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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
    2,011

    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
    2,011

    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
    1,454

    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 02:00 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
    4,646

    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 02:00 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
    4,326

    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
    2,560

    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
    6,650

    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
    Mar 2012
    Location
    groveton tx
    Posts
    163

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    We run around 7000 and gross over seven figures. Profit isn't all that impressive because of all the luxuries we can now buy. But I know commercial guys that are now failing cuz of dead hives. Have a plan for a major die off.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    New York City, NY
    Posts
    4,317

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    Is anyone going to tell him that he needs to gross at least $300 per hive, and his net is only going to be around $60 per hive?

    And, if his operation isn't growing at between 7 and 15% per year, he's slipping backwards.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
    Posts
    3,302

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    Cwoods, post 7 & 9 are from well managed outfits with sound advice.


    P.S. it could be raining honey outside and some keepers would have there barrels turned upside down.
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Marble, North Carolina
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post
    Is anyone going to tell him that he needs to gross at least $300 per hive, and his net is only going to be around $60 per hive?

    And, if his operation isn't growing at between 7 and 15% per year, he's slipping backwards.
    Really? For every 100 hives the net is 6 grand? So for a 500 hive yard you would only net 30 grand.....hmmmm.......you sure...?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Owen, WI, USA
    Posts
    2,560

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    Keeping bees alive isn't an impossible goal, we've been doing it for over 30 years, some years better than others. But, yes, it is just good business planning to allow for bad years, they do happen.
    We gross somewhere between $375-450 per colony, including honey production, almond pollination, spring package/nuc/colony sales. We are in an area with pretty good honey crop averages and good spring retail bee prices. We net more than $60 per colony; we net that from almonds alone, not even counting the surplus bees produced. But this is after building up over years. We didn't start with big expensive equipment; built up paying cash as we could afford; plowing just about everything back into the business. We didn't buy a forklift til we were in the neighborhood of 1200 colonies, John's bad back is testament to that. Definitely harder to do with a debt load, but I know several younger/newer beekeepers successfully doing just that. Bet they still end up with a bad back.
    Sheri

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Owen, WI, USA
    Posts
    2,560

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Jarrett View Post
    Cwoods, post 7 & 9 are from well managed outfits with sound advice.
    As is post 15

    Sheri

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Marble, North Carolina
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    Thanks Ms. Sheri

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    New York City, NY
    Posts
    4,317

    Default Re: Inspiration to keep going

    Quote Originally Posted by CWoods View Post
    Really? For every 100 hives the net is 6 grand? So for a 500 hive yard you would only net 30 grand.....hmmmm.......you sure...?
    For 500 hives, you would need $250K in total assets to run it.

    But, we're just 'ball parking' if you don't have that yet.

    You have to determine how long would it take you to build up to that target amount.

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