Do you want to know how much it costs to run a bee keeping business? If YES, here are some expenses to take note of when running your bee keeping business. Beekeeping can be a lucrative and very fulfilling venture. You can successfully start and run a beekeeping business even without prior experience in business or in beekeeping – as long as you are willing to learn.
Potential beekeepers tend to ask themselves the question of cost. It is natural that you want to know what the cost of beekeeping is and how much you will need to start the business. While beekeeping is an edifying career, it is also a lot of work.
If you are passionate about being at one with nature and thrive on continuously learning and growing, beekeeping can be a wonderful business to enter. Since you can only collect honey from your hives during certain times of the year, your daily activities will vary from season to season.
Beekeeping is a form of animal husbandry, so have it in mind that you will spend time providing feed when nectar and pollen supplies are low, preventing infections and parasitic mites, and minimizing the effects of Africanized Bees. When available, you will collect honey and honeycomb, turning them into products such as lotion and Chap Stick.
Since this is a very unique profession, you will also want to spend a good deal of time marketing, and looking for new opportunities to make a name for yourself and your products. Except for when you are out selling your products, much of your time will be spent alone, so it is necessary that you enjoy the solitude.
Have it in mind that each colony has different behaviors and react differently to their surroundings, so beekeepers are expected to be detail-oriented, with a love of constantly learning new things. Patience is necessary for this profession. It also doesn’t hurt to have a calm personality – animals feed off our energy and bees are no different.
Well-maintained beehives often last for more than 30 years, significantly lowering your ongoing expenses. Annual costs for additional supplies should run about $80-$100 per hive, depending upon your specific needs. When you add up the cost of the beehive and its tools and accessories, you will realize that beekeeping is an affordable venture when compared to the benefits you will reap in the long run.
What are the Ongoing Operating Expenses for a Beekeeping Business in 2021?
Table of Content
Lease or Rent
A beekeeping operation tends to require a warehouse or base facility for equipment assembly, storage, and other operations. The facility is expected to be secure, weatherproof, and bee-proof. Bees are not stored in the facility and they must be prevented from entering it. Honey bees will collect unprotected honey and cause chaos if buildings are not completely sealed.
A typical warehouse facility for a beekeeping operation has an employee break room, restroom, office space, woodworking area, chemical storage, and equipment storage. Warehouse space used for building and repairing woodenware should be designed to prevent sawdust and other debris from contaminating honey or stored equipment. The cost of building a warehouse varies considerably.
Mite Control (Cost: $20-$200)
Note that mite control costs will range from $20-$200 depending on the method of treatment. This is very important in the fight against varroa mites and tracheal mites. Notably, this is one of the biggest challenges that a beekeeper will face. A lot of effort is going into studying these parasites because they have caused a lot of damage to the bee population in the U.S. Depending on the hive that you have, you may want to trade in your solid board for a screened board.
Screened boards are a safe way to monitor mite levels without the excessive use of chemicals. Once the mite falls off the bee, it falls past the screen and sticks to the tray below it. This keeps it from climbing back into the hive and infecting the other Bees. Note that this is only one way to manage the infestation and you may need to invest in many others to keep your colony strong and healthy.
Sugar and Feeds
As the debate on the use of sugar water/syrup and candy wages on, you still have to prepare yourself to help your bees get established. Even though honey is the best food for bees, you can’t always guarantee the quality of honey if you didn’t harvest it yourself. With time, you will be in a position to freeze some frames of honey for such occasions, but that won’t happen in your first year.
If the weather is favorable, then you may only need to feed your bees for the first month or so. If it is a strong colony and the land is flowing with nectar, they could be self-reliant in no time. Also depending on where you are, one hive can require over 90 pounds of honey to get through the winter. If your bees haven’t managed to get their stores up, they will need you to get them through the freezing weather by feeding them.
Four pounds of sugar won’t get you through, so it is imperative to start or keep stocking up. When the temperature falls below 50°F, the bees will not drink sugar water, and you will need to provide them with an alternative. This is in the form of candy, fondant, slurry, or dry sugar. However, when feeding them dry sugar, you would need to get the baker’s variety because it has very fine crystals. Any other type of sugar may be thrown out by the bees. Unrefined sugar isn’t good for bees and can cause bee dysentery.
Marketing of Beekeeping Products
With a product, there must be marketing efforts. But you will incur a cost when marketing your bee products. The cost incurred will also vary by the type of marketing activities you carry out. With a website and social media setup, marketing online is easy and not costly.
Then as your beekeeping business grows, you can then venture into other large scale marketing activities. Other small and low cost marketing avenues you can explore are beekeeping clubs, flea market sales, and exhibitions of agricultural and allied products.
Have consistent and attractive branding of your beehive products to make them easy to sell. In addition, price the products well to compete with other beehive products in the market. Note that you do not have to undercut all other sellers of beehive products. At the same time, try to find a balance of price so that you are attractive with your prices but you make enough money from the products to make the business profitable.
5. Time Cost
When someone asks about the cost of beekeeping they mean dollars and cents. However, there is another cost…time. This includes the time you spend researching about beekeeping itself or finding out information that is important for your business. Once you have started beekeeping, hive maintenance and other activities will take up your time. Beekeepers that build their own equipment such as beehive boxes instead of buying them take up more time getting everything ready.
As the owner of the beekeeping business, remember to log the time spent in beekeeping. You can look at the total time spent in beekeeping at the end of the year and see if the operation would be able to pay for the hours put in.
The cost of running a beekeeping business depends on many factors. In addition to ongoing costs, there will be unexpected costs. It is not unusual to lose colonies over winter. Replacing bees is expensive. However, knowing what to expect, you can better budget for costs and make informed choices about where your dollars are best spent. Also, as you gain experience and knowledge, you will find ways to lower expenses without hurting your apiary.