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  1. #61
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: I would like to be a commercial beek

    Guy,
    You can't start to think about employees until you get to where you need them. Two hundred hives isn't that point. Fivehundred you will feel you need an employee, one. But you will need to have 500 more to pay for him. And you will have to be fortunate enough to find the right person who will work as hard as you do when you want him to for as little as you can afford to pay him.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  2. #62
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    May 2009
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    Garland, Bladen County, NC, USA
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    Default Re: I would like to be a commercial beek

    Quote Originally Posted by GuyDurden View Post
    I just don't see the huge deal, other than work ethic and high start up costs. Yea, those are indeed big deals, but with every apiary around here A) ALWAYS sold out of queens, nucs, and packages, additionally, most seem to be sourcing their stock from georgia, why not cut myself a niche and be a local guy? Surely it can be done. Perhaps I am too hopeful and unrealistic, but at least hedges and I were on similar pages in our thinking.

    .
    Who are these Apiaries around Randolph, NC? Are they commercial beekeepers? Or are they just sideliners? I only know of 3 truly commercial beekeepers in NC (Siloam, Mebane, and Harrells). The difference between sideliner and Commercial Beekeeper is enormous - Commercial Beekeeping requires a dramatic lifestyle change. The title of your thread, indicates you want to be a Commercial Beekeeper - this is going to require "Passion", and if you lack this passion and only have "Interest".... then you may want to start a new thread entitled "I want to be a Sideliner". But lets assume this passion exists.... if Siloam is too far for you... then drive down to Mebane, NC and talk to Jeff Lee (good talker BTW) and he speaks the truth. It's only about 50 miles from Randolph. He is a single guy running about 1500 -2000 hives from CA to ME, and he can wax eloquently on woes and elations that come from commercial beekeeping. You don't have to work for him... just talk to him... that would be a start.
    “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled.” - The Quran

  3. #63
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    Garland, Bladen County, NC, USA
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    Default Re: I would like to be a commercial beek

    Quote Originally Posted by GuyDurden View Post
    Yea, those are indeed big deals, but with every apiary around here A) ALWAYS sold out of queens, nucs, and packages, additionally, most seem to be sourcing their stock from georgia, .
    Yea... there is a reason they are coming from GA... very southern GA at that! There is also a reason I get my oranges from FLA and not NC.... check it out.
    “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled.” - The Quran

  4. #64
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: I would like to be a commercial beek

    Best appropraite advice for where Guy is geographically and this time in his life.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  5. #65
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Stillwell, KS
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    645

    Default Re: I would like to be a commercial beek

    I find this thread totally depressing.

    Working towards 300 colonies myself to supplement retirement income. Would like to think I could net 30 - 40 k annually.


    Don

  6. #66
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    Jun 2010
    Location
    dennison MN
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    108

    Default Re: I would like to be a commercial beek

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    I find this thread totally depressing.

    Working towards 300 colonies myself to supplement retirement income. Would like to think I could net 30 - 40 k annually.


    Don
    seems like we need a positive story here. so look at me for example. last year was my first year owning my OWN hives. for the last 8 years i have worked for a 2000+ outfit. that is where i learned everything i need to know how to run a commercial outfit.

    last year 200 hives made me just over 24k and i spent every penny right back on the bees. this year im at 400 i have a little debt. like say 20k. but i expect to recover that no problem and have cash flow to expand and operate next year. i should also say i didnt go to cali for pollination i went to texas to build bees. so my profit was from bulk honey sales alone.

    i still work part time for the other outfit. but i can tell you i would never have been able to do any of this if it wasnt for the things i learned and did while working for a large outfit for many years. it is all about the secrets and tricks of the trait. if you think you can just jump into commercial beekeeping you can just as well figure you can walk into a hospital and preform surgery. there is just to many things to know and things that can go wrong. i remember my first days riding around with my old boss that is retired now. i would think to myself how could i ever have a bee business on my own. there is just so much to it. but with some help of some real great people and with the good prices being paid right now it started to happen.

    its not always a bad story there are lots of great stories. like for me this spring was great. after 8 springs of being the guy who loaded out of east texas i got to load up my semi jump in the semi and wake up in MN and unload my new flatbed texas truck and unload my bees and i was home for another year. no better feeling!!!! exept then it snowed a foot and i was driving around feeding and shoveling snow in may. that was a new one.

    if its so easy why isnt every one doing it. after years of sore backs and wishing you were rich faster in life you will really understand what that line means.

  7. #67
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    Garland, Bladen County, NC, USA
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    Default Re: I would like to be a commercial beek

    Quote Originally Posted by mnbeekeeper View Post

    last year 200 hives made me just over 24k and i spent every penny right back on the bees. this year im at 400 i have a little debt. like say 20k. but i expect to recover that no problem and have cash flow to expand and operate next year.
    So you grossed 24K and put 24K back in.... so your profit was 0. This confusion over gross and net maybe part of our problem on this thread.
    “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled.” - The Quran

  8. #68
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    Jun 2010
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    dennison MN
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    108

    Default Re: I would like to be a commercial beek

    never claimed to profit anything but i do see where your coming from. i said the bees made 24k. and i spent it all back on them. im broke and waiting for a crop. hope it comes.

  9. #69
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    Feb 2012
    Location
    Crescent City, Ca USA
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    24

    Default Re: I would like to be a commercial beek

    $175.00 to maintain a hive per year? Not trying to be condecending, just think it sounds a little high.

