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Thread: Free bees

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Mt.Laurel, NJ USA
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    102

    Default Re: Free bees

    the bees are free, what you do is your choice. the day you became a bk you took on certain responsiblities. one of them was to insure their safety, even if that means going out and buying equipment. i do this as a hobby, not looking for any reward or compensation (would be nice), i do it because i want too. i just picked up a swarm this past week, what a nice one it was. the exterminator was the next call they were gonna make. i gathered my stuff, sucked up the little darlings, put together a new home for them, put a reducer on the front entrance, so they don't get any ideas, checked on them yesterday and i am happy to report they are coming and going, nice big chunks of golden rod they are hauling in. and next year they better have some honey in there for me.

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  3. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    berkley county, WV
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    429

    Default Re: Free bees

    Free Bees are bees that cost nothing to get, no time, no material, no gas, no sweat, etc.

    Having said that, cheap bees are bees that cost you less than buying them would. I have never seen "Free Bees" I have found lots of cheap bees. Last spring, I picked up 12 swarms from within 30 miles of home, or work. They still cost me time, and a little gas, so they qualify as cheap bees. Cutouts are not cheap bees, nor are they free bees. I will spend at least 4 hours doing a cutout, and that is 4 hours of my time I could be doing other things, such as building boxes, frames, bases, outer covers, inner covers, etc.

    I am willing to do cutouts because, I am trying to use a ferel bee genetic for my base line. I want those bees from that wall, or that soffit area, or that tree. I want them, but I don't need them. I have enough to graph queens from, and drones to bread with. Every hour I "spend on that, I have to justify with my Lovely, Understanding, Kind, Sweet, Considerate, Caring wife. and we value time very highly. I figured up roughly that it will take $250.00 to get everything for a hive, and feed them to put on weight to survive winter. So any cutout I do, I am already investing this much into them. If they fail to survive winter, I am out half of it. I can't afford to loose that much money, so If you want me to remove them. I start at $250, and the longer it takes, or harder it is, it goes up. I am willing to go through a lot before I raise the prices, but If it is really miserable, I will.

    I value 4 hours with my wife and daughter for a minimum of $125, and ask you to help with the expenses I will face trying to get them through the first winter. Most exterminators won't touch honeybees around here. Something about a $5000 fine for knowingly killing ferel honeybees? I tell the people what they will face if they don't remove everything, and that If I suspect they were "sprayed" before I got there, my price just doubled. If they want me to see if I can help them that is fine, but if they want to handle it I don't want to be bothered to clean up after them.
    welcome to your new addiction!!

  4. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Motley County, Texas
    Posts
    507

    Default Re: Free bees

    I just had a phone conversation with an older man who wanted me to drive more than 50 miles one way, 100 miles round trip and do this cutout for free.

    He was shocked and said "I thought you'd just come out here for free just to get the bees". I smiled and said "I have a bee yard full of bees, I have all the bees I want. I do this as a service". He refused to budge and I politely held my ground.

    At one point he said "I've got all these old abandoned houses out in the country, you can have all the wild bees you want..."

    Bless his heart. I told him "I have to charge for my mileage, equipment and time". He just couldn't understand why I was going to charge him. Oh, by the way, I told him my fee for all the mileage, work, etc. was $100.00. I thought he was getting a deal at that price.

    Oh, well...

  5. #24
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    piedmont, KS
    Posts
    255

    Default Re: Free bees

    Quote Originally Posted by afss View Post
    Its not free, its an investment. you get the bees, you pay for them with labour, they in turn produce honey for you. its no different than you buying a nuc. you can pay 150 for a nuc (locally, no idea what they go for else where) or you can spend 3-5 hours of your time as sweat equity to get something better than a nuc.
    Again wheres the investment?? Come on now, 3 hours labor is = 150 dollars. 2 round trips in gas another 50 dollars. thats 200 dollars. 1 nuc = 100 dollars and 15 min to setup in a hive. that is a no brainer. The investment is in the 100 dollar nuc.



    Yes they are not free, you are working for them, but its not like they are costing you any more than if you had to obtain the bees from another method. If you want to charge and can thats great, I probably will charge for some of them too.
    ??? Again, time is money. I don't work for anyone for free.

