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Is there any information available for avaerage operating cost per colony. I know there is no reliable number but there must be some kind of average. If one were looking for a loan you would need to have an idea of expenses and whatnot.

I am wondering how one would figure out your profit margin for a certain nuber of colonies under normal circumstances. If you had 200 colonies in an apiary and asumed you would harvest 100 pounds of honey per, and treat all colonies, requeen a certain number...................... Is there some kind of formula for this stuff.

Thank You for any input

WI-beek
 

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I'd imagine the number would be all over the place. But for me it's sort of like duck hunting. We've got the price of duck meat down to about $850/lb...
 

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We have gators in Huntsville if you want them.:D

Back on topic...my operating costs per hive have really declined since I first started. Mostly due to the fact that when I started BK I was buying stuff that I really didn't need and never used and I was out in my bee yards almost everyday. I don't have an actual dollar figure, but I do spend less money and time per hive now that I have setteled into a fairly normal routine.
 

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I would be interested if someone could come up with a formula . . . but the number of factors involved would make it so much speculation I doubt it would be helpful.
 

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I guess it would be around $500.00 per hive per lifetime of colony. Like any business, the start up costs are what kills the fun. Start with new "Everything", and we're crawling to the bank for a loan.

Starter Hive - 200
Extra Supers - 75
Feeder- 20
Frames/Foundation - 50
vale - 50
Gloves/tools- 25
Smoker- 35
Medicine (if any) 50
Nucs or package
Bees- 125 each (shipping included) (expensive ones)
Honey extraction
Equipment- up to ??? 700 for a good one ?

Total = $$$$$ 630.00 w/o extractor equipment. $1330.00 or more with it.

Starting from scratch is nothing to admire.
 

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Your talking 200 hives;
Why don't you go over to the Commercial beekeeping forum, those folks need a good laugh also.

PCM
 

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WI-beek:

Several months ago, after having read a 2-3 year old article which stated it costs over $100.00 per colony to treat, I threw that figure out to the group. My question was if this about the right amount to treat a colony per year. I received no replies. Not long ago someone threw the figure of $200.00 per colony per year to treat, and I think it was Barry Digman which challenged this amount, as he wanted the specifics for this amount. My suspicion based upon the response was that $200.00 was a little high, but my guess because of the lack of response was that the current $100.00 was a little low. So my guess would be somewhere in between. This is one of the reasons I chose not to treat and go small cell.

My guess is you were wondering about annual maintenance and not the initial startup costs. My guess is that with requeening and normal wear and tear, feeding in a bad year etc. you might be looking at around $40.00-$50.00 per year, per colony; but that's just using the SWAG method and this would exclude the $100-$200 per colony per year for treatments; although I suspect with proper management techniques this could be reduced. Hope this helps.

Danny
 

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There is an artical in the bee culture this month "2010 Almond Pollination". It has a figure of $138/colony. I believe that included the med's.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
There is an artical in the bee culture this month "2010 Almond Pollination". It has a figure of $138/colony. I believe that included the med's.
I read that already and I believe that number was for almond pollination and includes transportation and all the stuff that goes with it. It is also in this article that it is suggested that beeks have a figure to calculate there expenses. It is that lack of not learning how to use more than a hive tool and laughing at those who do that may end up broke scratching there heads.
 

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:lpf: :lpf: :lpf:
I'm commercial and watching this thread. You guys are cracking me up in the speculation of how we do things. Beekeeping is farming and you can't figure a cost per hive thing it just don't work like that. Because farming is a gamble we can only speculate on honey yields and any one over 500 hives never can give actual hive counts only close estimates. And that isn't because we can't operate something more complex than a hive tool. I graduated from college with a 3.48 GPA in computer networking so I'm some what offended by that commit. I would never refer to a hobbyist in that manner as to belittle them by not knowing. Such as the post with the cost of equipment.

Starter Hive - 200
Extra Supers - 75
Feeder- 20
Frames/Foundation - 50
vale - 50
Gloves/tools- 25
Smoker- 35
Medicine (if any) 50
Nucs or package
Bees- 125 each (shipping included) (expensive ones)
Honey extraction
Equipment- up to ??? 700 for a good one ?

Total = $$$$$ 630.00 w/o extractor equipment. $1330.00 or more with it.

More way more than that you can't buy a commercial extractor even junk for that price. Recheck the prices of extraction equipment wax melters, large extractors, wax spinners, heat exchangers, honey pumps all that. And try guys to keep in mind you can't extract a few tons of honey with a hot knife and a hand crank extractor. I don't mean to offend you Swedebee but you are off way off in these prices. That $1330.00 won't even start equiping a commercial honey house much less buy lifts, trucks, and buildings we have on the commercial side. I know I wouldn't have the Swinger, Bobcat, trucks and trailers if it wasn't for bees.
 

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Yo Mathis,
Lets see. You got offended, bragged about your education and ridiculed the earlier posters. The original question was about a 200 hive operation….not thousands. Great post.

To the original poster, are you looking only for operating expenses/hive? Not the cost to buy new equipment? We're talking out of pocket expenses? I could look at my last year's business tax return, take my expenses and divide it by the number of hives and give you an idea of my costs/hive. I'm not a very efficient operation. It would include equipment depreciation and allowable vehicle expenses. It would not include any labor. Would this help? It'll take a little time on my part, so don't just say yes. Think about it.
 

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That would be interesting to know a ball park figure.
It's gonna need to be more than 'interesting' for me to take the time to dig out the return, cull the unnecessary stuff and come up with a ball park number.
To the original poster, is this only a curiousity? Or is this really important to you?
 

