Profitability of bees

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by justgojumpit, May 18, 2004.

  1. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    Hey everyone! I have a question for those of you who have been keeping bees for some time.

    What kind of money is there to be made in beekeeping?

    I have roughly $500 invested in three hives, including all of my equipment and my bees. I am totaling at three hives, two langstroth and one top-bar hive (my own construction, which is going very nicely) I have found someone to sell my honey for me once I get it, and I will be doing chunk comb honey in small mason jars, and probably some squeeze bears. In a good year, how much money is there to be made keeping bees? There is something blooming pretty much all year hear, but i know i missed some of the main nectar flows this spring because i just got my bees may 8th. Is it possible to have this investment paid off with this year's honey crop? the bees have about 8 frames to go before they have drawn out all the comb in their two deep brood boxes, and then they will need their first supers (i started with nine drawn frames per lang. hive). they have completely filled all their cells so far with nectar/sugar syrup, except the ones for eggs and brood. How much honey do you get out of a medium super, ten frames. next year i'll do nine, but i can't yet this year because they're all foundation.

    Will I at least be making money next year? I also plan to sell some splits after the main nectar flow in the spring, taking two frames from each of my lang hives,adding a frame of foundation, and putting these in a nuc box. I'll do one shared split at a time to minimize impact on my own hives. What do you all think?

    thanks, justgojumpit
     
  2. brosil

    brosil Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Can you make money with bees? Yes. How much usually depends on how many hives. We get about 50-60lbs in a medium per year. You can sell that in bulk for about $1lb. We average 4 full mediums per hive per year. I doubt if we put more than 8 hrs labor in a hive per year with extracting.
    Of course, you have to factor in queen replacements and total hive losses along with all the other expenses but I still think it's a good deal. One note, around here , anyone with less than 500 hives is considered a hobbiest.
     

  3. CJ

    CJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We're hoping that eventually our bees will produce income for us. I think the way to go is add a few hives each year as you build your market, or add hives according to your market prediction (be that what it may).

    We've got just our 2 hives right now, but really hope to add 4 more this fall.
     
  4. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    I don't have time for too long a reply but here goes.....

    For the past couple seasons honey prices have been high....highest they have been in a long time. This is due to a combination of factors.

    I'm one of those pessimists and am wary of prices dropping again. As Brosil pointed out, bulk honey is going for $1 per pound (ballpark). 3-4 years ago it was more like 60 cents per pound.

    Traditionally, pollination has driven the economics of the beekeeping business. How else can you justify moving a million hives into california for pollinating the almond crop.

    You also have to consider other products you can produce from beekeeping. This includes pollen, beeswax and propylis.

    One of the other things to consider is the pollination services your bees can provide (yourself) for other crops. We are slowly building up an orchard containing apples, pears, peaches, plums and apricots. We also have an area of about 3 acres that we plan on putting in blackberries and rasberries.

    I've laid out my own economics (to a certain extent) in other posts.

    Mike
     
  5. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Here in Kansas, average yield is 65 pounds per hive.

    Right now, honey is selling for $3 to $4 a pound. I intend to try leaving honey at consignment at $2 a 12 oz. bear. I hope to NET $2 a pound, for a return per hive of $130. I am starting small, so I will be keeping my splits for a while.

    That is, assuming the drougth doesn't return, we continue to bar Chinese honey from our shores, and many other beekeeper continue to lose their battle with the mites (and assuming that I do not! :eek: )

    These are some of the reasons the price of honey is up. That won't last forever, but I hope to be in a position of enjoying the current high price of honey soon.

    Oh, yes, it is an exceptional year in Kansas for a hive to have honey to harvest in the first year. Of COURSE, I am HOPING for a little honey to sell, but I am not hlding my breath! :p
     
  6. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Jumpforit-

    Check the archives for previous posts concerning profitability. As Mike said, much of this has been covered before. To give a rough idea, in my area, my goal is $300 profit per hive per year. This includes income from pollination and extracted honey as well as the sale of a few nucs each year. If I ever get around to making and selling candles I would expect a slightly higher return per hive. In order to realize this amount of profit I must sell most of my honey direct at a minimum of $3.50/pound. Mike has posted some excellent information concerning packaging and marketing.