    But thats not the point. Like it or not the point is you are NOT working for free, you are working for the bees that you remove,
    Ok your paying 200+ dollars labor for a 100 dollars worth of bees. Now i call that bad business practices.

    they have value, they are worth something and it can be quantified. If you plan to throw out the bees and comb honey etc then yes they have no value but if you hive them and make a colony from them they they have value. If you make cash ontop of that, great, but if you don't you still aren't working for free!
    You make absolutely no business sense.

    WHo in their right mind would pay 200 dollars for a 100 dollars worth of product.

  6. #25
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Greenhill, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    281

    Default Re: Free bees

    Quote Originally Posted by wolfpenfarm View Post
    Again wheres the investment?? Come on now, 3 hours labor is = 150 dollars. 2 round trips in gas another 50 dollars. thats 200 dollars. 1 nuc = 100 dollars and 15 min to setup in a hive. that is a no brainer. The investment is in the 100 dollar nuc.


    You make absolutely no business sense.

    WHo in their right mind would pay 200 dollars for a 100 dollars worth of product.
    OK, 3 hours for 150 bucks, 50 bucks an hour, i don't know what you do for a living but it isn't what i do! lets be realistic and say 25 an hour. so 25 an hour for 3 hours is 75 dollars, 50 bucks in gas ok, so now its 125.

    a nuc locally costs me 150 and i have to spend 40 in gas to go get it so thats 190 . So for me i am ahead by getting a cut out. so I am in my right mind i would suggest its you expecting to get 50 an hour for labour who is not.

    again i don't care if you charge, i think its great but the point is the bees have value. If thats all you get it can be comparable if you set a realistic hourly rate and then figure out how much gas you would need. So you can do the job for no money and still do well.
    ________________
    Scott Stackhouse

  7. #26
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    piedmont, KS
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    255

    Default Re: Free bees

    Quote Originally Posted by afss View Post
    OK, 3 hours for 150 bucks, 50 bucks an hour, i don't know what you do for a living but it isn't what i do! lets be realistic and say 25 an hour. so 25 an hour for 3 hours is 75 dollars, 50 bucks in gas ok, so now its 125.
    Don't sell yourself short. Unless there is a ton of beeks up there that undercut you. lets put it this way, 50 a hour is reasonable rate. No one else is going to go out there and cut out a hive of bees. Your pretty much it. And i have worked long enough to know that 50 a hour is cheap for my time. Like i said don't undersell your time or skill, you have to take that hour of time off your life,so get as much as you can for it.


    a nuc locally costs me 150 and i have to spend 40 in gas to go get it so thats 190 . So for me i am ahead by getting a cut out. so I am in my right mind i would suggest its you expecting to get 50 an hour for labour who is not.
    dang, your kidding? 100 here, and they pretty much delivered to me.

    again i don't care if you charge, i think its great but the point is the bees have value. If thats all you get it can be comparable if you set a realistic hourly rate and then figure out how much gas you would need. So you can do the job for no money and still do well.
    You know this year i turned away cutouts because they wouldn't pay, and i still barely got all the ones we had lined up done. I suppose i could get more if i didn't charge but where do i get the time to do them? For me it's a no brainer, take 150+ for a cutout plus the bees, plus the tree if its in a tree, or do it for free. hmmm not hard decision to make you know

  8. #27
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Greenhill, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    281

    Default Re: Free bees

    Quote Originally Posted by wolfpenfarm View Post
    dang, your kidding? 100 here, and they pretty much delivered to me.
    I wish, 150 is a 4 frame nuc in a cardboard nuc container, some charge taxes on that at for me its over an hour each way to get them. Our borders are closed, no bees in so its a captive market if you want them. Having said that i bought 2 nucs to start and have been splitting my own and catching swarms since that.

    I agree no one else is going to provide the service and there aren't a pile of beeks locally but also there are a lot who will just kill the bees and clean up later if faced with a bill.

    Down the road as i become busier i will probably charge for it, but for now its helping me grow my yard and learn. I admit its a fair bit of work and time and i suppose as i get to what ever number of hives i decide i want to max out at i too will have better things to do than spend hours trying to to get them out of a wall, not sure i would even attempt a tree.

