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Author Topic: Cut-out question: What to charge?  (Read 2875 times)
2Sox
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« on: May 08, 2012, 09:35:01 PM »

Hi All,

This question has really puzzled me. I find it very difficult to figure out what number a homeowner has in their mind to pay someone to remove bees from their dwelling.  If I give a low figure, I regret it and feel resentful because I know how much work is involved.  If I give what I think is a fair price, I'm afraid I'll scare someone off - which seems to happen more often than I'd like to think.  I say seems because after I submit a proposal, I sometimes don't hear back from a person.  

I'd imagine this question has come up before, but I see no harm in bringing it up now - especially with the number of swarms and household bee colonies rising dramatically in the last two seasons.
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« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2012, 09:51:57 PM »

How much is your day worth?   
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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2012, 09:53:40 PM »

And don't forget about the cost of tools, equipment, transportation, and office time.
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« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2012, 09:56:23 PM »

and you have to stay competitive with exterminators ive found.. which here is 200-260.. real killers.
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« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2012, 10:04:04 PM »

Allen F,

Well, that's the question, isn't it?  What I feel my day is worth, might not be what someone is willing to pay.  So I either bite my tongue and work for less, or hold fast and get less work and less bees.  I lean more for holding fast.

My question remains: What do other folks charge?  By the job, by the hour?  I have two minimums depending on where I have to travel and how challenging the job is? $260 minimum which covers 3 hours and $45 per hour after that.  Then $360 minimum for three hours and $55 per hour after that. And if I bring a helper, my rates might be a little higher than that.  I'm learning all the time that a good extraction takes knowledge and skill.  I learn every time I do one.  People pay much more than this for plumbers and electricians and don't bat an eye.  Why not for a beekeeper who knows what he's doing?

What about you?
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« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2012, 10:15:01 PM »

I work in many areas and I usually see that if people are from the city they are more likely to pay what I ask.  Second homeowners in rural locales fall into this category.  From the people who are from the rural areas, it's very difficult for me to get my price.
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« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2012, 10:30:46 PM »

I do this for most of my income about 9 & 1/2 to 10 months of the year, weather permitting. I have to be competitive but fair to my customer & myself. I believe you have the right idea on what to charge. As mentioned people in rural areas cannot usually afford to pay what people living in a big city can afford to pay, so you will have to either adjust accordingly or get what jobs you can.

There are far easier ways to attain bees than removing them from structures.


...JP
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« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2012, 11:23:42 PM »

I have been going back and forth on this subject too. I think we need to be somewhat flexible depending on the circumstances. Right now I am charging a $300 for the first seven hours and $35/hour after that, plus $5/mile beyond 25 driving miles. My problem is the people want to spend too much time talking, and I am still learning the "job". It's the cleaning up of the wax, honey, and propolis that seems to take a while. I also do some basic repairs to get it sealed up afterwards. My last job was an example of being flexible. The H.O. was now well off, so I only charged him the $35 per hour, and he is handling all the cleanup and repairs. That job totalled $205 for 5.5 hours.
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« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2012, 11:25:30 PM »

The H.O. was now well off,
Oops! I meant NOT well off!
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« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2012, 08:53:10 AM »

I'm a sideliner and can only do about a 12 - 15 a year and keep my day job, so I cherry pick the work in areas of the city where they can afford to pay what I think the jobs are worth.

I have a couple of guys, who are mostly interested in just getting the bees, that I refer jobs to those that can't afford to pay.

   
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« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2012, 09:37:54 AM »

and i drive them crazy here, because most of  mine i do for free or the cost of the gas to get there.  but...it's a hobby for me.  i don't do many.  most are on farms or old outbuildings and stuff.  i don't have to worry about my time. 

seriously though, before you go charging anything for anything, make sure you know the laws and the players in your area.  one of the reasons i don't do (most) houses that i get called on, is the flipping unions.  they went after some handyman types.  old guys just supplementing their incomes with minor repairs and stuff.  they followed them around, took pictures of what they were doing, hassled them, and sued them.

when the union thug was interviewed about it he said that if you were going to pick up a tool and work on a house...and get paid to do it, they were going to come after you if you were not a union member.  not worth the hassle to me or the jail time for shooting the SOB if he got in my face. 
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« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2012, 11:03:09 AM »

