No honey, no money? Not necessarily! Find out how much a beehive is worth and how you can prepare for the costs of becoming a beekeeper.
The potential profit per hive in the US, if you have healthy bees and live somewhere with plenty of nectar sources, is $600 per year. If you plan on selling established beehives, you can price each one anywhere between $250 and $350 depending on the size of the hive and the bees.
However, this number depends on plenty of variables and it’s important to discuss each one carefully. If you are based in the United States and considering a career in apiculture, then there are several steps you need to take before you can really start setting up.
A typical beehive produces anywhere between 10 and 200 pounds of honey in a year. The large range is attributed to how sensitive the colony is to changes in its local environment, as well as the health and safety of the bees.
Because you’d be selling natural honey and not the usual mass-produced honey products, which may contain sweeteners or other additives, you can sell your honey up to $10 per pound.
While honey is the most known method of profiting from beehives, you can also harvest other bee products and offer beekeeping services once you are more familiar with apiculture. Hives can also produce beeswax, royal jelly, pollen, and propolis. Extracting these products may require additional equipment, especially for pollen and propolis.
Once you are more adept at beekeeping, you can consider offering pollination services or even sell your bees. Here’s a quick glimpse at alternative products and services you can derive from learning how to maintain beehives:
|Average Yield per Year (Unless Specified Otherwise)
|$5 to $10 per pound
|1 to 2 pounds per 100 pounds of honey harvested
|$10 per pound
|$3 to $5 per ounce
|$6 to $8 per ounce
|5 to 7 ounces
|$6 to $8 per ounce
Ultimately, beekeeping is a hot and sticky profession. Honeybees work best in warmer climates. As a result, apiaries located in colder regions may have to work twice as hard to ensure their honeybees are in top working condition.
In fact, beekeepers in colder regions go through additional preparation for the colder season. They need to make sure that their colonies are fed and armed with enough food storage to last the winter. Once winter finally comes around, they then close off most of the hive entrances so that cold drafts and mice do not disturb the colony.
There is so much to the world of apiculture and if you try to absorb everything in one go, you might get overwhelmed. It’s best to approach beekeeping as a fun side hobby with a local community of beekeepers, or enter the industry under the guidance of an expert beekeeper. This way, you can get the support you need when anything unexpected occurs: a sudden disease in the colony, an attack from wild honeybees or predators, or inclement weather.
Most commercial beekeepers earn from selling honey. However, only a few can make a full time living this way because it is difficult to compete with the low prices of imported honey. That’s why some beekeepers supplement their income by moving colonies from state to state and offering pollination services as they go along.
If you are an apiculture hobbyist who is just starting out, be prepared for the reality that you may not have enough honey to harvest in the first year. A new bee colony needs time to establish and produce excess honey. The amount they produce varies depending on weather, nectar flow, and health of the colony—all considerations that you will learn to make best through experience.
One exciting aspect about beekeeping is that its benefits do not exist in a vacuum. Beekeeping can increase vegetable garden yields and help you earn a little extra money. There are plenty of ways you can earn from a hive. All you need is an open mind and a diversified approach to beekeeping.
There are several aspects to beekeeping that can only be learned from experience—so aside from going out there and allowing yourself to make mistakes, it is also strongly recommended that you join local and online apiculture clubs. This way, you can get personal advice and a sense of community from like-minded individuals.
Once you've gotten the hang of beekeeping, you may find yourself with far too many bees in your backyard. As colonies grow, they may start swarming. This is when a new colony forms from an existing one. You can either make a new home for it after it splits in your backyard, or prepare them for sale.
You can set up your bees and sell them in packages, as nucs, or in established hives. While packages and nucs have their own pros and cons that make them lucrative, established hives may not fetch the same price. This article on buying bees by Angi Schneider, an experienced apiarist explains how beekeepers would have to wrestle with a more defensive colony and an increased number of bees means that it would be more difficult to do
Each hive takes up roughly 2.5 square feet and needs a clearance of 5 feet all around. With this in mind, most beekeepers usually only have between one and four hives. This is a manageable amount for hobbyists and generates a good amount of bee products.
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