Quote Originally Posted by Edymnion View Post
This is true of any business, and its one of the first things they tell you if you're smart enough to actually get professional advice when starting a new business.
Expect and plan for 5 years of losses. On average, any new venture will fail miserably for 5 years before it starts breaking even and turning a profit. If you can't afford to lose the money for those 5 years, you can't afford to start your own business yet.
I guess I would agree w/ both of you, if that makes any sense. Fortunately I had a job to pay the family bills while I ran 500 to 800 colonies. The job got in the way at times. Bee work got postponed when I had to go away from home on the job.
As I have mentioned in other Threads having some Small Business Education is, in my opinion, as important as Beekeeping knowledge. I didn't have the discipline to establish good bookeeping practices and think I should have.
Build up to Sideliner numbers , 200 or 300 colonies, for a while and see if you think you can take the plunge into the 500 range comfortably. You can always sell off back to sideliner numbers.
Mark, I know you went to the same school I did and got a degree in beekeeping technology, so you can relate to this: My 21 year old son who goes to college is in partnership with me working the bees, and after doing so for a couple years he told me that I pretty much wasted my time and money going to college to learn about raising bees, that there is nothing that difficult about it, and everything you need to learn to run a bee business can be learned on the job. How do you like that? I don't know, sometimes I wonder if there might be a sliver of truth to what he said.
"I should say that beekeeping is a good business to let alone, for the same amount of brains and energy that will make you a living at beekeeping will make more than a living at almost any other business."--C.C. Miller, A Thousand answers to beekeeping questions 1917 edition Page 18
From one year to the next the difference is huge. One year with a bumper crop I've made 200 pounds per hive. In a bad year I've fed them and harvested nothing. 100 hives being fed 50 pounds of sugar each is 5,000 pounds of sugar (plus depreciation of equipment) as a loss. 100 hives at 200 pounds of honey per hive, is 20,000 pounds of honey (minus depreciation of the equipment). True, most years are somewhere between those extremes, but still erratic. I think it's best to have other sources of income to mitigate the ups and downs. For one think you can sell bees and queens to mitigate it some. But diversifying your income to not be dependent on just the bees having a good year, is wise.
Michael, 100 hives is still hobby beekeeping if you ask me, I think 500 hives is starting to be a full time business. In my area, 50-60 lbs./hive is a poor year, which we had this year, although I did have hives produce much more than that. Even at that kind of production for 500 hives, you still have a crop of 25-30 thousand pounds, sell it all wholesale in buckets or drums and your looking at over $65,000, not profit of course, but assuming all 500 hives are paid for already, that's not too awful bad. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't want to have to live off that kind of income regularly, so more hives than 500 would be more likely for me to make a living taking into consideration the occasional bad year or two.
Actually he is probably more right than wrong. I wouldn't trade my two years at OSU/ATI for anything. I had a good time, I learned that what I wanted to do for a livelihood wasn't a fluke, the people I met, Dr. Jim Tew, Bee Classes, going to see Kelley Co and meeting Mr. Kelley,etc., etc.
When I finished and went looking for work nobody wanted me. One guy actually told me that since I went to College I wasn't worth a darn I was spoiled. He didn't say so, but he wanted strong hard working guys who didn't know anything and didn't want to know anything. Someone he could pay little and work hard. He had a guy working for him 20 years who couldn't tell the difference between a queen and a drone. Strong back and weak minds.
What he is wrong about is learning the business side by just doing it. Had I the chance to do it over again I would have gone to B School like my friends in Wmsbg,VA thought I meant when I told them I was going to go to B School in OH. Business School. There is a lot about business I don't know to this day. Getting by though.
I hope your son works hard and learns bees and bee business.
Ok I have a scenario and would like your options.
Just a bit of background, I am 30 years old, and live in southern IL. Right now I live in town but we plan on moving to a rural location with a few acres of land next fall. Right now I have some friends that live in the country that I can place a few hives on their property to start with.
I am now self employed and earn a decent living working only 15-20 hours a week. Previous to becoming self employed I worked at a factory for 12 years. At this factory I worked 50-60 hours every week. The work was all hard manual labor and was mostly outside in the elements. We worked in 100 degree summers and 10 degree winters with no heat. If it was raining you worked and just got wet. I am throwing this out there to say that I am accustomed to hard outside work.
