How To Go Fulltime?
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  1. #1
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    Default How To Go Fulltime?

    Hi All

    I've got a curiosity question for you seasoned beekeepers? How many hives would it take to become a full-time beekeeper?

    Thanks for any input

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  3. #2
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    Nov 2011
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: How To Go Fulltime?

    How much money do you need ...... to support your family in the style to which they have become accustomed?



    Here is a thread for you ....https://www.beesource.com/forums/show...ney-production


    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  4. #3
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    Default Re: How To Go Fulltime?

    I think that is the main deciding factor. How little can you live on. If you can live cheap, don't have a mortgage... or if you live in a $500,000 with a mortgage and car payments makes a lot of difference.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  5. #4
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    Nov 2013
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    richland center, wisconsin USA
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    Default Re: How To Go Fulltime?

    Multiple streams of income from products will help also ... Its not all about the honey for some...
    "Anytime you see someone more successful than you are, they are doing something you aren't."

  6. #5
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    Jan 2015
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    Tipton, Missouri
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    Default Re: How To Go Fulltime?

    I do a decent sideline business with just 80 hives. For me to live fully on bees based on what I make as a sideliner it would have to be something like 500 hives. Then I would have to find a market to support the additional products. It obviously can be done if you have the $$ to get going, and the space to house that many hives. Currently I don't have a large enough area to support that many hives, so then I might have to pay rent. So it might be more than 500

    I personally just like my sideline business. I treat it as extra cash to supplement my main income which doesn't rely on the bees having a good year.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: How To Go Fulltime?

    Interesting reading Rader. Well I guess I'm not going to become a millionaire from bees. BUT, I would like to be able to someday use this as my "work from home business". Is it safe to say that you could make a living of somewhere between 50 and 80 grand a year or is that a far stretch? Oh, and how many hives roughly would you need to get into this ball park?

  8. #7
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: How To Go Fulltime?

    Pay attention to the comments in post #5. A key issue with selling honey is the marketing. If you only are selling a few hundred pounds a year, you might be able to do boutique packaging and marketing and sell for $10-$15 per pound. But the bigger you get, the harder it is to sell increasing quantities of honey at boutique prices.

    With hundreds of hives, you may end up selling honey at wholesale prices of $2-$3 per pound. So the situation is highly variable.

    In my opinion, you should consider that you don't know what you can sell that will bring the highest return, until you are closer to the scale that might bring you that $50-$80 grand that you want.

    How can anyone say what you will be best at producing in a competitive market? Wholesale honey? boutique honey? queens? nucs? package bees?

    Are you willing to travel with hives for pollination, or at least have the hives travel without you?
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  9. #8
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    Mar 2014
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    Virginia Beach Va. usa
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    Default Re: How To Go Fulltime?

    I would keep my day job and go to be camp if one is offered.I would like to go to bee camp? but how much could I learn in a week? for me do it 5 times then I remember a little.I like WLeeH approach.I am not a seasoned beek just my 2 cents worth

    Stumpy lake bee farm

  10. #9
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    Mar 2013
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    fairfield, sc
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    Default Re: How To Go Fulltime?

    the fat-bee-man offers a week long training session - I believe for around $500 and offers some additional help whenever you return home. You can search "fat bee man" on youtube and should get all you want to know.

    Not that this is the final answer, but the only 1 that I've heard of around. Speaking of that, wonder why nobody else offers anything like this around the country..??? I know local bee clubs offer different 'mentor' training and there's 'schedule' training for continuing education towards becoming a 'master beekeeper' but doesn't seem to be any other classes or ciuculiums out there.

  11. #10
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    Great Falls Montana
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    Default Re: How To Go Fulltime?

    The pencil tells all in an honest hand. You can sell all your honey in drums for $2 a pound in the current market. How many pounds are you producing per hive now? You can build four deep boxes and frames for $120 and you need that many. You can buy bees off the almonds pretty cheap while using your vacation time learning to raise your own queens or working for them or better yet cells.

