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  1. #1
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    Default Queens are relatively cheaper now than before Varroa????

    http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm

    Assuming a price of $7.50 in 1975 adjusting for inflation a queen should have gone for $32.49 in 2013 in US$. Can anybody verify the cost of queens in 1975? I have heard anecdotal reports of $6-$8 bucks per queen.

    This seems counter intuitive to me. How could Varroa, CCD, and a tighter bee supply contribute to relatively cheaper queens? I feel an economics lesson coming on. Note the demand curve for queens should be relatively inelastic. There are no substitutes for queens. This means demand should not fluctuate very much with price increase. Efficiency in production could be a possible factor. Are we really that much better at making queens now than in the 70's or is actually more difficult now? Are there more or fewer suppliers now?

    Was debating putting this in the general bee forum. Beekeepers often under value their pollination services (see some of Burgett's studies); have we made the same mistake with queens??
    Last edited by JBJ; 01-09-2014 at 09:05 AM. Reason: punctuation
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Walker, Alabama, USA
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    915

    Default Re: Queens are relatively cheaper now than before Varroa????

    I don't know the answer to this. I do know that when I started out in '91, the first thing I did was lose my queen. The replacement from Weaver was $11--I still have the receipt!

    Rusty
    Rusty Hills Farm -- home of AQHA A Rusty Zipper & Rusty's Bees ( LC and T)

  3. #3
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    Nov 2011
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Queens are relatively cheaper now than before Varroa????

    > There are no substitutes for queens.

    In a literal sense that statement is absolutely correct.

    But, the commercial price for a queen is driven by the interaction of demand (those wishing to purchase queens) and supply (those wishing to sell queens).

    If more beekeepers raise their own queens (not offered for sale), then the demand curve is altered and the intersection of the demand and supply curves occurs at a lower price point.


    Of course, economics is the dismal science, and some would say not science at all!
    Graham
    -- The real problem is not precise language, it's clear language. - Richard Feynman

  4. #4
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    Jan 2003
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    Suffolk, VA
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    Default Re: Queens are relatively cheaper now than before Varroa????

    Ouch! $11 in 1991 is only $18.82 in 2013. All kidding aside, I'm not too sure how much credibility to give these inflation calculators wrt queen bee prices. I think you'd be better off judging the current market and making +/- adjustments based upon your product. Just my 2 cents (2014 money, of course, which would have been only 1 cent in 1975 )
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  5. #5
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    May 2009
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    Flora,IL
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    Default Re: Queens are relatively cheaper now than before Varroa????

    Shhhhhhh,, what the heck are you trying to do?? you know those guys read these post!

  6. #6
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Queens are relatively cheaper now than before Varroa????

    JBJ (the OP) is a queen breeder and seller.
    Graham
    -- The real problem is not precise language, it's clear language. - Richard Feynman

  7. #7
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    Jan 2005
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    Southern Oregon
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    Default Re: Queens are relatively cheaper now than before Varroa????

    Quote Originally Posted by Rader Sidetrack View Post
    JBJ (the OP) is a queen breeder and seller.
    Very true.

    Using the same calculator for a gallon of milk which cost about $1.57 in 1975 would be $6.80 so perhaps milk is not a good parallel and maybe the inflation calculator is fallible as average price for milk was about $3.48 in 2013(there are some who predict much higher prices in the near future). One could very well argue there have been much more efficiency gains in the dairy industry since 1975 with breeding and production methods than there has been in apiculture.

    To know what the actual current supply and demand for queens was would be great. Demand seems very strong from my perspective and seems to the the consensus among other producers I have spoken with. I would be willing to bet queen bee economics closely parallel pollination economics. Rental prices have not followed crop value very closely historically. Burgett's pollination survey and articles make a strong argument that beekeepers have historically undervalued their pollination services and I would be willing to argue they same could be true of queens and honey.

    If the demand curve for queens is relatively inelastic then an increase in price should not negatively affect demand? Econ class was a way long time ago.

    I would argue that demand for queens should be increasing as they are an integral component of our food production system as vast monoculture farming acreage increases and wipes out wild pollinator habitat; this is all in the face of an ever increasing population that like to eat.

    Maybe all beekeepers should get paid better?
    Last edited by JBJ; 01-09-2014 at 01:09 PM. Reason: typo/omission
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  8. #8
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    Dec 2008
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    syracuse n.y.
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    Default Re: Queens are relatively cheaper now than before Varroa????

    Quote Originally Posted by JBJ View Post
    Maybe all beekeepers should get paid better?
    sound good to me. the part that you would have to factor in, when I first started with bees, I could get them from one person locally, or have them shipped in. I don't live in that area any more, but being 350 miles away, right now I know of the top of my head 7 or 8 people I could get queens from and if I really looked around could come up with alot more. with the internet, sites like this, and the kits available doesn't take very long to raise your own. Heck I gave my friend my work sheet, bought him a jenter, showed him twice how to do it and the man went crazy raising queens, and he's 77 years young. Just look at the commercial beeks on here that now raise their own, then you have Miska out of florida shipping queen cells all over the place, why would I buy a queen that may or may not be mated very well, when I can order queen cells for $5.00 shipped in and make sure there are plenty of drones to mate with them. just saying then we look at milk, factor in all the subsidies that the farmers get, add that to the price(because you do pay it) and then come up with the real price of milk. bet you will come up with a price that would switch you to some other beverage.
    mike syracuse ny
    I went to bed mean, and woke up meaner. Marshal Dillon

  9. #9
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Queens are relatively cheaper now than before Varroa????

    "Fluid" Milk is not a good historical comparison as the price of fluid milk is artificially manipulated by direct government action.