Like JP I too derive my living from removals, though as NWCO I also deal with every other species of wildlife as well. For me though the bees are very fast overtaking everything else I do. At this point I am avoiding everything other than bat work at this time of year.
Pricing questions used to cause me to go into a hair pulling fit but now I just shake my head and wish you luck with it. The prices already quoted in this thread are a prime example. If I'm not hitting the 100/hr rate with my prices, on any species, I might as well park the truck. When you consider my fuel, materials, advertising, insurance, uniforms, phone, meals, maintenance and various sundry taxes and other costs such as licenses and permits I'm already in the hole befire my phone even rings.
If the hundred dollar mark causes you to blink or think how do I justify lawyer rates let me remind you that as a beekeeper, and not just any beekeeper, that has the skill and knowledge to safely remove a living colony of stinging insects that your knowledge has actual marketable value. Why should you give it away or sell yourself short. We are a valuable commodity and should be paid accordingly. JP, is right there are much easier and cheaper ways to aquire bees. Heck, as a beek with just a modicum of skill splits will procide you with all the bees you could ever want.
I now quote my fees over the phone this way. After quuzzing the potential client about size, location, length of occupation, construction materials, history, etc I clearlyvstate that I have a base price of 650 for most residential work. This quoted price may go up if upon arrival it is determined that difficulties or out of the ordinary circumstances exist. If this happens to be the case the adjusted fee will be quoted and agreed upon before any work begins. I also reserve the sole right to lower fees as well.
Before anyone squalls do a google search for bee removal in my market. My quoted fees are in line with our well known bee remover from Athens and others. I also have a better than eighty percent sales rate on bee removal calls.
If anything I urge all my fellow beeks to realize just how special our skills are.
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« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2012, 11:15:47 AM »

Am I incorrect, but only three other people at this point gave actual numbers in answer to my original question - Kathy P and gardeningfireman, and David McLeod?  

My guess is that others don't reveal their numbers readily because if there is a bid in your area, you don't want the competition to know what you charge.  Understandable.

Kathy, I can see why you would drive the other beekeepers crazy. In my opinion, everyone is entitled to a fair wage for a fair day's work. And people should expect to pay.  If I ever get someone who starts with the story that I'm getting free bees anyway - the conversation ends right there. They'll be searching long and hard for someone to do the job.


David McLeod, I respect your approach to all this and I think it's sensible and it's good advice. It sure encourages me.

Has anyone ever thought of a Beekeeper's Union....?
« Last Edit: May 09, 2012, 11:41:15 AM by 2Sox » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2012, 12:13:55 PM »

2sox, I was taught to guard methods and pricing as trade secrets and played the back stabbing fly under the radar game to long. All the while I smugly thought I somehow was the very best ptifessional while bitterly complaining about the the lack of standards within the industry and deplirable level of quality displayed by my "competition".
How little did I know that it was I that was the snotty little POS that was holding back my industry by not sharing and seeking to raise the bar of quality service across the industry. Fir that I am truly ashamed. Today I am proud to say that I will glady assist anyone with a willingness to do this work the best they can. It only by doing this that I can see the overall level of quality go up industrywide.

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« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2012, 01:31:52 PM »

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In my opinion, everyone is entitled to a fair wage for a fair day's work

sure, but i get to define what is fair for me.  Wink  i enjoy cutouts.  i don't do many.  i like doing the farms and old ladies sheds.  i very often get fed.  money is almost always offered above what i might ask for to pay the gas.  i get to meet great people.  and....i am not like some here.  this is not a business for me, it's a hobby.  +, to my knowledge, there are only two of us in the area who do them.  i refer plenty to the other person and i know he does charge. 
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« Reply #15 on: May 09, 2012, 08:43:57 PM »

Kathy, I used to get all bent out of shape for that but now I just sit back and let it go. To each his own and if the pleasure of doing a cut out is your reward then I am more than happy for you. Contrary to all the doom and gloom there are more than enough bees to go around and I can not save them all.
My only issue now is the occasional hobbiest that for whatever assinine reason has it out for anyone who makes a living with bees. I've heard from more than one potential client that "the beekeeper said that you should never have to pay to remove bees". That I still find to be patently wrong. Why should anyone expect a service and not have to pay for it.
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« Reply #16 on: May 09, 2012, 10:54:04 PM »

most people who do cutouts for free very quickly learn not to. LOL especially down south!  grin  The biggest thing I come across is like I mentioned before, people are more apt to compare your service to an exterminators. it started around 260 to exterminate but for some reason has actually fallen to 200 recently..
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« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2012, 12:39:42 AM »

duck, that's not really problem in Georgia. All of our PCOs take one look abd tell the client that it's illegal to kill the state insect. It aint and I aint telling them otherwise.
Does Texas have a kill on sight order like Florida? I know the PCOs literally make a killing south of me.
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« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2012, 04:20:33 AM »

The only reason I do them really is for the genetics.  Most people seem to think you should do it for free or they should charge YOU.  It's never worth it from the point of view of the hours spent and the number of bees you end up with, at lest not if you are gainfully employed at the time.  The gas alone is usually worth more than the bees.  If they pay you by the hour and the mile, you can come out on it.
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« Reply #19 on: May 10, 2012, 05:15:16 AM »

Am I incorrect, but only three other people at this point gave actual numbers in answer to my original question - Kathy P and gardeningfireman, and David McLeod?  

