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how many hives could one person realistically handle by their self? with a full time job elsewhere and without?
 

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how many hives could one person realistically handle by their self? with a full time job elsewhere and without?
The key word here is REALISTICALLY, I am interested in the responses you get on this question too. I retired early recently, and only have 40 hives, hope to expand up to 400 because I think that is what I would need to provide an income that compares to what I made at my old job. I'm building ALL my own woodenware to save on costs, that alone is keeping me very busy right now. I figure I need to build around 2000 medium depth boxes alone, right now that seems like a mind boggling amount for me to build myself in the next couple years. I better get busy. John
 

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I'm sure you'll get lots of opinions on this, but here's my situation: I run about 700 hives here (North Dakota) for honey in the summer, and send one semi load (roughly 500 hives)to CA for the winter/almonds. I do virtually all the bee work myself, and have the family help at extracting time. I have a full time job (40 hours/week). Travel to CA 3 times over the course of the fall/winter/spring, so between that and harvest/extracting, that's about where 80% of my vacation time goes.
 

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That depends on how intensive you intend to work your bees. We are now working a lot less hives per man than in the 60's before mites. Do you plan on using chemicals to treat for mites and other pathogens, or not? Not using chemicals takes more effort. Do you plan on raising your own queens? Ar you counting the time it takes to make your own equipment? Winters are only so long. Do a time study on the hives you have. What does the math tell you?

Roland
 

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If you don't want to become enslaved and want to stay on top of your bees 500 is plenty of work. If you are the lazy type then 300-400. If you are very ambitious with a strong back and mind 800-1000.
 

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I guess the question is... How many hives do you have now?

Or is this all theory?

I would expect that it would depends on how far apart your hives are, how often your looking into them, etc..

If you have 100 hives in a single yard.. It will be alot less effort than 10 yards with 10 hives per.

I plan to ramp up my hives over the next year. I'm going to see how many I can do before it becomes to much like work.

off topic... but Gregg... do you let someone else manage those 500 hives on the almonds. Or do you travel with?
 

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It would depend on a lot of factors including how flexible your daytime job is what what exactly you do with the bees (honey, pollination, queens, nucs, etc.)

I'm personally about at my limit running 120-150 hives, 270 mating nucs producing honey, queens and some pollen. But I have a day job that sometimes takes 60 hours a week (which is has lately), 3 kids and another part time business.

I've heard of one man operations doing honey and pollination that are around 1000-1200 hives. I think they get some seasonal help around harvest time though.

-Tim
 

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KevinR: hire a semi to take load to CA, have a broker out there who unloads truck, finds almond contracts, moves them into orchards and loads truck again after almonds are done. My 3 trips out there (November/January/late March or early April) are spent working the hives (feeding syrup/pollen, culling out weak hives/dead outs, making splits in the spring, etc). Broker does not pop a lid, simply moves them.

jmgi: have 16 yards, avg. a little more than 40 per yard (43.75 to be exact I guess); smallest one has 32 hives, largest is 64; most have 40 or 48.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Or is this all theory?
for now this is all theory. I currently have five hives. I plan to expand, just not sure by how much. just trying to get some numbers in my head to work with. would love to do it full time eventually. I like to do things on my own as much as possible (more peaceful for me). my wife and son will help me on the (non-bee) hands on parts.

plus I thought this would be a very interesting topic to be discussed:)
 

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If you search through previous posts you will find this question has been discussed a few times over the years here.
 

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It's been discussed a few times. It really comes down to the person and their situation.

I'm looking at doing around 40 next year, but my yard will be 2 hours away.

Travel costs and time will suck up alot of what I "could" do.

On average, from what I remember from the various discussions. It's 100-1000 hives can be managed as a sideliner. Obviously the higher the number, the more hours during the week it will take. You might not be "officially" fulltime, but it could be very possible to be working 20+ hours a week on bees during your off time.

I believe that your level of monetary investment plays a big role also. Are you carrying acround the hives, or using a loader. That could be a "huge" time and effort saver.
 

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I am running about 600, however I also pack all honey produces in Ky and several barrell of orange blossom. THat takes alot of time. I hire a minimal amount of labor (2 people for 3-4 days). HIred one personfull time for a month this year in Ky with big crop. If I sold by barrell I could run 1,000 with extracting help. I also run a auction business doing 12-15 estate farmandreal estate auctions a year. Driving long distances to bee yards will eat your time and diesel.
 
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