Marketing bee colonies
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Caldwell TX USA
    Posts
    119

    Default Marketing bee colonies

    With this wonderful Spring, I'm getting more colonies between splits and cutouts than I can fit on my ranch.

    So I've been thinking about ways to market my girls. Note that they're all wild-caught. Most are at least partially africanized, so they're 'aggressive' compared to Italians, but not the worst where they follow you 1/2 mile. The benefit of these colonies is that they're really hardy. Last winter I started with 9 hives & ended with 9 hives. I had 0% losses the year before. Only losses (other than next-day absconded cutouts) has been 2 colonies to fire ants. And every colony remain strong, after splits they still have 15-20 frames each.

    So, given that, I'm considering a different 'strategy' for marketing. Let me lay it out, and please give me feedback on what you like & where it needs improving.

    I'm going to offer to do all the work to get people an Ag exemption for bees (people with 6-20 acres). The price will be $700 per hive, number of hives varies with how many acres they have. They fence off a little area for the bees. I bring the bees in. Each colony will be at least a deep and a super full. I help them with the paperwork to apply for the exemption. I will maintain the colonies for the first year, and I'll teach them what they need to do. I'll include consulting for the second year as needed. I'll also guarantee the colonies to survive those first 2 years. I get the honey the first year, they get it the second & beyond.

    They can save thousands each year with their ag exemption. They get healthy colonies that won't need regular monitoring or chemicals: basically add/remove supers, split in the spring, and that's about it. They need their own suits/tools/extra supers. Or I could offer an ongoing service: I do all the work & they pay me a stipend to keep them there. Of course I will tell them to avoid mowing near the colonies and that they are aggressive (hence the fencing to keep kids/animals away). And they are really only 'mean' when they are queenless (split/swarm), hungry, or overcrowded; and I can help address those situations.

    Keep in mind, central Texas. Lots of ranch land, but people are splitting ranches into 10 acre plots & the only option for ag exemption is bees. Is this too high, too low, a bad idea? I'll have to draw up a contract to spell things out & have them acknowledge the dangers of bees (allergies, etc).

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,535

    Default Re: Marketing bee colonies

    Sounds to me like you will primarily be farming the property tax system. Ag exemptions exist to support agriculture, not necessarily to give some people breaks on their property taxes.

    What you describe might also make you liable for any injury that occurred on these (and adjoining) properties that could be (rightly or wrongly) ascribed to the bees.

    That's a headache I wouldn't want. To keep your apiary sized to your own property, stop making splits and doing cut-outs.

    This has been my problem, too. Until I had a fire and an outbreak of EFB, I had never lost a colony for any reason, so the often repeated suggestion of making splits for a "sustainable" apiary was not useful. I am assuming that once I am finished with the EFB, I will go back to my former survivor percentage. My bees, of course are not AHB, so I may have less pressure from swarming. But you could always split and then recombine before the new colony becomes queenright. I find using a Snelgrove board is particularly useful for this practice. I'm sure it would work for somewhat AHB-ish bees, as well.

    Nancy

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Orange Grove, TX
    Posts
    270

    Default Re: Marketing bee colonies

    This sounds like a horrible idea. The general public is not knowledgeable enough to handle our feral bees. One year of "mentoring" will not prepare them. Bee keeping is not as simple as adding and removing supers...

    Even if you maintain the bees for them indefinitely, they should be requeened with gentle stock. Our feral bees are a liability.
    South Texas Apiaries, LLC
    www.Facebook.com/SouthTexasApiaries

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Grand Rapids, Ohio
    Posts
    1,210

    Thumbs Up Re: Marketing bee colonies

    I think you have a business. There is others out there renting the hive and charge for everything, like (deliver, feed, extracting, bottling, pickup and plus a charge to do the beekeeping on your own hives.) for up to $650-900 a hive a year. At the end of that bill the bees are still your. Really not a bad business if you do it right.

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