My guess is that others don't reveal their numbers readily because if there is a bid in your area, you don't want the competition to know what you charge.  Understandable.

Kathy, I can see why you would drive the other beekeepers crazy. In my opinion, everyone is entitled to a fair wage for a fair day's work. And people should expect to pay. If I ever get someone who starts with the story that I'm getting free bees anyway - the conversation ends right there. They'll be searching long and hard for someone to do the job.


David McLeod, I respect your approach to all this and I think it's sensible and it's good advice. It sure encourages me.

Has anyone ever thought of a Beekeeper's Union....?



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« Reply #20 on: May 10, 2012, 06:36:39 AM »

Jim,

I'm trying real hard but I don't see the humor in what you highlighted in red.  Please fill us in.  Thanks.
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« Reply #21 on: May 10, 2012, 08:37:42 AM »

I think he means that some people feel that the bees we get are payment enough.
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« Reply #22 on: May 10, 2012, 08:45:33 AM »

Am I incorrect, but only three other people at this point gave actual numbers in answer to my original question - Kathy P and gardeningfireman, and David McLeod?  

My guess is that others don't reveal their numbers readily because if there is a bid in your area, you don't want the competition to know what you charge.  Understandable.

Kathy, I can see why you would drive the other beekeepers crazy. In my opinion, everyone is entitled to a fair wage for a fair day's work. And people should expect to pay.  If I ever get someone who starts with the story that I'm getting free bees anyway - the conversation ends right there. They'll be searching long and hard for someone to do the job.


David McLeod, I respect your approach to all this and I think it's sensible and it's good advice. It sure encourages me.

Has anyone ever thought of a Beekeeper's Union....?

Every market is different. We are trying to answer your question & concerns but can't decide for you what you think your time is worth. Find out what the going rate is in YOUR area to get an idea of what others are charging & go from there.

I don't have a set minimum or maximum but if you want to pin me down, this is the best answer I can give you. My prices start at $200.00 usually but could be lower depending on the H.O.'s financial situation. In MY area my competition usually has an average price of $400.00 or more starting price at least that is what people tell me.


...JP
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« Reply #23 on: May 10, 2012, 04:58:48 PM »

JP,

You are absolutely right about that: Each market is different and each of us has to find out what the going rate is in our own respective area.  Actually, I'm doing just that - communicating with other beekeepers in the area - but I'd also like to know what's going on in other places.  It gives a perspective to things. 

I agree that we each have to decide what our labor and time is worth. Listening to you all helps me see how close or how far off I am with my rates. And I also think there is nothing at all wrong with lowering a price because of a homeowners situation.  Everyone's input is helping me with this.   
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« Reply #24 on: May 10, 2012, 07:03:35 PM »

I tell folks that cut outs start at $200 and that I will quote the job when I inspect it. Most hit around the $200 mark but I've had them go much higher. If I get there and it's obvious that they are struggling I'll usually do it for gas money...don't want to loose cash for doing someone a favor!

If I pull up and they have two Mercedes in the drive way I stand firm on my quote...even if they swear that they are broke!

I don't quote an hourly rate. That's the fastest way to run them off.

Scott
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« Reply #25 on: May 10, 2012, 08:45:30 PM »

Quote
. If I ever get someone who starts with the story that I'm getting free bees anyway - the conversation ends right there. They'll be searching long and hard for someone to do the job.

we all get those.  i like the ones that start with the tears..."i have called a bunch of people and no one wants to help me". 
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

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« Reply #26 on: May 10, 2012, 10:36:56 PM »

  A good rule of thumb is that about 10% of the callers should say you are too high priced.
  Some will pay any price, some will have to give it some serious thought and some want it done for free.
  If you charge at all then remember YOU are the professional. Do you bicker prices with the electrician or mechanic? You have as much right to a fair return as they do. If you charge too little you look stupid for doing all that work for so little. Charge a fair price based on the work you do, or do it for fun and just ask expenses.   
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« Reply #27 on: May 26, 2012, 10:53:33 PM »

I charge $250.00 min. price goes up the higher the hive. That includes initial visit, extraction and follow up visit if needed for stragglers. I do no repairs.  If thats too much I walk away.
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« Reply #28 on: May 26, 2012, 11:41:31 PM »

I just had the municipality that I work for ask me about removing bees from a city tree for free. Lips Sealed The forester for the city said that a local beekeeper in the county south of me removed bees just a year or two ago for free. that he just wanted the bees and that I wanted to much to remove the bees. I told Him this. : OK I would do It for Free IF he as a forester would come to a Property with 250 acres of Trees and do a timber survey and get the Mayor who was a attorney to write up a purchase contract for timber rights for me for FREE. He Said that he could not do that for Free and that I would have to pay someone to do that. I SAID exactly!"Call me when you want me to remove them and the price may go up if I have to change my schedule to do the removal.

