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Just how profitable is beekeeping? This is useful to know especially when you are getting into it for profit. Hobbyist beekeepers should also be aware of the benefits that they stand to enjoy in their beekeeping for fun. Beekeeping profits come from the various beehive products and services that you can exchange for monetary gains. With proper management of your beekeeping operation, you can easily realize profits after deducting your startup, maintenance and management costs from the income that you generate in the beekeeping operation. During startup, go for quality equipment that will last many years and save you from recurrent purchase costs.
Beekeeping Startup Costs
The most important items to invest in during startup are protective clothing, beehives and tools. You also need to acquire some type of honey extraction equipment or have a plan on how you will go about honey extraction during harvest time. Langstroth beehives are the best type for both hobbyist and commercial beekeeping.
Go for unassembled Langstroth beehives when making beehive purchases. The 10-frame size is the best for commercial beekeeping. Unassembled beehives are cheaper to buy, and have little risk of getting damaged during shipping.
It is great to go for wax-coated beehives to avoid having to paint the beehives after you assemble them. Using beeswax to coat your beehives is also better because the wax is a natural substance that bees will readily take to, unlike paint.
In your beehive setup, have 2-3 boxes per beehive, enough frames and foundation if you prefer to use some.
Honey extractors work faster in extracting honey that when you use the crush-and-strain method. Manual honey extractors are cheaper than electric extractors. For an easy honey harvesting process, consider having an electric uncapping knife too.
You may catch swarming bees and use them for your beekeeping, or buy bees from various sources. The number of bee swarms that you need during startup varies depending on how many colonies you intend to have. For the first beehive, anticipate an expenditure of about $500. Each additional beehive after that will set you back about $200.
In addition to the mentioned major costs, there are many other minor costs that you will incur during beekeeping. These are not limited to labels, jars, branding, and tools for carrying out various beekeeping activities. If you plan to sell your beekeeping products and services online, you will incur website and software costs among others.
Typical Beekeeping Salary in the United States
A beekeeper is an agricultural worker who raises bees to produce honey and other honeybee products such as wax and propolis and provides pollination services using bees. Such a person could be a professional employed by a large beekeeping company, an individual running an apiary, or even an individual running a few one or two beehives as a hobby.
A professional beekeeper usually works in operations involving upwards of 500 colonies. Experienced beekeepers can specialize in any of the various fields of beekeeping. Apart from working in apiaries, professionals in the beekeeping industry could also be involved in scientific research involving bees or bee activities such as crop pollination. Typically, however, most professionals are rearing bees for honey and their products.
Professional Beekeeper Remuneration
The question of how much a professional in the beekeeping industry would earn per year differs based on experience, area, and other factors. Beginners will get a set minimum wage, progressing upward as they become more experienced. The minimum wage is charged at the entry-level agricultural technician scale. It moves upwards to reach $100,000, which, again, will depend on the profitability generated. As such, the more profits a beekeeper generates, the more they can expect to earn. Again, the earnings depend on whether you are running your own operation or you are an employee in someone else’s. Established apiaries will typically pay more than newer ones.
A look at earning statistics indicates that beekeepers who have worked for four to five years make about $40,000 to $ 50,000 on average in the United States. In California, beekeepers’ earnings average around $59,000, while in Colorado, the average salary per annum is around $56,000. It is not uncommon for very experienced beekeepers to net up to $65,000 when working as managers in large apiaries.
Beekeeper Remuneration in Commercial Operations
The earnings of a beekeeper employed in a large commercial operation in the United States depend on the experience and skills one has. Typically, top-level beekeepers with the knowledge and skills to match earnings begin at $29.64 per hour, adding up to $61,661 per year in most states. Senior-level beekeeper earnings start at $19.29, adding up to per hour, adding up to $40,126 per year. Mid-level beekeeper earnings begin at $13.86 per hour (28,835 per year), while a Junior-level beekeeper’s payments start at $11.37 per hour ($23,645 per year). For a beekeeper at the entry level, earnings start at $10.48 per hour ($21,795 per year). These salaries compare well to what is earned by an agricultural and food science technician in the United States, which is around $40,860 annually.