    Don't get me wrong i see where you guys who charge are coming from, my only objection was to me it read as if people were saying there is no real value in the bees themselves and to me because of local costs and because of the survivor genetics there is value to them.

    i think we are all on a similar wave length just looking at the situation from different spots on the path depending on your goals for stock numbers and with different economic factors influencing the view.
    ________________
    Scott Stackhouse

  9. #28
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Cattaraugus,New York, USA
    Posts
    371

    Default Re: Free bees

    Quote Originally Posted by afss View Post
    Yes they are not free, you are working for them, but its not like they are costing you any more than if you had to obtain the bees from another method. If you want to charge and can thats great, I probably will charge for some of them too.
    Do about 10 cut outs for free and see how many colonies you have when you are done, I am gonna guess less than 10. Not all colonies will accept your new home for them, some will abscond, and some will just plain die out, no matter what you do.
    Always charge a base fee at least.

    I started out not charging, and now I start at 150, and go up from there. Its not worth it to do a cut out, have time and money into a cut out, for the bees to up and leave the next day.

  10. #29
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Motley County, Texas
    Posts
    507

    Default Re: Free bees


  11. #30

    Default Re: Free bees

    I notice that most of you saying that the bees are not free because you had to work doing the cutout, transportation, etc.. to get the bees. I also notice almost all of you saying you are getting paid to do this. What are you getting paid for?

    You are receiving money to do the work, transportation, etc.. involved in doing the removal aren't you?

    Would you receive that money if the bees did not survive the cutout? I am guessing you would.

    So, if you were compensated for the related costs of removing the bees, how is it the bees are not free? After you got the money for doing the work, did the customer ask you for money back to buy the bees?

    sorry, I don't buy it for a minute. Not only did you get paid to provide a service to a customer, if you got lucky, the bees survived the cutout and those are bees you didn't have to buy.

    Trying to count the work you did that you got paid money for and counting it as cost for the bees is not good math.

    but, whatever floats your boat.

    as long as more bees are staying alive is what really matters.

    Big Bear
    No, I am NOT a bee "Keeper". Anything I post is just my opinion. Take it easy and think for yourself.

  12. #31
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,487

    Default Re: Free bees

    Any swarm calls we receive from our clubs website, are asked to give a $50 donation to the club. This is our club policy.
    If they can't afford it I take less, & have done it for free. But I always let them know the $50 is requested, not mandatory. Of course I'm a representative of the club when I take a call through them.

    Some of our local beeks have told me that they have made $1500-$2000 for cutouts. I think their a little high myself.
    Dan

  13. #32
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Kingsport, Sullivan, Tennessee
    Posts
    819

    Default Re: Free bees

    I got a call for a swarm once. The guy wanted me to pay him $20 to take the swarm away and they weren't even on his property. They were in an adjacent right-of-way and resumably came from one of his old dilapidated hives. -james

  14. #33
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Clinton WA,USA
    Posts
    2,770

    Default Re: Free bees

    Bee's are worth 50-70 bucks if they live and dont leave. I think we did 25-30 swarms (that is on the low side) and maybe 10-15 of them turned out to bee good for me. several left some died out etc. Couple people gave us money for our troubles but, I rarely asked. Next year might be different to cut back on the gas and yellow jacket calls. But, it was a learning experience and we are not afraid to get into a tree now to get them.

  15. #34
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, Florida
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Free bees

    Most of the posts I read on here seem to come from folks that use bees to make a living or at least a few bucks.
    I haven't seen too many that have the passion to do what they can to save our bees and other pollinators. Of course if you are a beekeepers you are doing your part to help save the bees.
    That is where I come from. Since I am able to chase bees to do cutouts or swarm captures for free, I stay pretty busy. This year alone I have collected 107 swarms and counting.
    Most of the swarms were given to new beekeepers to help them get used to handling bees and practice their skills on finding the queen, eggs, mites, and just learning how to manage a bee hive. I mentor for one year and then I expect them to be on their own.
    It has helped many who would not be beekeepers now if they had to spend their hard earned money on bees to get started.
    Since starting 4 new bee clubs I have seen them grow and many new beekeepers are hooked on bees and will continue with this facinating hobby or maybe even become commercial beekeepers.
    I chalk it up to an investment in our future as us old guys are becoming fewer and fewer. Now with failing eye sight, I need the young and strong folks to take over and help keep the bees alive.
    It is nice to know that when I need a strong back to come over and lift a full super of honey from the hives all I need to do is call one of the new beekeepers that are willing to help me more than I have helped them.
    Keep it going !! The more you give away the more benefits you recieve.
    Have a wonderful beekeeping day,
    Chappie

  16. #35
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    wolcott,ny,usa
    Posts
    82

    Default Re: Free bees

    ive done about 30 cutouts this year. i still have about 5 to 6 more cutouts to do but im going to wait till next spring to get them. i love my job and i wuoldnt ttrade it for any thing else. im very low on frames that is why im waiting till next spring.

