Beekeeping can be very profitable if you use modern methods and if you know how to calculate your costs, your return and how to avoid risks. If you’re just starting your business and need a beekeeper suit, we wrote an article on that so check it out here. You will also need many other things besides the suit, but although the initial costs can seem high, the investment is worth it.
How much money can you make?
Taking care of bees is something that can be done by almost anyone, but to perfect this occupation, you need lots of experience. Besides knowledge, you also need plenty of space for your bees to roam around and collect the pollen from the flowers you want them to.
There are multiple ways to start your business, but it’s advisable to begin beekeeping with ten frame hives. As an alternative, you can start with five frame nucs. But these are smaller and won’t produce as much. Packaged bees are also a choice, but they are fewer, and the fewer bees you have, the smaller the profits.
If you choose to start with 10 frame hives, you can expect to produce about 10 gallons of honey, per hive. That is 100 gallons total, in the first year. In addition, you will get some income from beeswax, pollen, and propolis if you can sell them right from your first year.
Some years are better than others, but if you have a good winter, you can make 10 splits, and that means you will double your number of hives for the second year. Following the same rate of production, you will have 200 gallons in the second year, if things go well.
You can sell one quart of honey for $20 if it’s a quality and natural one. Knowing that it means that each gallon of honey will be worth $80. Again, it needs to be organic, unprocessed honey for it to value that much. It should be gathered from wildflowers. That means that you can get $800 from each colony or hive. So for 10 hives, you will get $8,000 per year.
But you need to know that these are the results in favorable conditions. Only good beekeepers can get these numbers constantly, or if they’re lucky they can get even better money. That’s why you need to invest in your knowledge and make sure you’re up to date with everything needed by the bees.
Beekeeping as a job
But you can be a beekeeper without owning the bees. There are big apiaries that need the help of workers and this is where a person with some experience in handling the bees can come in handy. If you have no experience you will usually start on minimum wage. When you already have a season of working under your belt, the salary can rise to $37,000.
Statistics show that beekeepers that have been employed for 4 or 5 years earn between $40,000 and $55,000. If you’re good enough you can be promoted to a managing position and you will have more responsibilities and a salary that’s between $65,000 and $95,000.
It’s worth starting your career as an employed beekeeper and after you gather some experience you can start your own business.
Types of income
Obviously, the main thing that you will be selling is honey. Consumers also see it as the most popular thing produced by bees and that is why it is a highly marketable product because it can have many customers. A decent yield will mean between 3 and 7 gallons of honey per hive, and selling all of that will make good money.
Beeswax is the next thing that you can sell. It can be converted into many different products such as candles, soap or lip balm. And these products are highly demanded too so you can sell huge amounts of beeswax if you can find the people to buy it. It depends on how good the wax is and the color it has.
With the increasing popularity of healthy and natural food, bee pollen has become a superfood and many people eat it to get better immunity and improve their health. Some drugstores, health stores or natural food stores would love to have a partner that can provide them with bee pollen.
There is another substance that bees make and they use it to seal gaps in the hive. It’s called propolis and it doesn’t come in large quantities but it has a lot of health benefits, boosting immunity and also helping in the treatment of sores. Because it’s waxy, propolis is also used in chewing gum, car wax or certain cosmetics. So you can sell it to companies that use it for those purposes.
However, when trying to calculate your profits, don’t forget that there are expenses, too. The first thing to consider is the cost of each hive. Unless you are able to assemble a hive yourself, you will have to pay around $300 for one. So if you have 10 hives, that’s $3,000 already.
Then, you need to choose how to get your bees. Packaged bees can cost you $60 per package, while nucs will be worth $150. It’s better to get the nucs because they provide better bees than the packages. Packages stress the bees a lot and couple that with the transport conditions and you will get a lot of dead and unhealthy bees.
You also need to invest money in a means of extracting the honey, and if you want to buy an entry-level extractor, you will have to pay $300 to $400 for it. But you can also build one yourself for about $50 if you have the skill to do it.
There are other tools that you will need, as well – a fork, feeder, uncapping knife, beekeeper’s hat, suit, smoker, and a hive tool. The cost of all of these, including the extractor, will be about $2,000. So, if your income in your first year is $8,000, you should deduct your expenses from it – $2,000 for the tools and $3,000 for the hives. And, if everything goes well, you will make a profit of $3,000.