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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Marble, North Carolina
    Posts
    18

    Default Inspiration to keep going

    Hello all!

    I finished working for a commercial guy this past year and this year I am on my own.

    I noticed there are some people (i call them beesource trolls) that always talk like there is no money in beekeeping...ever.

    Is there anyway some of the commercial guys here could post some of their numbers...like number of hives and income for the year.

    I really want some hope that I can do what I love and actually provide for my family. This would help me see the bigger picture for sure. I haven't quit my day job yet...but that is my eventual goal. I love beekeeping and would love to do this for a living. Thanks guys for your time!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
    Posts
    1,717

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    I doubt you are going to get many if any to post what they make a year with number of colonies they have. That's a pretty personal question into someones business.

    This I will tell you.

    I have been running ~400 colonies and it makes us enough money, my wife works the business full time and actually got a pay raise when she quit her 9-5 job. I still haven't quit my daytime job.

    Is there money to be made? YES.
    Is it easy money to be made? NO.
    Is there easier money to be made? YES
    Like anything else in agriculture. Money can be had but you need to work hard for it and you need to have a good business mind to run it the best you can.

    What else can be said about it. As far as actual monies I made for the year, thats going to stay between my wife, IRS and me.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Marble, North Carolina
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    Thanks BMAC!

    I really appreciate your response. I totally don't want to be invasive...I know the question is but I just am tired of people saying beekeeping is a money pit and you'll never recoup your investments. I have bought some hives and nucs this year. I am not expecting anything this year but to learn.

    Thanks again BMAC for your response! Congrats on your wife beekeeping full time! I hope yall prosper

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
    Posts
    1,717

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    I had a beekeeper in Ga tell me the same thing. He has actually convinced others in the area the same thing. He tried his hand at the commercial level and failed at it.

    Personally I think its all in the persons attitude about life and motivation to truly make your own money.

    It is aweful expensive to buy all the equipment and machines. If you are going to do migratory beekeeping (ie pollination) start on pallets. Make them standard beekeeping pallets and rent a skid steer to move them. I rented a skidsteer and trailer for the first 3 years I was on migratory equipment and still occassionally rent one so I dont have to drag mine down the road.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    Yes there is money in bees some years and others you spend more than you make. Equipment and fuel will be your biggest expenses. If you build as you go, I think you will do better. Some guys make a very good living at it and others go bottom up. Your attitude and making smart business decisions are key. I agree with BMAC . But remember every year will not be a bumper crop. Plan for the slow years as well as the good years

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts
    1,291

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    People usually don't post income and their formula on how to make specific numbers. They may post a working plan.
    By the number of folks that have been commercial for years I expect there is enough money in bees. I do get the impression that one needs to be savvy and good with business to make a go of it. The successful commercial beeks would likely be successful with any business they chose to develop and run
    Last edited by JohnK and Sheri; 04-07-2014 at 01:00 PM. Reason: Unnecessary quote
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,371

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    Ha ha! Bet none of the naysayers are commercial guys. I've done this for 40 years and with honey prices, pollination rates and bee and queen prices at historic highs, these are the best of times.
    Last edited by JohnK and Sheri; 04-07-2014 at 01:00 PM. Reason: unnecessary quote
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,967

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    But Mr. Lyon! Kim Flottum said all your bees are dead and we are all gonna die!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Owen, WI, USA
    Posts
    2,551

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    As Jim states,this is as great time to be in bees. Quick return on investment and equipment holds value very well. Learn how to keep them alive and the money will follow.
    Sheri

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    New York City, NY
    Posts
    4,317

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    CWoods:

    A lot of the commercials have other ag. related operations up and running before they get into commercial beekeeping.

    So, they've got quite an advantage over someone who is starting with just a handful of hives.

    You could try to get an FSA loan when ready.

    But, you'll need to prove to yourself first that the take home pay is worth the effort, and you'll need to pay all expenses while expanding at the same time.