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Is there any information available for avaerage operating cost per colony.

I would suggest that you start researching locally. Your county extension office, universities, USDA offices in Wisconsin, etc. There may be someone in your specific area who would be willing and able to either help you develop a plan or guide you to someone qualified who can assist.
 

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This is not on the 200 hive scale, but here are my costs:

I came through winter with 6 hives and now have 11. I spent:

Queens: $137.00
Jars: $110.47
Pollen patties: $65.00 (I obviously don't feed these much)
Sugar: $90.00
Labels/bands: $17.00
Treatments: $41.00 (approximate - I treated 6 with apiguard and Miteway-II and fumigilin)

So my total cost was $460.47 for 6-11 hives depending on when you want to count my number. I sold $1148.75 in honey(all retail), leaving me with $688.28 in profit less depreciation. I still have all of my equipment that I started with in 1986, so it will depend on how long you want to depreciate it over. I did replace gloves one year and need to again (a bunch of holes).

For 200 hives you won't be selling it all retail if you are able to get 100 lb/hive. The discussion earlier about $100/hive for treatments doesn't make any sense at all unless sugar/patties are treatment. You can treat 30 hives for $85 using Apiguard.

I gained 5 hives and have 105 lbs of creamed honey made for sale next year.
 

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WI-beek:

I hesitate to comment any further as I am just getting started back into beekeeping after being out of it since the mid 80s. I think that it is commendable though that you are trying to consider your costs in advance. This is part of good management. Also, imo, 200 colonies is a good starting place for someone who is trying commercially beek, who has little experience. However, I don't know about the part about getting a loan.

Might I take liberties to offer suggestions beyond your initial questions? If I offend you let me know and I will promptly delete my post.

I would not jump into this beyond what you could afford to lose 60-70% of. You might also limit potential losses by taking over someone else's disaster. Not all bee yards are going to be profitable, nor will they always be a 'safe' place for bees as America is addicted to poisoning the environment to suit their selfish needs. In other words, don't borrow money in anticipation of profits.

I would suggest that you continue doing what you are doing until you can establish your new venture. It may take years to develope profitable marketing of your end product. My 12-15 colonies started out very profitable during the late 70s and early 80s, but the economics changed when tricky Dick Nixon, opened us up to the Chinese honey. Many longtime beeks have gone broke due to the challenges of modern beekeeping. This is not to say that it can't be done, just to say that you may be in the middle of a swift stream so you better get yourself a big paddle.

I would suggest that some of the more experienced beeks start helping WI-beek out.

1. What does it cost to treat a colony per year? Break it down for different treatment methods, ie. varroa, nosemea, etc.

2. What kind of routine maintenance could he expect and what is the nature of these maintenance costs? (ie. box and frame repairs, harvesting equipment repairs, etc.)

3. How often to you guys work your colonies? (travel expenses can be a major expense, so he needs to compute how many times he must visit his yards.).

I realize the above will be somewhat different for each operation, but he needs some input from a variety of operations.

Dan, also take note that WI-beek started this thread and asked the initial questions, and not Sweedbee1970.

Kindest Regards
Danny
 

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Is there any information available for avaerage operating cost per colony. Thank You for any input

WI-beek
This is a really hard question to answer and like so many beekeeping questions, if you ask ten beekeepers you will probably end up w/ more than ten answers.

That being said, I would have to look at last years P&L Statement to say what yearly operating costs for 2008 were. I may PM you some figures, if I get the time.

Last year, at our NY State beekeepers mtng, the consensus of opinion on the cost of producing a lb of honey was that it cost more than a dollar. How much more is up to the individual.

There are lots of costs that are variable from beekeeper to beekeeper and in any beekeeping operation of a size larger than hobbyist and perhaps sideliner, there are in some ways a number of businesses. I don't know very many beekeepers, other than hobbyists, who are just honey producers. Most of the beekeepers that I know are Honey producers and pollinators and nuc sellers. So figuring out cost of operations for one aspect of the business takes quite a bit of accounting and book keeping expertise.

The short answer is , No, there is no formula. Not that I know of. And, imo, if anyone shows you one, I want to see it.

Good question though. Even if other wish to ridicule. Bin ther, dun dat.
 

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Dan, also take note that WI-beek started this thread and asked the initial questions, and not Sweedbee1970.
I realize that Danny. Which is why, in my reply to Swedebee I said:
To the original poster, is this only a curiousity? Or is this really important to you?
Best to ya.
 

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The discussion earlier about $100/hive for treatments doesn't make any sense at all unless sugar/patties are treatment. You can treat 30 hives for $85 using Apiguard.
beedeetee:

The figure in the article was actually $105.00 as I can recall. I also ran this by a migratory commercial beek that migrates from Texas to Wisconsin. He also told me that this figure is probably pretty close to being correct, but I don't remember if he was referring to all operating expenses, but I think it was just for treatments. I think he runs about 600 colonies on canola (he has pollenation contracts), but also makes splits to carry to sell when he moves north. His wife also sells at local markets and much of their honey is retailed. One of the things I was warned about was that what works, doesn't always, work so you end up treating several times with different methods. In other words the mites become immune. I really have no experience with this myself and this is all hearsay from other beeks and from what I have read, so take it with a grain of salt for what it's worth.

I got the idea that the migratory beeks operation was fairly prosperous, but it was him and his wife and he usually hired some highschool guys during summer to help with harvesting. Note: that he has a variety of income source, first selling nucs, next pollenation contracts, and next honey sales, of which most are retail. It seems like he said that his honey production was about 70# per colony and that he only had to wholesale about 2 barrels the prior year, the rest was all retail sales.
 
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