    A medium super yields around 21 pints of honey (this is how I package mine, in pint canning jars). I do have some honey, usually from the fall flow, which I do not consider to be table grade, so I sell it to a packer by the barrel and lately have gotten around $1.10-1.25/lb. for it.

    If you are new to beekeeping, and plan to sell your honey, check to see if your county offers an ag exemption for beekeeping. Mine does, and I save over $3000 on my property taxes.

    Personally, I would not waste my time producing honey to sell at $1 or $2/lb. I am actually unhappy with $3.50/lb but have been too busy with family obligations to initiate any changes right now. If you are producing good local honey you should get a MINIMUM of $3.50/pound. If you don't think your honey is worth that much try buying some at the grocery store and compare it to yours- I'd be very suprised if there were not a dramatic difference in flavor. Don't sell youself short- you are making an investment both in equipment/bees and your own labor and you are entitled to a decent rate of return on that investment.
     
  7. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    thanks for the info. I am planning on getting $5.00 per pound for my honey average, more for little bears. How much could i plan on making per year at these prices?

    thanks

    justgojumpit
     
  8. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    the real big money is pollination services down here its about 45.00 a hive per crop then X # of hives per acre. then multiply that by 3-4 crops a yr. plus the honey sales and there is money. for example watermelons 7 hives is a minumum there are 4 to a pallet times the number of acres it adds up a 30 acre feild can require up to 50-60 hives by the$45.00 price ,and then if you plant say clover or buckwheat for the bees you have a larger honey flow.
     
  9. rainesridgefarm

    rainesridgefarm Well-Known Member

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    Ah yes, money i want the money. no honey and no money or as my wife says no money, no honey. profit is a difficult answer for beekeepers because different people put in different costs to their operations. I just built a $20,000 honey house last year that is going to take another $9,000 to finish this year. Plus the 50 quees for splits plus the 30 packages for new out yards it all adds up. You can spread the cost over a couple of years so you are profitable the second year. $5.00 a pound is a little high but if the market will pay it then charge it, but if they buy some from you and get the same quality from another beekeeper in the area for 3.50 you lost that customer. If you average 100 pounds that is $350 worth of honey at retail. your labor, packaging, electricity etc can all add up. If you can clear $2.00 a pound you are doing very well. But I feel retail is the way to go.
     
  10. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    rainesridgefarm,

    Care to talk a bit about hour honeyhouse design, layout and issues you wrassled with?

    I have a 30x50 pole barn that I am going to be making into a honeyhouse and storage area for woodenware. The barn was built just before I purchase the property and currently has a dirt floor. I have 14" clearance on the overhead door and at the other end it is raised up so if we do a loft we can have 2 stories.
    There is 200 amp service to the barn but no internal panel or wiring is in.

    I'm figuring on an extracting room, a packing room, a kitchen area, possibly a walk-in cooler/freezer and an office area with a bathroom, shower and lockers. I'm still playing with the dimensions of each area. My current plan is a 4 inch reinforced cement floor.

    One consideration is that I may want to use it for other things such as packing walnuts or other food products. We do have 2 other barns as well.

    Mike
     
  11. rainesridgefarm

    rainesridgefarm Well-Known Member

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    Well it is 40x48 with a 8 foot lean to on the front. 200 amp service is a must with lights and all the motors you could be running. Part of the area is going to be 25 x 12 for the extracting and bottling area. 15 x 12 will be retail area. The rest is open for the wood shop and super storage. I have the ispector coming over to help me plot out what I need for proper code for bottling area and retail sales. All I can say is double the amount you think you need to spend and you should be on target.