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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thoughts from the pro's on letting the bees cashflow themselves on honey and nuc sales compared to borrowing money to purchase some hives?

I'm thinking that growing into it is the right way to go as I will learn along the way and avoid mistakes when the risk is highest.

Ultimate goal is a couple of semi loads per year going to pollinate almonds and perhaps cherries too.
 

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pseudoacacia,

good plan, let the bees fund more bees. Also will help you to grow with less cash inputs, efficiency is also important.
Making mistakes on 10 hives is better than 100, so buying a bunch of hives and then learn is the more risky way to get to your goal.

Good luck with your quest.
getting, Making queens down, is a good place to start for the growth angle.
Assuming you can get them over winter..

GG
 

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I think the amount of debt you are willing to undertake should be in direct proportion to the amount of experience you have had as a commercial beekeeper. Of course that creates a bit of a paradox -- how can I get experience without capital? Hell, if this were easy, everybody would be doing it.

I listened to Bob Binnie not too long ago tell horror story after horror story of sideliners quitting their jobs and mortgaging the house to go commercial, only to lose it all. I have been a beekeeper for 7 years and I currently run about 90 hives. I don't trust my skill set as a sideliner beekeeper enough to buy a $20,000 extraction line on credit.

The serious money it would take for trucks, fork lifts and buildings to step off into a commercial operation? I am at least a decade away from that type of confidence level.

I think your pay-as-you-go approach is very wise. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
The serious money it would take for trucks, fork lifts and buildings to step off into a commercial operation? I am at least a decade away from that type of confidence level.

Fortunately I have a truck, trailer and bobcat all paid for from my regular job, so I can handle palletized hives already. What I don't have is a building, which is probably doable in the next few years, and then a larger honey setup. I'm not afraid of making do with what I can afford as far as extraction equipment goes. I don't expect a cadillac setup in the first few years.


Is it a mistake to focus specifically on pollination? I know there is always going to be some honey to deal with. My thoughts are if I can sell enough honey to cash flow (which I have been doing with my current slow but steady growth), that if I extract less (within reason), that I can reduce the amount that I need to feed (within reason). I'm not planning to avoid honey of course, just not necessarily looking to extract every drop and then need to feed the heck out of them to get them through winter. Am I making a mistake by not squeezing out every drop?

I started grafting and producing my own queens last year. Man is that a satisfying process, to see a queen that you made go into a split and make an excellent thriving and producing hive. Also made a few duds and learned a lot.
 

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The most successful man I’ve ever brain-picked was hired as an accountant by an ag outfit with 35 employees in the 1970s and over 30 years turned it into the largest producer of its kind in the world with several thousand ppl making their living from the company.

One thing he said that sticks, “Borrowed capital is just debt that has to be serviced.” I could spend hours telling you stories of locals who made-good through consistently working good principles and expanding with the increase. I could also tell you of pain, and decade-long setbacks of folks who ran on borrowed money. I personally can’t think of a single person I know who is truly successful after borrowing their initial run.
 

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Fortunately I have a truck, trailer and bobcat all paid for from my regular job, so I can handle palletized hives already.
Then you are way ahead of the game and I am more than a little envious. I have a friend who has been a beekeeper for 3 years and sent about 50 hives to the almonds this year. He is a farmer, and like you, already had all of the equipment at his disposal.

Instead of borrowing, you could try to "car pool" with other local beekeepers to the almonds. You have the equipment, so they can pitch in more for the trailer usage. Sounds like you already have some leverage without borrowing money.
 

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When we started we were told to buy equipment and raise the bees. Great advise . Then we learned the OTS method went from 26 to 106 colonies that year. Keeping up with equipment has been greatest challenge .We purchase unassembled boxes (all deeps) and assembled frames with plastic foundation. Build the bottoms and tops because they are high cost even in bulk.I build the tops with a 1/2" rim and no inner cover.The only bees we have purchased lately is queens for the nuc. sales of usually 120 @ 185.00 each. (Carniolain We run around 200 colonies +- .
We chose to push nuc.sales over honey because of the expense of a good honey house and our location. My point is once a beekeeper learns to produce bees and keep them alive it doesn't take long to have a full load for almonds if that is your goal.
Rick
 
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