    You will find an old truck that will get you by and put a tommy lift on it or throw doubles on by hand. You will sleep four hours a night for six months if lucky and six in the winter as you build equipment into the night. You find a local commercial guy who will let you work off your extracting and maybe even let you get equipment by adding your puny order of thousands to his tens of thousands.

    In four or five years if you still love bees and if your wife still loves you, you may be able to take the next big step away from your day job. Then, you get to find out if you can manage your time and resources. Have no pension or medical you don't supply. What happens if you break a bone? What are you waiting for?

  12. #11
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    Jan 2015
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    Default Re: How To Go Fulltime?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post

    In four or five years if you still love bees and if your wife still loves you, you may be able to take the next big step away from your day job. Then, you get to find out if you can manage your time and resources. Have no pension or medical you don't supply. What happens if you break a bone? What are you waiting for?
    This part is honestly what keeps me as a sideliner =) I like my bees, I enjoy my bees, and luckily my ole' lady likes em too. Managing 80 hives isn't all that hard with a helper, not really, or at least not for the system I have in place. Not having a job that pays for my medical, that would suck. You would have to figure those extra costs as part of your bee keeping operation.

  13. #12
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    Feb 2013
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    Concord, VT,USA
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    Default Re: How To Go Fulltime?

    A fellow at work purchased a hotdog cart a couple of years ago. We live in the middle of tourist country. He said the cart was merely parked in his driveway and cars were stopping to inquire as to whether he was open.

    By the time he reviewed all the rules and regulations he was both amused and appalled. This simple and too cool venture would require quite a bit of upfront money. So much, in fact, that he'd *must* work it every weekend to even hope to break even.

    He's selling the cart. He said that he wanted to do it for the pure joy. But it suddenly became a job.

    I admire anyone who can make a living working bees. There are certainly legends here that do it. But with the diseases... the weather.... the pesticides...and the influx of foreign honey dumped on the market.... there's gotta' be an easier way to make a living.
    7 years; 3 colonies.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: How To Go Fulltime?

    The guy I've been learning from told me, and I quote, "If you think you are going to make money from honey, forget it." I dunno, maybe so, maybe no. Not counting money re-invested, I calculated that it would take me about 60 hives to replace my income...at the job I had before I got laid off...yeah, I didn't make a lot. Of course, that was provided that I averaged a decent production, and was able to sell the honey at (the 'boutique' price of) $10/lb. Of course, that isn't accounting for my packaging costs, which have a considerable impact. To account for packaging and reinvestment (equipment) I'll probably need more than that.

    On the other hand, assuming that I can become proficient at raising queens and perhaps selling nucs, that number may become variable.

    This fellow offered me the opportunity to go down to GA and work with him in his yards there, maybe it was a mistake not to go. (But, if some of the problems that have occurred here in the last couple of months had happened while the Mrs. was alone, she would have been screwed...and not in the good way.)
    If you want to be successful, study successful people and do what they do.
    Zone 4a/b

  15. #14
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    Fort Gay, WV, USA
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    Default Re: How To Go Fulltime?

    Quote Originally Posted by bluescorpion View Post
    Hi All
    I've got a curiosity question for you seasoned beekeepers? How many hives would it take to become a full-time beekeeper?
    Quote Originally Posted by Rader Sidetrack View Post
    How much money do you need ...... to support your family in the style to which they have become accustomed?
    I think maybe the real question may be "How BAD do you want it?"
    Seriously, even while lots of the information above this post is relative to the question you post, the determining factor at some point is going to be simply, how bad you want to do it.

    For me it was exactly that, that put me into beekeeping. The love of bees and the ability to shape my future by my own hand and NOT have to worry if a "boss" had a bad day or not is what really motivated me to go full time.

    I make a living at it, but as others have mentioned, there's no mortgage payment or vehicle payments to be made by me at this point. So my costs are lower allowing me to do this. Needless to say the income pays bills, keeps us afloat, and as time goes the operation will get bigger.