    If you can do that, then it's possible.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,927

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    trick is to learn how to keep them alive, then all life is good. when they die... the real trick is how to keep going after that point.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    New York City, NY
    Posts
    4,317

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    The trick is to get back your initial investment, take home, and bankroll for the next operation BEFORE they die.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Skiff, Alberta, CA
    Posts
    404

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    CWoods, what is the name of the commercial operation that you worked for?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Skiff, Alberta, CA
    Posts
    404

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    Well if you love the no risk no reward words then I think you should borrow all the money that you can and get as big as you can as fast as you can. If I were you I would strive for 1000 hives to start off and go from there.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,927

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    Quote Originally Posted by Haraga View Post
    Well if you love the no risk no reward words then I think you should borrow all the money that you can and get as big as you can as fast as you can. If I were you I would strive for 1000 hives to start off and go from there.
    ha ha
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    New York City, NY
    Posts
    4,317

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    Plenty of folks have used FSA loans to get things started.

    However, I would choose a far more manageable starting number of colonies.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Farmington, New Mexico
    Posts
    6,574

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    Quote Originally Posted by CWoods View Post
    I finished working for a commercial guy this past year and this year I am on my own.
    Did you work the journals, the ledgers, and the financial statements? That part of the business is at least as critical as knowing how to assess the needs of a yard full of hives.

    I used to do what I called "train wreck accounting". I would go into to a business and set up or clean up their books for them, and in many cases transition them from manual systems to computerized systems. These were typically small businesses owned by guys who took off on their own after becoming very good at whatever their particular skill or interest was.

    Almost always, the story played out the same. Guy gets a job as a laborer with a construction company, works up to carpenter, then foreman, then decides he can do better on his own. Starts his own company and immediately forgets that he's no longer a carpenter, he's a manager. A businessman (or woman).

    He can't keep the books, and can't tell if the cute little thing he hired to keep them for him is doing it correctly. Sooner than later he can't make payroll even though the work seems to be coming in and things start to tumble.

    I saw it over and over. People who were really good at something but had no clue about the back room where the money got counted and the bills got paid. Don't kid yourself into thinking that you can buy a copy of Quickbooks and plunk it on your laptop and call it good. You have to really understand the debits and the credits and what they mean. You have to be able to read and interpret financials if you want to know how your business is doing, just like you have to be able to pop a cover off of a hive and read the bees and the comb in order to tell how that colony is doing. I'll never forget getting a guy set up who had built 5 nice big homes each year for over 15 years. He did ok, but knew something wasn't right. After I got a nice job cost system up and running he was able to see that of the 5 homes he finished each year, three lost money, and the other two models carried him. He dropped the losers and almost immediately tripled his net.

    By contrast, I've also seen people who were only mediocre at what they did who were able to prosper because they knew where every penny came from and where it went and why. They could spot trouble before it became fatal and adjust.

    Go for it, and good luck. Just keep in mind you're transitioning from a beekeeper to a business manager.
    Nobody ruins my day without my permission, and I refuse to grant it...

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
    Posts
    1,717

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    Thats a nice write up about financials Barry. Speaking of quickbooks, that is the system my wife wants to use. I would prefer just writing my own database/software to track all the costs and setup my own trend analysis with it, but she would rather I concentrate on the bees.

    Only thing I have to say is those pretty little things generally dont have a clue about financials but are fun to look at and can enter the data into the system somewhat accurately. Not hardly worth their pay.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Skiff, Alberta, CA
    Posts
    404

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    I have an agreement with my accountant. She doesn't keep bees and I don't keep books. It works out just fine. I always know when I'm out of money because the bank will send a letter every time.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Cattaraugus,New York, USA
    Posts
    345

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    Quote Originally Posted by CWoods View Post
    Just curious, do yall build your own hives to save money? The hives out of the catalog seem pricey.
    Some make their own, others shop around And buy massive quantities at a time to get volume discount. Then there are shops that dont specialize in beekeeping items that make boxes and such. Around me there are a few different Amish woodworkers that will make a box for about 1/2 what it would cost from one of the big companies.

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