  17. #36
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Louisville Kentucky USA
    Posts
    459

    Default Re: Free bees

    I've picked up a lot of swarms and done a few cutouts and even trapped out or cut down a couple of bee trees.I don't usually charge for swarms but I do charge for cut outs.My son helps me do the cut outs and I usually just let him have the cash and I keep the bees.I am just doing them for the experience and good PR with the people who call.I've sold a lot of honey while picking up swarms.I like the fact that the bees get a chance to live and I feel like I am kind of a spokesman for the importance of saving the honey bees.From a monetary stand point it can get expensive but I've never had a hobby yet that was totally free. I did a cut out for a lady over 50 miles away from my house who had been calling beekeepers for 7 years trying to find someone to get them out.She willingly paid me $850 when I only ask for $500 because she was so happy to get the bees out of her house.I understand why the commercial guys wouldn't do cut outs or pick up swarms because they probably have little time to do so and they can make all the splits they need.But for us small time hobby guys I think they can be a lot of fun and you will defiantly have some good stories to tell at the beekeepers meetings.

  18. #37
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    mt. airy, surry county, nc
    Posts
    218

    Default Re: Free bees

    i had a call from one guy that wanted bees removed and sqawled when i told him that i would charge him 25$ an hour ( about half what i usauly charge) to remove them. he claimed he couldn't afford that since he was poor and as he unloaded his 5 cartons of cigarettes, and four suit cases of beer. to go watch his big screen tv.
    next guy, who restored vintage cars and collected Harley motor cycles. just could not under stand why i would charge. especially since all i had to do was climb up on his roof and take them out.

    may the mouse and moth have a feild day

    i have just done two removals in the past two months, that both took me over 10 hours to do. one was a 110 year old 2 story farm house ( the colony went from the basement to the attic). the other was a three story log and structured house, that i had to put up a 8 section scaffolding to get to them. the home owners were glad to pay the fee. i offered if they wanted to keep the bees, i would sale them a hive body and help them with them. they didn't even want to see another bee.

    most of the businesses i do has a hourly charge, i could always be doing something else that pays.
    "Any fool can learn, the trick is to understand - Einstein"

  19. #38
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Cleveland, Texas
    Posts
    1,377

    Default Re: Free bees

    Gotta jump in here, I have been doing removals for about 5 or 6 years. There absolutely is no such thing as free bees. Think about the liability you are accepting when you take the responsibility for removing these bees. Also it has been my experience in our area that at best the odds of the bees surviving are about 50-50. Add to that the time and expenses associated and there is no way to justify doing it for free. Assume that they have already been sprayed as the folks will never tell you up front that they tried it and failed. I gotta laugh at the suggestion that $25.00 per hour is a reasonable rate for our services. I charge $100.00 per hour in the bee suit with a 2 hour minimum, no way I would spend 4 or 5 hours in a bee suit in 90+ temperature, covered in bees and honey for $25.00 per hour! Add to all of this that to be a responsible beek, you must quarantine the bees and spend a good deal of extra time to evaluate them for suitability, most the time you end up re-queening and or destroying them in the end. Nucs and packages from a reputable bee supplier is a way better investment for those of you who think removals are "free bees".

    In non AHB areas, swarm collection can be a pretty good source of cheap bees (still not free), but here, they are not much better than a removal, just easier to get. I charge a minimum of $75.00 to collect a swarm, more the further it is from me. I tell the folks that they gotta pay my fee even if the swarm is gone when I get there. I am up front and tell them that the swarm will move on, so many opt to wait it out even when I tell them they the could move on into their house!

    I also gotta say that anyone who does it for free is doing a dis-service to our industry, they just promote this wrong headed thinking and after one or two 12 to 14 hour free removals they just quit doing them all together but the damage is already done as word travels fast that beekeepers will "do it for free".
    "The UNKNOWN, huh? That would be SNORBERT ZANGOX over in Waycross."

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