to subscribe to Inc and Fast Company type magazines to read that people who run $30 million dollar companies have had to sell their car for half what it's worth to make payroll in a bad week. I am always amazed at how my business problems are the same as the guy who runs a huge outlet chain and getting their "mantra" helps me be a better business man overall.

    4) Quit your job when the time come - Bee prepared, plan well, have a reserve and make the jump. Nothing will motivate you and bring out the best business man beekeeper you can be like getting the late notice on your mortgage. Hunger can be a real motivator. Working 18 hrs a day - 7 days a week, trying to work full time and run a commericial operation will cost you more than you will imagine so make you plan, prepare and go for it if that's your dream.

    Most of us who do this for a living are just people who would rather work 12 hours a day and own our time than sell our lives to someone else 8 at a time. We love the creative, challenging process it takes to succeed by our wits and are willing to risk it all to do it and that risk is virutally every day. It is this wonderful roller coaster which as it reaches each new peak we love the anticipation of riding it over the top and screaming down the other side in the face of fear and the face of each victory. Today my 22 year old son sits next to me on this ride now and that's pretty cool too.

    I knew a hospice worker who I spoke with before I made the jump. She told me the only consistent regret she saw with terminal patients was the one thing they really wanted to do in life but didn't go for - With that thought in mind then it really for me was just about what I really wanted. I walked away from a 60K a year job (very good in my area), full bene's and have not regretted it for a day.
    Last edited by Joel; 02-20-2013 at 09:50 AM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    bridgewater , nova scotia
    Posts
    677

    Default Re: years invested until commercial

    Well i need to have more hives right now and eventually (if i can keep them alive every year) i see where it will be funding itself for equipment and feed ect. But until then i want to grow and i have been building most everything myself except for frames , i buy them unassembled , i tried cutting them out and it's to intricate for me right now. but Keeping bees makes me happy . and the customers love the honey that i sell . So life is too short to not do the things a person really wants to do, if i make a profit , so be it.

    I just don't want to step on any toes in the pollination market , but all i hear is "We need more bees for pollination" from the government , so maybe i could get into it someday , who knows.



    Ben

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
    Posts
    1,698

    Default Re: years invested until commercial

    Quote Originally Posted by Joel View Post
    4) Quit your job when the time come - Bee prepared, plan well, have a reserve and make the jump. Nothing will motivate you and bring out the best business man beekeeper you can be like getting the late notice on your mortgage. Hunger can be a real motivator. Working 18 hrs a day - 7 days a week, trying to work full time and run a commericial operation will cost you more than you will imagine so make you plan, prepare and go for it if that's your dream.

    Most of us who do this for a living are just people who would rather work 12 hours a day and own our time than sell our lives to someone else 8 at a time. We love the creative, challenging process it takes to succeed by our wits and are willing to risk it all to do it and that risk is virutally every day. It is this wonderful roller coaster which as it reaches each new peak we love the anticipation of riding it over the top and screaming down the other side in the face of fear and the face of each victory. Today my 22 year old son sits next to me on this ride now and that's pretty cool too.

    I knew a hospice worker who I spoke with before I made the jump. She told me the only consistent regret she saw with terminal patients was the one thing they really wanted to do in life but didn't go for - With that thought in mind then it really for me was just about what I really wanted. I walked away from a 60K a year job (very good in my area), full bene's and have not regretted it for a day.
    I like what I read. I work that 9 hour job daily and have an hour to and from that job for a commute. I also try and run 400 or so colonies. I can attest to the 18 hour days to make all this happen. It is as Joel pointed out. I see the dream of walking away from my well paid job and keeping bees full time, but I am not there yet. It is coming closer and closer, but so is retirement from my cush daily job. I never want to be late on my mortgage and I never want my kids to go cold in the heart of the winter. So for me until mortgage is paid in full I will work my 9 hour daily job. I believe then it will be time to make a leap and hopefully drag my sons with me.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    bridgewater , nova scotia
    Posts
    677

    Default Re: years invested until commercial

    I work at a family business small engine shop and will be taking it over someday in the future , don't get me wrong i like being a mechanic , i am very good at my job , and i walk to work , i live 350 feet away from the shop . I don't make much money , i get 10 /hour and since it's a family business , i treat it like it is my own money and don't take too much. I am nearly 32 years old and i have no kids (except for our 2 great danes : ) ) and me and my fiance have managed our money well enough that the mortgage will be paid off in 5 years time. So i hope i can manage a business in the same respect , where i can do well enough to stay on top and have both businesses going for as long as i am alive : )


    Maybe if i get enough money i could pay someone to run the shop and i will just be a beekeeper : ) LOL

    Ben

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
    Posts
    1,698

    Default Re: years invested until commercial

    Sounds to me like you will have no problem. Why supplement the bees from your current income then?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    bridgewater , nova scotia
    Posts
    677

    Default Re: years invested until commercial

    What do you mean supplement from my current income ? Sorry i am a little thick sometimes : ) It feels like monday all over again today.
    I only have 7 hives right now , so for me to grow faster i will need to buy more bees to do that. I don't want to split my strong hives in spring , because from what i was told , it will decrease the honey production in those hives. But i am only going by what i am told here. I will be taking a course at a university this year that has 4 different modules throughout the season , hopefully it will cover a lot of the questions i have on managing an apiary properly.

    Have a good day

    Ben

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
    Posts
    1,698

    Default Re: years invested until commercial

    I sorry Ben. I am mistaken. I thought you were saying you already have 100 colonies.

    Maybe you should take your weaker ones and split them to save the cost of buying NUCs and packages. Thats a tough choice to make for sure.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lk Stevens, WA
    Posts
    158

    Default Re: years invested until commercial

    To grow at your own pace is the best in my opinion. As you sell your honey and maybe get some pollination money, buy more equipment and slowly expand. Each nitch in keeping bees requires different skills. Also your managment skills and practices will have to change as you grow too.

    As I am growing I keep the beekeeping money separate from the family account. I have been holding at about 100 hives for the last couple of years and will bump that up to around 150 this year. I wanted to have the funds in hand to get a truck and forklift before I started to get any larger.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    bridgewater , nova scotia
    Posts
    677

    Default Re: years invested until commercial

    Yeah sounds like a smart way to grow without major debt load. I think i will get at least another 5-6 nucs this spring if they are available and if i have some weak colonies i will make nucs out of them and requeen or something.

    This should be a fun year , i can't wait until spring time.

    Ben

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    1,384

    Default Re: years invested until commercial

    I like your break down Joel, thanks for the insight!
    Coyote Creek Bees

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Stillwell, KS
    Posts
    645

    Default Re: years invested until commercial

    Will be starting my 3rd year, have 40+ hives now. Figure it will take me the next 10 years till I retire from my day job, to get to 500 hives, so I can then take it easy. So far I've yet to buy a bee.


    Don

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