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Okay, I'm still a hobby beekeeper, but I'm getting interested more and more and I'm interested in starting a sideline business. What do I need to look at in order to start an apiary?

Some questions I've thought of:

1) How do you establish a web presence?
2) How do you get permission to ship Queens and Nucs from the USDA or other government agency?
3) Is there commercial apiary software to look at to help you manage accounts?
4) What kind of state (my state is Washington) requirements do I need to look at?

I am mostly interested in breeding Russian and NW survivor stock bees, but everything else is interesting to me too... I don't want big pollination contracts, but local pollination to small organic farms would be okay. I have limited funds to invest in a business, so "bootstrap" ideas are also very helpful.

What things should I do first, second, third, etc.?

I would like to research everything before I start offering any products for sale, and I appreciate any advice.
 

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Okay, I'm still a hobby beekeeper, but I'm getting interested more and more and I'm interested in starting a sideline business. What do I need to look at in order to start an apiary?

Some questions I've thought of:

1) How do you establish a web presence?
2) How do you get permission to ship Queens and Nucs from the USDA or other government agency?
3) Is there commercial apiary software to look at to help you manage accounts?
4) What kind of state (my state is Washington) requirements do I need to look at?

I am mostly interested in breeding Russian and NW survivor stock bees, but everything else is interesting to me too... I don't want big pollination contracts, but local pollination to small organic farms would be okay. I have limited funds to invest in a business, so "bootstrap" ideas are also very helpful.

What things should I do first, second, third, etc.?

I would like to research everything before I start offering any products for sale, and I appreciate any advice.
Im not commercial but Ill tell you what I can.

To be on the web-

first you need to decide what your company will be called. You want your company name and website address to be the same, and easy to remember. Say you want to name your bussiness bill bees. Your website address would be billsbees.com. Your website address is called a domain name. You need to register it and this requires you to pay a fee of about ten dollars a year. So you want the address billsbees.com. You can search it or better yet use a free domain search engine like http://instantdomainsearch.com/

If you search it you will see that it is already taken. You could use .org or others though. You really should use .com though because it is the first one every one will try and if you use . org and someone goes to .com you may lose buisiness. Next you need a website and this requires you to rent space on a server to host your website. This is about ten dollars a month or if you pay for the year seventy bucks a year. Pretty cheap. If you are not computer savy, You will need to pay for someone to make your website. This is where it gets expensive. This could be between a couple hundred to a couple thousand depending on how fancy you want it and if you want it updated with new info all the time.

As far as I know to ship bees across state lines you need to have your bees inspected by the state you live in.

Yes there is software out there but someone else will have to point you there.

My state has no requirements as long as my bees dont leave the state. No idea what yours may require.

As far as what you should do first, I think you need to decide what you want to do and what is available in your area. Is there pollination needs in our area? Do you want to sell bee? Do you want to sell honey to the packers or wholesale? What are your expenses for equipment and feeding? What can you gross from sales? What will your net be?

If you are buying all your equipment ready to use You will not see a return on honey for three years if you averaged 100 pounds of honey and sell to packers. Lots of things to think about.

If I were to get into commercial like I would like to do, I would do almonds and honey. You will need a full load of bees which is 400 colonies. If you are going to provide 400 colonies you would probably want 500 so you can weed out the small ones and compensate for die outs before you ship. Then you could focus on honey for the remainder of the season. Lots of work, and lots of risk.
 

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1) keep your day job, see if you like keeping bees
2) start small, build your numbers by dividing hives and making splits
3) market your honey yourself to get the best prices

or

4) borrow all the money you need and buy an on-going business

The former will likely take longer but in my humble opinion, lead to more success. The latter is quicker but fraught with a slippery, steeply pitched learnng curve.

Grant
Jackson, MO
 

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few if any commercial beekeepers have a web page as they mostly sell their honey in drums to packers.

software has no real use in my view in running a small or giant bee business other then quickbooks for your accounting.

you're not going to be selling any real quantity of nucs and queens for probably a decade with your current level of experience.

plugging away at the basics for 4-5 years is the place to start and see if you have the knack for keeping bees alive, producing some honey and making any money at all.

you can take your skills and turn them into a profession, not start a big business and then learn the skills.
 

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Talk to you're county agriculture agent. They'll know the answer to you're legal questions, & they know about local organic farms you said you want to pollinate.
Make sure you ask for the bee person when you go in the office.
 

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Do as Grant suggests. In fact, he has an e-book that is very helpful, as you expand from a couple of hives, up to 25 and more. Build up to 25-30 hives, see how you like it... then up to 100... you'll learn as you go, and develop your markets and small scale pollination contracts. That will minimize your mistakes. Remember what some commercial beeks have said: "To make a million $ in beekeeping, start with 2 million." oh, and read the commercial area of this forum regularly.
Regards,
Steven
 

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Interesting question. I think first, if you really want to go commercial you really, really need to work for a commercial beek. I am not saying quit your day job, you can work with one on weekends, or take a day off every week or two and work with them for a year, just so you get to know the difference of working bees as a living as opposed to as a hobby. Huge difference...huge. Then decide what kind of business you want to get into. If you want to breed queens and make nucs I would personally go work for Kona queens for a summer to see just what is involved in queen breeding. Remember, if you are going to make a living from it you have to know how to do it. Raising a couple of queens or even a hundred isn't going to pay your bills. In commercial there is honey production (retail or wholesale), pollination, queens, nucs, pollen production and as in the case of Keith J. pattie production. And many comm. beeks are into more then one of these to make the business successful.

Just some things to think about...but before I would invest any money (and this is what I did) learn the trade from a well established commercial beek. You will save tens of thousands...at least in the long run.
 

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Old thread but I'll jump in anyway.

There is a huge difference in sideliners and commercial
IMO. It's like comparing a corner grocery store to Publix.

I will never, ever, be a commercial beekeeper by choice.
For me sideliner is the way to go as I like to diversify my
income stream.

Follow Grant's advise........ good stuff.
 
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