I left this job to do my current job which is raising feeder insects to sell to the reptile community all around the US. I work 15-20 hours a week and make about twice what I did at my previous job. I have a website (www.kimbrellscoldblood.com) that I sell from and ship all around the country.
I enjoy working and going from 50+ hours a week down to 20 has been a big change for me. I have lots of "down time" and have looked at several different ideas to make some income using this time. Raising bees is very interesting, I mean I already have some insect knowledge I am not expecting or even wanting to make enough money to consider it as "liveable income" but more as "disposable income" if that makes sense.
I want to get started in raising bees to become a sideliner to make a profit. Right now I have zero experience in beekeeping but have been reading and researching like crazy. My thinking is that I have an income that fully pays the bills so I can accept that bee keeping for a profit has its ups and downs depending on the weather, crop, disease, ect. There will be years that I break even or loose a bit which isn't a huge deal. Other years a good haul will make a nice profit. I plan to start small to get my feet wet and then increase.
I have read this entire thread with most of the replies basically stating that there is no profit to very little profit in raising bees. I have the work ethic to put in the hard work to do the job. I also have the management and marketing skills needed to make sales of products. With these two qualities I believe that I cant turn a profit that will supplement my main income.
Another big benefit of starting to raise bees is the ability to get pollen. I actually make and grind my own feed for my feeder business. I like to add pollen to the feed as it helps my insects to grow faster and healthier. The down side is to buy pollen on the scale that I need it is rather expensive. If I can harvest my own pollen to use for my other business there is a huge benefit to that.
Some of my questions are:
Since I am committed to my main company first for at least 20 hours a week how many hives can I "comfortably" manage with around 15 hours of beekeeping work a week?
I do have a wood shop and I am decent at wood working, I figured I would buy raw lumber and make my own boxes, bottom boards and inner covers to save some money. The frames on the other hand seem like a ton of work so I will probably just end up buying them unassembled from a supplier. Remember what I do have is time so I do not figure my labor charge in as much as someone else would. I understand my time is valuable but being realistic I enjoy working in my shop. I would rather be building bee hive boxes instead of sitting on the couch watching TV. Does this seem realistic to try and save some money?
It seems that diversifying the products that you sell is important to be able to generate a profit. If I was building my own nuc boxes to cut cost in selling nucs each year that would help also?
This is a start, ask any questions and I cant wait to hear your opinions.
-- too much competitive information --
Last edited by JWChesnut; 10-07-2013 at 08:37 AM.
You don't start out trying to make money right off the bat. It takes a few years to make what you have pay for itself.
If it gets you into a position to make income from enough hives so you can be a beekeeper full time or as a sideline while working a paying job, why is that a bad idea?
It worked for me. and I am not as good a business person or as hard a worker as others I have read of on these Forums. I bet Tim Ives could do well w/ many more hives bought w/ loans at the rate of 2%.
Why is that a bad idea? For someone willing to do whatever it takes?
I dont plan on taking out any loans but only spending what I can comfortably afford to loose. I would most likely reinvest any profits back into growing the business until it reached the point I wanted.
My main concern is how many hives I can comfortably take care of with 15 hours a week?
What two days do you have available? The same two each week? Or can you choose?
the problem is that everyone is selling there honey whole sale I can understand if your bees are medicated and feed to charge that amount.I charge 1.00 an ounce that's pure honey.no medicated bees or artificial feeding I have no problem selling it either give a small free jar 5 oz tell them try my honey then other honey they been buying and bet they spit it out.then next thing there back buying more honey one more satisfied customer and not questioning my price. quality honey that's my motto.
Mondays are out, that is my busy shipping day, it takes all day to get my orders out. I ship Tuesday and Wednesday so would only be able to put a few hours in those days. Thursday and Friday is generally my slower days where I do some catch up work so those days I have the most hours I can devote to other things.
I guess you will just have to find out yourself.
I run 200 hives and spend 3 hours a day every day (365) and then at least 10 on a weekend. If I miss a day I have to make it up. I have forklifts and trucks so I can move them easily and a wife that is a saint for putting up with me. I spent 50k+ this year on stuff. Might break even this year, not sure yet.
I am new, I hope to make some money
It all boils down to one answer Camel413, its farming and a farmer has good years and bad years and will always tell you he is broke....lol. A farmer is at mother natures mercy, as is a beekeeper, I was raised on the farm and have it in my blood and will always farm one way or another.
Good luck on your venture