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I am new beekeeper and I enjoy it very much, I find myself trying to figure out a way to make a living at it.....I was considering the commercial aspect of beekeeping, specifically pollination. I was hoping some of you commercial pollinators could enlightened me as what to expect. I was thinking of a 500 to 1000 hive apiary, what are some of the challenges and expenses? I know CCD, verroa, nosema, traveling stress on the bees, receiving payment, and the rest of the usual suspects will be problematic, but what are some of the other problems that yall have encounter as commercial beekeepers? If you had to do it over, would you choose to be a commercial beekeeper once again? Would you encourage or discourage me to become a commercial beekeeper?
 

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If you are in it for the love of the money before the love of the bees FORGET IT!!

If its the latter with out a smidgen of the former you have stepped forward with the correct foot. Long hours. Little money. No glory! But a heck of a great life!!!!!
 

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"I should say that beekeeping is a good business to let alone, for the same amount of brains and energy that will make you a living at beekeeping will make more than a living at almost any other business."--C.C. Miller, A Thousand answers to beekeeping questions 1917 edition Page 18
 

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Given your location, queen, package, and nucleus colony production would be more lucrative with less stress than working pollination. Note the word "less" which does not really convey a sense of proportion since the starting point is unknown.
 

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"I should say that beekeeping is a good business to let alone, for the same amount of brains and energy that will make you a living at beekeeping will make more than a living at almost any other business."--C.C. Miller, A Thousand answers to beekeeping questions 1917 edition Page 18
Great quote!
 

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Go work for a commercial operation for a year before you decide. I'm finishing up my 2nd year and breaking off on my own. It's not at all like hobby beekeeping. The the hours are long, the days are hold, cold, rainy, sunny, muggy, and dry. When the bees need something, you do it, even of it means missing games, weddings, holidays etc. It's expensive to start, you will need hives, supers, pallets, lids, equipment to make patties, a truck, a skid loader with 5th wheel or swinger, trailer, mixing tanks, totes, pumps, extracting equipment, hive locations, a shop, van trailers to store stuff in, barrels, pollination contracts, honey pallets, electric fences, guns, buckets, nets, straps, feeders, tens of thousands of lbs of sugar, money for plenty of hotel stays, good credit, a good amount of reserves in the bank for a bad year and most importantly experience. Experience that cannot be obtained any other way than by opening a hive up at least 20,000 times a year. The closest thing it is like is a computer strategy game, you always make plans but so many unexpected things happen you plan changes week to week and day to day. You can make a decent living, but what is the cost of it all? It's a lifestyle, there's no other way around it, like dairy farming but more unpredictable. And if things go bad, there's no pension, there's no bailout and liquidating equipment will not get much money if there aren't bees in them. If you are up for the challenge, go and visit a commercial operation for a day or a week or long and still see if you are interested. Just my two cents

I graduated college and grad school fell through last minute and I was stuck after graduation without a full time job or a promise of further education. I got a phone call from a friend of mine I met at a church conference who's family does commercial beekeeping, he told me his father's friend in south Dakota needed help, that was on a Sunday, that Wednesday evening, I left Massachusetts and arrived in Huron, Sd Thursday evening and started on Friday morning, I've work at two other operations based in PA since then and truly enjoy the life of a migratory beekeeper.
 

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Square............ Bet you learned more since graduating than in the previous years. ( although it is and will be helpful )

Yours is the answer I didn't take time to type.......

The question I now propose is : What would you do if you could go in full time on your own?
 

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Yes I did, takes a special kind of gal to be a beekeeper's wife
As you stated in your previous statement about the dairy business I happened to be blessed with a dairyman's daughter as a wife. Her parents came from the "old country" after WW2 and by the later sixties were able to purchase a rinky dnk dairy in Washington. All the money left at the bottom of the milk can went for upgrades in the business for a very long time. Living such a dairy life was the what my wife needed to mentally prepared when she attached herself to a bee guy... IMO the dairy business sucks worse than bees. Its more stable but at least we get a day off every now and then. Those poor souls can't even look at a vacation planner...

If you do get married make sure she knows the ins and the outs before you jump the threshold...
 

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Yes I did, takes a special kind of gal to be a beekeeper's wife
My gal finally terminated all laundry services from our house hold. She pushed the old units out the door, bought in new washing appliances and told me to install a laundry service in my honey house. LOL reason why I have washer dryer service in my honey house now!

she is an opportunist, she did all this as I was in the process of building a new honey house facility!
 

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The question I now propose is : What would you do if you could go in full time on your own?
I'm planning on breaking off on my own within the next 12 months if all goes well, still overwintering with the Hackenbergs though, buy I certainly wouldn't go out and buy a semi load of bees before working for another beekeeper especially knowing what I know now. There's way way too many really expensive mistakes to be made if you don't know what your doing, and still there are expensive mistakes made when you've been in business for awhile
 

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My gal finally terminated all laundry services from our house hold.
Betcha they didn't teach that that would be coming in grad school...........

Fold and wash services provided by the resident 'honeybadger in charge" should be reimbursed at a rate at least 2x the price of honey. If we were all willing to cough up that much into the coin jar on the counter for all the "unpaid services rendered" all those unhappy wives with beeswax on the kitchen floor would be much happier campers....

I could say more but I think I hear a hive tool tumbling in the dryer and I really don't want a tear in my wife's veil!!!!!!!!!!! Got to go!!!!!!!!
 

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This is funny. We have a gas powered engine driven Maytag on our back porch which doesn't get used during the Winter. When I built my Honey House I had an electrical outlet for a washer and dryer installed just so we didn't have to go to the Laundramat. Nope, the Mrs. said she wouldn't use it. I guess she'd rather drive to town than walk across the street. Go figure.

No, she doesn't work bees w/ me either.
 

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Betcha they didn't teach that that would be coming in grad school...........
and I didnt tell her that she would be widowed every spring and summer season either! LOL


...she loves and hates the bees, loves they keep us going from year to year but hates the bees take priority over ALL...a true love hate relationship
 
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