John
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« Reply #29 on: May 27, 2012, 12:05:41 AM »

After doing a few cut outs so far and understanding what it takes and the time involved I priced a job with three hives in one house and figured on 400 a hive and the owner had no problem beings I was cheaper than someone else  that quoted them and figure it may take a hive a day. That is for removal only and owner will make repairs after.
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« Reply #30 on: May 27, 2012, 10:25:43 PM »

When I was going to "How to start and run a business  101" they t aught us how to price our wares/services. 
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« Reply #31 on: May 29, 2012, 03:39:02 AM »

Jim,

I'm trying real hard but I don't see the humor in what you highlighted in red.  Please fill us in.  Thanks.

Am I incorrect, but only three other people at this point gave actual numbers in answer to my original question - Kathy P and gardeningfireman, and David McLeod? 

My guess is that others don't reveal their numbers readily because if there is a bid in your area, you don't want the competition to know what you charge.  Understandable.

Kathy, I can see why you would drive the other beekeepers crazy. In my opinion, everyone is entitled to a fair wage for a fair day's work. And people should expect to pay. If I ever get someone who starts with the story that I'm getting free bees anyway - the conversation ends right there. They'll be searching long and hard for someone to do the job.


David McLeod, I respect your approach to all this and I think it's sensible and it's good advice. It sure encourages me.

Has anyone ever thought of a Beekeeper's Union....?



 lau lau lau lau lau lau lau lau lau



    BEE HAPPY Jim 134 Smiley
After all you are getting free bees and all that honey.Yes and I get my gas and time are free to.Run away at will cost you a lot $$$$  and time oh I forgot you work for free,Just my $0.02
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"Tell me and I'll forget,show me and I may  remember,involve me and I'll understand"
        Chinese Proverb

"The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways."
 John F. Kennedy
Franklin County Beekeepers Association MA. http://www.franklinmabeekeepers.org/
BlevinsBees
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« Reply #32 on: May 29, 2012, 04:33:57 AM »

I charge $75.00 an hour for residential and $125 for commercial with a two hour minimum.
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President, San Francisco Beekeepers Association
habitatforhoneybees.com
superhoney
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« Reply #33 on: May 30, 2012, 01:09:19 PM »

Hello all,
I just started this year collecting bees from swarms, cutouts, and trapouts. So far I've only had 3 tree calls so that's all I've figured out thus far. I have decided that $50/hr is good for me and more than I have ever earned per hour in my life, and I came from the IT industry. It only takes me about an hour to setup a trap-out (so far) and I also charge for gas and other 'incidental charges' like lumber, hardware cloth, screws etc. And I do visit a couple of times to check up on it and charge the gas for those visits.

I live in a rural area and so far all of my customers are retired and I took that into consideration while trying to demystify pricing for myself. So far I haven't gotten onto any of the big big ranches out here that are owned by millionaires so I can't tell if their attitude would increase my price or not although I would be open to doing so if they get pricky.

I have not gotten the "but you are getting free bees" rhetoric yet, but I think JP said in another post something about #1 I am removing a 'pest' to you and some other good points about how this is a service, not a favor. So far all my calls are from people who have been stung and I play on that as them being a pest that I will remove for them, and again so far haven't had anyone balk at my price which could be low but seems to fit for here, and of course I get the free bees.  tongue

See ya!
Superhoney!
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hardwood
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Alysian Apiaries youtube.com/MrBeedude


« Reply #34 on: May 30, 2012, 03:31:45 PM »

I just posted a video of a removal I named "Michelle's bees" in the removal section. We did that one for free. You can see the run-down mobile home in the background. Nice folks but no money. It was a pleasure to help them out! They told me that they'd give me $20 for the effort but that I'd have to wait until the could come up with it...I'm not holding my breath.

Scott
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"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...And we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

Theodore Roosevelt 1907
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« Reply #35 on: May 30, 2012, 10:59:09 PM »

We charge 150.00 for first two hours and 50hr from there.  This includes drive time from and to.  We are also licensed and insured for 1 million.  And we do not do any repairs YET.  If I ever get time we may start.  We take swarms for free long as its close. Some of the best hives ive got is from swarms and cutouts.  Doing one for over 800.00 tomorrow which includes starter kit and owner wants the bees hived. It also requires a bucket truck and two people.
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www.Valleybeesupply.com
"A responsible beekeeper is a successful one"
Shane C.
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