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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all!

I was wonder what yall thought. I know there are people that make money by honey sales alone. I know there are people that make money by bee sales alone.

If yall had to pick one or the other to be more profitable.....which one???

*clarifications --- I know this depends on location of apiary and how you keep bees. I am just wondering in general which are more profitable.
 

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As you point out, lots of variables....but I get the impression that there's more money in bees and that the honey is often viewed as a bonus byproduct but not the primary money maker.

As someone once put it, if you want to make money in a goldrush, sell shovels. :D
 

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Much depends on how you go about selling - the price of bees seems to be on an upward spiral. The price of honey is more fickle, but has been trending upward of late. Don't forget pollination. If you can lock in to contracts at to you good prices in advance you can make plans based on your projected income. Same with nuc sales. Honey is harder to predict and can be very time consuming but lucrative if you sell at retail.

If I had to pick one and I was confident in my ability to deliver I'd choose pollination. And then I would work to arrange things well in advance. Extra capacity can be dealt with last minute, but you can't predict pricing.
 

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A truly wise business man/woman would find money by diversification as you don't always need what's most lucrative, but rather a continual year round paycheck! Good luck with growing your business into what you need it to be.
 

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A truly wise business man/woman would find money by diversification as you don't always need what's most lucrative, but rather a continual year round paycheck!
That pretty much answers your question but it is much easier to sell honey than bees. So for starting the business as a hobby and expanding it into a real business honey is the way to go. Time, which equates to experience makes selling bees easier. I think the hardest thing to do is secure pollination contracts and probably the most risky because of the migratory nature of the business.
 

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I mean nucs and hives you split to sell and overwintering. Honey can be sold any time of the year and won't go bad. Say you split hives and don't get any honey. There is chance that the bees die, wheras if you harvest the honey, you still have it.
 

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Everything with bees has a profit margin if you keep most of the bees alive AND manage the income correctly.
From cutouts to swarm removals, to honey sales and pollination contracts, to used equipment sales..... it's all profitable.
It can also be a year round endeavor if you plan accordingly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the input yall. It seems to be divided down the middle.
I guess what I am wondering is what do the commercial guys concentrate on. I agree diversify but it would seem like it would be more one way or the other. Selling bees obviously takes away honey because you don't have the number of bees to make honey.
 

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I would say that it's like real estate. Location? Location? Location? If you are in South DAkota surrounded by alphalfa or clover then maybe honey is best for you. If you are here in Misery where average harvests are pretty small and surplus honey is done by end of June, then maybe making bees is better for you. But to some extent you should be able to have your cake and eat it too. I make bees and generally have some honey left over that can be sold.
 

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You will almost always be better at what you enjoy. Which is more challenging or interesting to you? Of course if you pursue both you are covering your bases better.

I am in it for the bees. Beyond producing enough honey for me and family members consumption....honey is a nuisance. I have no desire or inclination to market honey. I have no patience to sit at a farmers market or at a promising intersection. I am a busy person! So selling nucs to beekeepers is much more my thing than trying to peddle honey.
 

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as an overly excited newbee, still waiting for my first packages, this thread is great, at work I daydream about walking out and raising bees, but I find I have to do a reality check and tell myself maybe I should
get some more experience first. Queen rearing is an area I'd love to get into, but I'm not sure my local is the best for that, but I could be wrong, Higher altitude queens may be a good niche.
 

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I agree with David here.
It is not what you want to do but what your location can support.
In a good location you can do both. Some just choose to grow bees because that is what they
are good at and their location support this effort. If you find an area that produce lots of honey
every year in a good environment then do that. I would say to do both and see how things turn out
for you. By jumping in you will see the answer to this question in a couple of seasons. And don't quit
your day job either. Day dreaming and reality check is not the same outcome. Just take a look at the
recent winter loss.
 

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I know NUCs are mostly over wintered and sold in the spring. What about swarms or splits that are caught or made in the spring, and then when the Q starts laying and has some brood, put them up for sale then? Would that work, or would that be to late? I've have had plenty swarms that built up great before winter, but I live in South Carolina.

dan
 

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Thanks for the input yall. It seems to be divided down the middle.
I guess what I am wondering is what do the commercial guys concentrate on. I agree diversify but it would seem like it would be more one way or the other. Selling bees obviously takes away honey because you don't have the number of bees to make honey.
Most commercial operators do pollination and run for honey. A few also sell NUCs, however the majority of them that I know don't mess with selling NUCs or package bees, however they do allow package producers to shake their bees. Personally I do all 3, but a lot of the guys I know don't want to be bothered with selling bottled honey or dealing with customers for NUC sales. In fact the 2 commercial guys I know that sell NUCs wholesale the NUCs out so they don't deal with customers directly.
 

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I know NUCs are mostly over wintered and sold in the spring. What about swarms or splits that are caught or made in the spring, and then when the Q starts laying and has some brood, put them up for sale then? Would that work, or would that be to late? I've have had plenty swarms that built up great before winter, but I live in South Carolina.

dan
I think most nucs sold around here are basicly spring splits - or packages put on drawn foundation and built up for 3 weeks or so. One commercial guy I know of takes his bees South, makes up nucs there, and brings the nucs (and the rest of the bees) back to Maine and once the nucs have built up to his satisfaction they are sold. Over wintered nucs are fairly rare, command premium pricing, and often require beyond beginner management.
 

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Hello all!

I was wonder what yall thought. I know there are people that make money by honey sales alone. I know there are people that make money by bee sales alone.

If yall had to pick one or the other to be more profitable.....which one???

*clarifications --- I know this depends on location of apiary and how you keep bees. I am just wondering in general which are more profitable.
Depends on what you are good at also. Depends on your customer base too. Selling bees and/or queens can be seasonal whereas honey sales can go on all year around.

If you are good at business you'll probably find that a combination of all aspects of beekeeping work well and can bring in income.
 
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