    I could argue that the price of queens is somewhat influenced (in a macro sense) by the price of honey and its substitutes. The rise of rise in the quantity of HFCS produced since the 1980s and its influence on domestic sugar prices inevitably affects honey prices, and in a roundabout way, queen prices.

    Note that queens are only sold to other beekeepers. If the prices of queens rise, those beekeepers buying queens will be poorer.
    Graham
    -- The real problem is not precise language, it's clear language. - Richard Feynman

  10. #10
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    Dec 2006
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    St. Albans, Vermont
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    Default Re: Queens are relatively cheaper now than before Varroa????

    In 1974, my first packages were $10.50 delivered to Vermont. Queens were $7.00. Honey in drums was $.50/lb.

    Now, here, packaged bees are $100, queens $30, and honey $2.25 in the drum.

    Honey price increased 450%. Bees by 950%. Queens by 428%.

  11. #11
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    May 2009
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    Flora,IL
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    Default Re: Queens are relatively cheaper now than before Varroa????

    Well here is an Idea... get one of those TF wizards to share his genetic line thats bullet proof (several swear buy it) and 50.00 a queen is absolutly no problem.....

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Roy, Wa
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    Default Re: Queens are relatively cheaper now than before Varroa????

    I have a facebook page that attracts quite a few followers. All year long I post photos and information about my program here, genetics, experiments, tips and maintenence for local/seasonal management. My followers see my success, my healthy hives and all the possibilities that go along with it. It is what they strive to have for themselves. and by the time they buy something from me, they feel like they know me and my product well.

    So when I offer my queens for $40.00 each, I have no problem selling every one I can raise. Many people tell me I am selling them too cheap.

    I do offer volume discounts, but generally my customers are hobbyists that only need a few, one at a time, usually at a moments notice. I only sell locally and my queens are never banked.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-VW_PMRHCs

    Last edited by Lauri; 01-09-2014 at 05:01 PM.

  13. #13
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Queens are relatively cheaper now than before Varroa????

    Best I can tell, the issue for you guys is China.

    Here, queens go for 35 or 40 bucks, bog standard queen. But we do not allow honey imports so our honey does not have to compete on the domestic market with cheap imports plus our exports get good dollars too. So beekeepers can afford to pay for a queen.

    I suspect that in a country where you have to compete with cheap third world imports, the price of a queen is dictated by what a beekeeper can afford to pay plus still make a decent profit off that hive.

    For a hobby beekeeper the pleasure of having a really great queen outweighs the cost. But looking at the massive and "industrial" scale & methods of US commercial beekeepers I would imagine they would be expecting queens at a pretty competitive price. I also understand US queen breeders have access to cheap Mexican labor? As labor is a high proportion of the cost to make a queen, this may also allow production at a lower cost than someone like me would be able to do them for.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  14. #14
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    Flora,IL
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    Default Re: Queens are relatively cheaper now than before Varroa????

    acces to cheap Mexican labor is an interesting term... I can tell you many of the larger guys have Mexican crews. The real issue is not the cost of that labor, but the quality. Most of the Mexican workers are highly skilled and dedicated. and are paid a decent wage. Those crews though can be relied on to get the job done and not leave it half way.

  15. #15
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    Hamilton, Alabama
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    Default Re: Queens are relatively cheaper now than before Varroa????

    I purchased queens for $6 each in 1977 from Glenn Fowler who had been the president of American Bee Breeders Association in the 1960's. No shipping was involved, I called in advance, he caged the queens, I picked them up an hour or less later. I still remember carrying those queens home in my car and installing them in colonies built from swarms I had captured. In 1985, he raised the price to $8 each because of the rampant inflation at that time.

    It is worth noting that he was the most scrupulously conscientious queen breeder I've met. His queens were outstandingly good Italians.
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Saverton, MO
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    52

    Default Re: Queens are relatively cheaper now than before Varroa????

    I've been reading A.I. Root's ABCs & XYZs of Bee Culture. In the preface he writes that in 1865 he bought a queen from Rev. Langstroth for $20.00. Therefore...we should be selling queens for $295.74

  17. #17
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Queens are relatively cheaper now than before Varroa????

    >Therefore...we should be selling queens for $295.74

    That was an Italian when they were hard to come by, which would probably be the equivelant of our "breeder queens". Yes, that's about right...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  18. #18
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: Queens are relatively cheaper now than before Varroa????

    Equating a queen to the value of 10 pounds of honey has been a pretty close benchmark to the bottom end pricing through the years for quantity purchases. Obviously, though, supply and demand is the final determinant.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Boston, Massachusetts, USA
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    36

    Default Re: Queens are relatively cheaper now than before Varroa????

    This is from CC Miller; Fifty years among the Bees.

    "In 1866 I got my first Italian queen, paying R. R.
    Murphy $6.00 for her, and the following year I paid
    $10.00 for another to Mrs. Ellen S. Tupper, who was at
    one time editor of a bee-journal."

    That is some steep year to year inflation.

  20. #20
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    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    Default Re: Queens are relatively cheaper now than before Varroa????

    In 1969 (when I was 13 [acuially I would turn 13 later that year] - I'd been keeping bees for 3 years) I received a queen from Hawaii. I was in Lompoc, Californis, she was in a 3-hole wooden cage, with candy plug and attendants. A postcard was attached to the cage with postage and addresses. She arrived just fine and with shipping included, the cost was less than $4.00.

    It's a vivid memory, as the postal carrier rang our doorbell and hand delivered her, directly to me. I remember holding her and staring at them for several minutes, and being amazed that she arrived so quickly after I ordered her, and it was so wonderful (this was the very first queen I had received, without being part of a package of bees). I also remember wondering how the queen could, so easily be shipped in such a manner, yet be perfectly safe. I used her to make my first split. I only had one colony of Starline bees, at the time.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 01-10-2014 at 09:14 AM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

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