Beekeeping is a wonderful activity that many people start as a hobby, but due to the large usage of bee products, you can also turn this project into your business. Having the right beekeeping equipment and tools can actually help you earn some money. Let’s see how!
As it is with pretty much every business, you will need to make an investment into the necessary equipment, tools, bees, consumables, and so on. That is unless you get a huge inheritance and you do not have to spend any of your money. Assuming that is not the case, you need to consider the initial and ongoing costs as well.
In case you are already into beekeeping as a hobby, the startup investment is no longer part of this equation. However, you will have some expansion costs to consider. Your hobby cannot make money unless you extend beyond your passion. Startup or/and expansion costs begin with the actual expenses of setting up new hives.
Fortunately, hives are not that expensive when compared to the raw materials you might need for other types of business investments. A reasonable estimate for installing a single hive in the US, equipped with frames, group boxes, tools, protective gear, and food is around $600. If you add a second hive it will get you to around $900.
Of course, this is an estimate, as you can go for cheaper options and for more expensive ones. By looking at these numbers and comparing them to the investments needed to start other types of businesses, beekeeping is actually quite inexpensive.
Besides the components that are meant to bring you money, you also have to think about the money you invest in back-office processes. To give an example, are going to handle accounting with pen and paper, or are going to invest in a specialized software?
Marketing and advertising is also part of a business. Are you going to spread flyers all over town, or are you going to set up a website? Or both? Even though you can make serious money out of the beekeeping activity, you need to consider that it might take at least a year or even two before you manage to break even. This is not a business that will make you rich overnight. If you are alright with that, let us see how beekeeping can bring you money.
When you hear about beekeeping for the first time, honey is usually the first thing that will come to your mind. Production expenses are rather low, and they are generally limited to labor and packaging. In this health-consciousness era, raw honey is particularly popular. In the absence of heat, honey can maintain the enzymes which provide you with so many health benefits.
Unfortunately, most commercial honey is pasteurized in order to make it easier to package and to maintain its liquid state for a longer period. Exposing it to temperatures over 104 degrees alters the enzymes which offer honey its individual nutritional value. It is also important to know that honey flavors differ depending on the nectar source.
Premium honey can be in your possession, simply because blooms in your region are distinct from those found anywhere else. In case you have an orchard or if you specialize in berry production like blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries, the honey from your apiary will have a totally different taste than that of a keeper who relies only on wildflowers.
Bees will keep gathering nectar for as long as the source is accessible, so you must not feel too bad about raiding their pantries. A knowledgeable beekeeper knows exactly when to harvest and how much to get and also leave enough for the bees to keep them thriving.
Depending on the method you prefer, you can harvest honey either by using an extractor, or by cutting the comb, crushing it, sieving it, and then enjoying the honey. In case you opted for a flow hive, the process is much simpler because you have honey on tap at your disposal.
Once you pack it, you are ready to sell. Since the demand for honey is so high, you are not likely to have it in stock for long. If you become a known trustworthy seller, not even that will last!
Polen is the primary source of protein for the bees and it also acts as a great dietary supplement for people. Its market value is higher than that of honey because pollen duty is not designated to all foragers. Also, it is only available in small quantities. If you want to responsibly collect pollen, you should only set up pollen traps for about two hours a day, and only for a few days a week.
The reason for this is the necessity of bees that need it to raise brood. In case you take too much pollen, you are risking the health of a brood. This is the only bee product that is collected outside the hive, and all you need are the pollen traps.
It is quite a simple process, as the entrance of the hive is slightly restrained, making the bees shed some of their load of pollen in order to gain entry to the hive. This powder is collected in a small cup below the entrance.
After a couple of hours, all you have to do is remove the screen and allow the bees to continue storing their own supplies. Since fresh pollen is rather perishable, it is better preserved dry. For that, once you have collected it, you can sell it fresh and well-packed or you can dry it and then sell it.
Bees really know how to keep a house clean, and their renovation skills are outstanding. They disinfect the hive and seal all the cracks using propolis. This is a sticky substance which is derived from secretions of various plants and trees.
Since it is a hive disinfectant, propolis is also ideal for medicinal use. In order to collect it, all you need is propolis traps. The quantities are small. However, with a strong hive, you will manage to obtain a good rate of production. Furthermore, it is not perishable like pollen which makes it easier to deal with. Also, it is much more valuable than pollen.
This product goes hand in hand with honey and only makes financial sense in bulk. If you are using an extractor to harvest the honey, the comb gets recycled and you remain with small quantities of wax. In case we are talking about hundreds of hives or even thousands, you can harvest the honey and cut out the comb for rendering.
Since wax is very light, you will need big amounts in order to make it profitable. Moreover, you do not have to sell the wax in its simple form as the cosmetic industry has a great demand for beeswax to make various hair products and balms.
And let us not forget about aromatherapy! What would a bridal shower be with no spa pack with scented candles? There are so many things for which wax is used so you can definitely increase the value of your final product.
Bee venom has recently started to be used as a form of apitherapy. It was discovered that the venom of these insects has the potential to treat arthritis and other similar conditions, including phantom pains in amputees.
Since there the study advances every day, there is definitely potential in this area. At the moment, the treatment is administered by having bees sting the specific area of the body. On the other hand, this makes the bee similar to a pill: once it is used, it dies. However, since harvesting techniques are being developed, who knows what other possibilities await beekeepers.
Other ways to make money from beekeeping
Did you know that many agricultural producers pay to have hives temporarily relocated to their fields? They do this for pollination services and they pay for this! Also, new bee operations require a stock for starting their hives, while older beekeepers might need replacement bees because of swarming or disease.
There are those who establish a profitable trade for their own honey making or pollination businesses by providing bees and customer-made hives and kits to others in the industry.