    Determine what your needs really are as Graham states above, then decide if you really want it. Once you go past sideliner, it's hard to turn around again....
    Thomas Bartram

  16. #15
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: How To Go Fulltime?

    500 hives.
    Mark Berninghausen

  17. #16
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    Default Re: How To Go Fulltime?

    " In 1993, 1 also expanded the apiary, and reached what I considered the optimum size: 330 honey producing colonies and 600 nucleus colonies."--Kirk Webster

    http://kirkwebster.com/index.php/the...-secret-part-2
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  18. #17
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    Default Re: How To Go Fulltime?

    Take this from someone who has not become a full-time beekeeper:

    I've run the numbers over and over again. I don't live in a heavy honey producing area. State average is 35 lbs. 60 may be possible, but probably not year over year. Not for my area. Pollination contracts aren't easily within grasp. At least not the ones that pay enough for it to be worthwhile (almonds, oranges, blueberries, even apples). Nuc production in this state isn't bad, but it requires a heavy amount of colonies to make a real go at it.

    When you add in the costs of the labor, gas, mileage, sugar, feed, queens, medications, repairs, mortgage (on some land with some type of "shop") and containers, assuming I can sell roughly 50% of my honey retail and 50% wholesale, it would take 500 hives to break even, and then I'd be making about $15k a year (before taxes). More hives means more expenses, bigger ventures require more time which requires more expenses, so you get the idea. If you factor in the cost of the equipment, extracting equipment, and bees, the 500 hives would give me a 22 year ROI. Assuming I had the cash up front to put into it.

    If I didn't have a mortgage, or a car payment, I might be able to make a go at it. But not realistically. Not until I hit the 1,000+ hive mark.

    Other states would be more profitable. Closer to pollination contracts would be able to help out significantly. But not realistic where I'm at. Not right now at least.

    For what it's worth. Your numbers may run better.

  19. #18
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    Feb 2010
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    Milledgeville, Georgia
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    Default Re: How To Go Fulltime?

    Quote Originally Posted by bluescorpion View Post
    Hi All

    I've got a curiosity question for you seasoned beekeepers? How many hives would it take to become a full-time beekeeper?

    Thanks for any input
    I've seen many hobbyist beekeepers get to 50 hives and are simply overwhelmed by micro managing making it full time.

    TIME MANAGEMENT and multi tasking is critical as you can't manage hives the same at the 100 300 and 500 level with the same equipment needs.

    The successful commercial outfit guys just have general common business sense and would also be good at just about anything.

    The transition from hobbyist to commercial begins with managing out yards instead of individual beehives.
    John Pluta http://GeorgiaBees.blogspot.com Common Sense KISS Beekeeping Treated Boxes Bees Full Frames Foundation

  20. #19
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    Default Re: How To Go Fulltime?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    " In 1993, 1 also expanded the apiary, and reached what I considered the optimum size: 330 honey producing colonies and 600 nucleus colonies."--Kirk Webster

    http://kirkwebster.com/index.php/the...-secret-part-2
    And I have seen photographs of that many in one yard in NY in the early 20th Century.
    Mark Berninghausen

  21. #20
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    Nov 2013
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    richland center, wisconsin USA
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    Default Re: How To Go Fulltime?

    Your business model is not what someone else thinks it should be.. Some very large companies have been started in garages.. while others with goverment backing have failed...RESEARCH PLAN .... pay off debt first ... It is easier to stay afloat and profitable, if you dont have extra bills leaking the bottom line...

    It can be done if you want it to, if you only had 2 hives you would just have to be more creative in spending and bringing income. If you have 20 you will spend less time with each time but still have to work .. There isnt a magic number minimum you have to have for you to consider yourself a success. I thank God everyday i made that leap of faith and look forward to tomorrow without dreading waking up to have to go to work for someone else.
    "Anytime you see someone more successful than you are, they are doing something you aren't."

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