Re: Inspiration to keep going
It is also worth defining what a "commercial" beekeeper is and does. 100 colonies is approximately the trigger point at which serious money has to be spent on automation and heavy equipment. It will cost about $70,000 to cross this boundary. Second boundary is at roughly 2000 colonies. This is about as many as one person can manage given reasonable levels of automation and some seasonal help. Multiple products have to be produced and sold to make this operation profitable. Once you pass 2000 colonies it will take about one additional full time employee for each 2000 colonies added to the operation.
A safe figure to use for estimating the "cost to play" in a 2000 colony operation is $500 per colony. This includes the cost of the bees, equipment, trucks, feed, honeyhouse, etc. So a 2000 colony operation is roughly $1,000,000 to set up. Yearly maintenance will run roughly $70 per colony for this size operation. Note that "maintenance" does not include things like gas, transportation, fees, etc. It is ONLY the upkeep of the colony.
NW Alabama, 47 years, 22 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest