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Author Topic: Thinking about starting honey business  (Read 4823 times)
vistin
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« on: January 25, 2007, 12:56:37 AM »

My wife and I are thinking about starting a honey business. Can you tell us how profitable this venture can be? Plus, please share all your knowledge on how to start. We are studying everything we can on the subject.
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Finsky
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« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2007, 01:21:54 AM »

It is sure hat to beginner it is not profitable. Beekeeping has been under competition tens of years. Bye a book Bad Beekeeping. There succesfull beekeeper tells about his job.

The biggest cost is that you need land, stores and barns where you keep all stuff you need in job.

It takes many years to learn the job, like in many other job too.

It is better to start in small scale 10-20 hives and when you se that now it goes, you are wise enough to calculate are you going to live with it.  Then it is better to go with some professional and you will se what kind of duty you have ahead.

I have 20 hives. I told our biggest beekeeper that I hade no time enough to go through 20 hives during weekend and now i must return to my cottage to handle the rest.

He said:" Oh boy! We handled today 450 hives. We go through 3000 hives during 10 days' periods.

Okay! You work 10 hours but efecctive time is 5 hours beside hives.
You have 3 men.   
150 hives every day per man.
30 hives per hour!
2 minutes per hive all summer along.  And if you get  a good yield, make it faster!  That is competition.

I spend 30-60 minutes per hive.

700 hives is a measure what beekeeper can nurse in USA.  Those hives produces 70 000 - 100 000 pounds honey. You have to sell them and find customers.  You will sell every day 400 pound honey and you will live with it, perhaps, if you are healthy.

Then you practice pollination services, sell nucs and queens and what ever you get in your mind. - And of course, you make questions on this forum.

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mick
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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2007, 01:58:19 AM »

Thats it in a nutshell, very well put Finsky!
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2007, 06:13:18 AM »

There are beekeepers and there are people in the honey business.  People in the honey business are called packers.  People in the beekeeping business are called poor.  Smiley

Here's what Jay Smith said:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesbetterqueens.htm#The%20Question%20of%20Mating%20Hives
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Michael Bush
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pdmattox
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« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2007, 08:11:44 PM »

Very good description Finsky.
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Apis629
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« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2007, 09:42:13 PM »

If you're looking for the most profit versus cost, try sidelining; using beekeeping to support your income with, say, 50 hives but, basing most of your income off your current occupation.  This would give you a better perspective of if you'd like to persue it full time or, if you'd like it part time, or even as a hobby.  Take into account that, if you do try full time, you must take into account the cost of employees' wages, feed, treatments, woodenware, protective clothing, and don't get me started on the extractors and truck.  In the words of most commercial beekeepers I know, "Hobby beekeeping is for fun, commercial is work.".  With how honey prices are and, how difficult it is to keep bees currently, I wouldn't take the chance of moving into such a volitile occupation but, if it's what you want to do, it's what you want to do.
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michelleb
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« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2007, 06:15:25 PM »

"Plus, please share all your knowledge on how to start."

You can surf every board and read every book and ask every beekeeper, and probably still have a long way to go!  Wink

I'm in the process of growing my bee operation. The best and most frequent advice I've heard is to start slow, and to take a long hard look at what you consider financial viability. Do you have tons of debt, kids to send to college, a penchant for luxury spending? Seriously, think about it. The more $$ you need, the more bees you need, and the more money you'll spend to make more money.

We're working toward the goal of about 500 colonies (by perhaps 2011 if we really push, and if our bees stay healthy), hiring only part-time help during the flows, with two full-time adults doing the rest of the work--from actual bee work to the books and any honey sales (retail). This year, we hope to go into winter with a couple dozen colonies. We don't want our operation to grow faster than we can learn. I hope to go full time--still doing a few contract gigs in my current career here and there--by 2009, with the beau joining in full time in 2011.

If you want to go 100% full-bore sooner, you could work for other beekeepers for experience for a couple seasons, perhaps with the arrangement of buying them out and hiring them as "consultants" or "foremen". I know that a few people have had success using this approach. The average age of US commercial beekeepers, I believe, is 60, and many of those folks have kids who are the first generation to leave the family business. In today's agricultural climate, you can't blame them.

Mind you, this is from the mouth of one babe to another--I'm in the research phase myself.





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« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2007, 06:54:38 PM »

i spent around 300 dollars just getting my first hive.  granted, some of that was one time expense, but i just bought stuff for my next two hives and spent about 150.

start early looking for used stuff.  i have found used frames, (that were unused) bulk foundation, and extractor for less than half price, and some other misc. stuff. 
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« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2007, 07:12:40 PM »

as in any business some kind of business plan would be good. you need to know how much capital is required to produce the quantity of honey that will generate the amount of money you are looking for from your business.
but i think that for a person with little or no experience in this field the best thing to do is to go work for someone who is successful at this enterprise and learn how its done.
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kathyp
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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2007, 07:22:12 PM »

Quote
best thing to do is to go work for someone who is successful at this enterprise and learn how its done.

that is super advice.  if i were going to do this as anything other than a hobby, i'd beg someone to let me work for free, just so i could learn!
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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.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
Finsky
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« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2007, 01:02:21 AM »

as in any business some kind of business plan would be good.

It is impossible to do if you don't know what is

1) beekeeping
2) selling honey and other products
3) How good pastures you are going to get and where, where are your customers, how do you deliver your products.

When you make your business plan it will only lead wrong.

And one point: If you are afraif of stings like most people are, all goes wrong.

And beekeepers are the most stubborn persons, which I have met and if you are a real beekeeper, you start it even if all try to tell that don't do that mistake. Take care that wife has good safe job. grin

.
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BEE C
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« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2007, 04:15:53 AM »

Quote
Take care that wife has good safe job.