  10. #70
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    May 2009
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    Garland, Bladen County, NC, USA
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    Default Re: I would like to be a commercial beek

    Quote Originally Posted by Level 4 View Post
    $175.00 to maintain a hive per year? Not trying to be condecending, just think it sounds a little high.
    Remember we are not talking about a hive setting in your backyard - we are talking about a commercial's hive and that is going to include Sub, syrup, mite treatments, and the many miles that hive will travel in a year.
    “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled.” - The Quran

  11. #71
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    Apr 2009
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    Issaquah,WA,USA
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    Default Re: I would like to be a commercial beek

    Quote Originally Posted by Level 4 View Post
    $175.00 to maintain a hive per year? Not trying to be condescending, just think it sounds a little high.
    That is low from what I am told by some big guys. Bottom line is grow slow have a dream. We are just giving you reality and you probably don't want to hear or understand it. Bee keepers are not rich and getting there is tough. Start with a million in your bee business and have a spare million so you can still be a millionaire.

  12. #72
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: I would like to be a commercial beek

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    I find this thread totally depressing.

    Working towards 300 colonies myself to supplement retirement income. Would like to think I could net 30 - 40 k annually.


    Don
    Me too. But why be depressed? It isn't worth the depression.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  13. #73
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: I would like to be a commercial beek

    Quote Originally Posted by Level 4 View Post
    $175.00 to maintain a hive per year? Not trying to be condecending, just think it sounds a little high.
    Feel free to tell us what it costs you. $175.00 may well be high, it's a ballpark figure.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  14. #74
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    Apr 2005
    Location
    Omaha, NE
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    263

    Default Re: I would like to be a commercial beek

    Quote Originally Posted by mnbeekeeper View Post
    never claimed to profit anything but i do see where your coming from. i said the bees made 24k. and i spent it all back on them. im broke and waiting for a crop. hope it comes.
    mnbeekeeper hit the nail on the head that is the perfect example of what it will be like starting out!!!
    AKA BEEMAN800

  15. #75
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    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: I would like to be a commercial beek

    A few points:
    Labor includes your own labor, whether you are paying someone else or yourself or both, time has value. Your kids need shoes too.

    $175 per hive? The only way you should be getting much over about $100 per hive is if you are buying a lot of replacement bees and those you should be raising yourself.

    If you arent directly funding depreciation (virtually no small start ups can afford to) you should at least be aware that at some point equipment needs replaced and its a risky situation to constantly operate one blown truck engine away from being broke. Its difficult to put a price tag on lost productivity and potential lost income when equipment goes down.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  16. #76
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    May 2009
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    Garland, Bladen County, NC, USA
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    Default Re: I would like to be a commercial beek

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post

    $175 per hive? The only way you should be getting much over about $100 per hive is if you are buying a lot of replacement bees and those you should be raising yourself.
    .
    Are you factoring in the cost of transporting those bees.... from TX to CA to SD all in one year? I am thinking that your total expenditures divided by number of hives is the way to arrive at cost per hive.
    “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled.” - The Quran

  17. #77
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: I would like to be a commercial beek

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Suchan View Post
    mnbeekeeper hit the nail on the head that is the perfect example of what it will be like starting out!!!
    What did he live on himself than? Or is that where his debt came from?
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  18. #78
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    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: I would like to be a commercial beek

    Quote Originally Posted by hpm08161947 View Post
    Are you factoring in the cost of transporting those bees.... from TX to CA to SD all in one year? I am thinking that your total expenditures divided by number of hives is the way to arrive at cost per hive.
    All my trucking per year is around $20. The fuel I burn in my trucks amounts to another $5 per hive. I am sure tires, vehicle repairs, depreciation and insurance would add another 5 to $10.
    Hmmm. I did give myself a little wiggle room by saying "much over $100"
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  19. #79
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    Oct 2009
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    Panama City, Florida, USA
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    554

    Default Re: I would like to be a commercial beek

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    All my trucking per year is around $20. The fuel I burn in my trucks amounts to another $5 per hive. I am sure tires, vehicle repairs, depreciation and insurance would add another 5 to $10.
    Hmmm. I did give myself a little wiggle room by saying "much over $100"

    I will venture out on a limb here and say there is no such person as a commercial beekeeper. By the time someone reaches that magical number of hives currently considered “commercial”, somewhere above 1000, they are probably no longer beekeepers but business managers. I would imagine the beekeeping enterprise owner spends less than 10% of his time actually working in the field with the hives he owns. As you go up in hive count, the percentage of overall time you spend on your beekeeping enterprise consists more and more of business management and less and less of “beekeeping”. You go from puttering around in hives to dealing with transportation, personnel, taxes, regulations, negotiations, etc.

    Also, when you talk cost per hive to maintain a hive, each person includes different things in that number. Are you including just the things that the normal hive needs to survive (extra frames/boxes/medication) or are you taking all the expenses you incurred in your enterprise and dividing it by the number of hives you have? A meaningless number to anyone but yourself as you are the only one that knows what it includes.

    Correct me if I am wrong.

  20. #80
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: I would like to be a commercial beek

    Okay. Yes, you are wrong. I am a commercial beekeeper at 500 hives. My livelihood and family is supported by beekeeping. I manage all of my hives.

    A friend of mine owns 3500 colonies and has employees, yet he works hives almost literally every day. He doesn't manipulate combs in every hive, but he works the yards right along w/ his employees and his wife who works hand in hand w/ him. He has employees who work in the honey house extracting and bottling and distributing.

    David Hackenberg and Davey Jr work their hives, thousands, maybe you've seen them in some of the many movies these last cpl of years moving bees to pollination.

    Those two guys do all of the things you mentioned and work the hives themselves too. Supering taking off honey, medicating, feeding, moving, splitting/making nucs, etc.

    Costs of maintaining hives include medication and treatments, feed, protein patties, labor, transportation, queens, equipment, etc. all to do w/ having a hive ready to pollinate crops and produce a honey crop.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

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