Isn't that the truth...and don't quit your day job! grin
I want to expand my apiary this season ahead.  I got approximately 140 pounds of honey from two package hives that I didn't expect much from other than to get to experience learning about bees.  So far the weight of both hives, I couldn't lift either hive with one hand only so it seems there is enough stores, so far.  I want to try as many splits as I can raise realistically with the price of package bees this year...and how many bees/frames I can use from the overwintered hives...I would love to make a decent living off of beekeeping, but finsky said it best, you really need a diversified hive product pool.  Hand lotions, soaps, candles, propolis, pollen, royal jelly, pollination, honey, etc.  I can't see making a living entirely off of beekeeping without four or five hundred hives in my area.  It would be incredible to work hives for a living, but I wouldn't quit your dayjob.  Then again, perhaps if the work you love is the work you do, then you can accomplish it.  Good luck to you. grin
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Finsky
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« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2007, 05:16:52 AM »


To me it is easy to make honey, but selling it is is sometimes difficult. Just now we have 100% too much honey in our country compared with consumption.

To sell nucs demands that hives have no diseases. One day you notice that some of your 400 nucs have AFB and inpector have just called that he is coming and he has his own dry matchsticks.

But after all it is better to study the job first before you really invest there. And it is good to work some frofessional that you se what kind of job  it.


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Michael Bush
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« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2007, 01:48:15 PM »

Try this for the range.  I'm increasing to 100 hives this year, so let's use that for an example.

My record year I got 300 pounds off of every hive.  With 100 hives that's 30,000 pounds of honey.  In my worst year I fed 40 pounds of sugar to all the hives and got nothing.  That's 0 pounds of honey and a cost of 4,000 pounds of sugar.  That's a lot of variance.
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Michael Bush
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Finsky
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« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2007, 02:12:00 PM »

That's a lot of variance.


That is important thing what Michael says. And when it is good year, mostly others have too, and it is difficult to get new customers at once.
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wff
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« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2007, 12:10:03 AM »

Try this for the range.  I'm increasing to 100 hives this year, so let's use that for an example.

My record year I got 300 pounds off of every hive.  With 100 hives that's 30,000 pounds of honey.  In my worst year I fed 40 pounds of sugar to all the hives and got nothing.  That's 0 pounds of honey and a cost of 4,000 pounds of sugar.  That's a lot of variance.


Sounds like farming!  grin  I've made 3 tons/acre on hay some years and I've lost my whole crop some years.  Same with berries.  Same with mohair.  Same with nursery trees.  Same with eggs.  The real trick is to make sure they don't all fail in the same year.  If you can't deal with that kind of uncertainty, agriculture isn't the game to be in.
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Finsky
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« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2007, 12:41:44 AM »


Once I got 260 lbs average yield per hive and next year 180. I lowered my price really much because I try to get so new customers. And I did.  Third year I got 70 lbs. I was not able to arrange honey even to my old customers. Beekeeping is competed area. It is not easy to emerge into saturated markets.

When I started, it was easy. We had tariff wall. Foreign honey will be not allowed to sell before domestic yield was sold. So beekeeper got best price when he waited that domestic honey was finnisch in shop . So I was able to bye my first apartmen in capital city with honey money. Good old days. Never come back.
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pdmattox
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« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2007, 07:50:47 AM »

When I start to sell honey I want to only sell retail so I will start a route to sell on consignment at other stores like hardware, small grocery stores and the likes.  Start in a small radius and work out from that.  Check with friends, family and former co-wokers with all thier friends.  You can sell other hive products as well.  Check out this web site www.beehivebotanicals.com .   Again with what has already been said it has to be run as a bussiness but it is also farming.  Good luck
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TwT
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« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2007, 09:24:55 AM »

3 years ago when I started, I planted clover and when I extracted my first honey that year I bought 3 cases of the little 4 oz jars and gave away to people for them to try, I sold all my honey (8 cases of pint jars) that year because people knew what my honey tasted like, the second year I has standing orders for my honey and sold out (17 cases of pints and 6 cases of 8 oz. jelly jars), already this year I have 16 cases of pints presold and 3 cases of pints chunked honey, and have heard from about 4 of my normal customers that order 1-2 cases each yet but they will be calling some to place their orders. I also this year will be sailing 3 different kinds of honey (clover, buckwheat, wildflower)..... might have to put off queen rearing until the honey flows slow down..... not    Wink !!!!!! but will not split or shake as many I was planning.... I sale my pints for $6.50, $6.00 a jar if they buy a case, Jelly jars for $4.00  ($3.50 a jar for a case), and chunked honey pints for $8.00 each and people buy them all, they say its worth it compared to the stuff in the stores...... that's my story and im sticking to it Smiley
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THAT's ME TO THE LEFT JUST 5 YEARS FROM NOW!!!!!!!!

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« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2007, 05:15:52 PM »

Finsky,
What is the new avatar.I like reading your posts. 8-)And what do you mean you are hopelessly lost? Wink
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SteveSC
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« Reply #20 on: January 30, 2007, 06:24:06 PM »

When I first started the keeping bees ( way back 18 mons. ago...! ) I wanted to start a business - still do.  An ole' time beekeeper  ( has since passed on ) told me about starting a honey business.  He said, "  Steve, I'll tell you how to make a little money in the honeybees business - you have to start with alot of money " . 

Well, I haven't decided if he was right about it but he was right about half of it - it takes alot of money to find out..  I think I'll try the pollen collecting this yr. - I'll probably collect myself out of alot more money..... grin 

Ain't life just the best thing you've ever done...!
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