Additional beekeeping income is generated by beekeepers that produce and market honey and beeswax products. Ranchers set up hundreds of hives, keep bees at hand, pollinate plants and collect beeswax and honey, which fetches up to $20,000 a year. Other beekeepers focus on raising and selling bees for the Queen and her nucleus when the colony thrives. There are also opportunities for part-time and hobby beekeepers to make money by herding their bees at night and on weekends without having a job in the field. In beekeeping, various income streams could add up to much income. Of course, if you are an employee, this money is for your employer.
What Supplies Do I Need to Become a Beekeeper?
Many people have lately taken up beekeeping as a hobby, but more are taking it up as a commercial activity. As confirmed by many beekeepers ‘ associations worldwide, beekeeping has become very popular over the last few years. For all beekeepers, the question is what one needs in terms of supplies and equipment to start their beekeeping operations. This is the question that most aspiring beekeepers are asking.
First, one must decide whether they are doing it as a hobby or a commercial venture. In either case, the question of what to start has the same answer. A short answer is that you will need specific essential tools and equipment, irrespective of the reasons for venturing into beekeeping.
The beekeeper’s essential equipment consists of the beehive(s), the primary equipment. Without a hive, you cannot raise bees. Do not go for a hive unless you meet the legal requirements in your area, such as a permit. You need to find out what permits, if any, are required before starting, as there may be restrictions s on the type of hives allowed in certain localities.
After getting a permit to use your backyard or elsewhere, it is time to purchase your hive or several hives, depending on how large you want your operation to be. The bees will live in the hive, and it is from the hive that you will collect the honey and other products. The beehive comes with frames on which the bees will build their combs and manufacture honey.
A smoker is essential and a must-have. As a beekeeper, a smoker helps control the bees’ movement. A smoker is a tool that you will need to control the bees to allow you to work. A bee smoker is the device beekeepers use to puff smoke into their hives. This smoke doesn’t harm bees, it just interferes with their sense of smell so that they don’t react to alarm pheromones and become aggressive.
3. Queen excluder
The queen excluder is a selective barrier inside the beehive that allows worker bees but not the larger queens and drones to traverse the barrier. This tool will be used to keep the queen separate from the rest of the hive area. Queen excluders are also used with some queen breeding method
4. Bee Suit
Another necessary piece of equipment for beekeepers is a protective suit, sometimes known as a bee suit. A beekeeper is shielded from bee stings by the garment. Try to purchase a safety suit that provides proper ventilation. A beekeeper wouldn’t perspire excessively wearing a well-ventilated outfit because it is cozy and breathable.
Gloves are crucial beekeeping gear. Putting your hands inside a beehive wouldn’t be terrifying as time passes and you gain experience. However, gloves are required to keep your hands from getting stung by bees. Also, invest in a sturdy pair of shoes that extends at least to your ankles.
6. A feeder and sugar
After the blooming season, beekeepers will need supplies like sugar and water. Honeybees will need to be fed in the absence of blossoms. So, mix sugar or sugar syrup with water to feed your bees. You can put a feeder filled with sugar in the hive for the bees to eat.
7. A queen marker
By now, you know how vital a queen is to your hive. You want to keep your queen. When getting beekeeping tools, the queen marker is an essential tool that helps identify the queen. So it will be easy to detect her absence when she’s missing.
To succeed at beekeeping, you’ll need all of this equipment. Keep in mind that all of the equipment and tools mentioned are essential. As you start your bee farm, consider the equipment required to care for and feed the bees. Moreover, the safety items you have are as crucial.
How Much Time Must One Invest To Be a Beekeeper?
Beekeepers are also called honey farmers, apiarists, or, less commonly, apiculturists. The term beekeeper refers to someone who keeps honeybees in beehives, boxes, or other receptacles. The beekeeper does not control the creatures. The beekeeper owns the hives or boxes and associated equipment. The bees can forage or leave (swarm) as they desire. Bees usually return to the beekeeper’s hive as it presents a clean, dark, sheltered home.
The prospect of harvesting honey and other hive products makes beekeeping a popular activity. Local beekeeping groups continue to report record enrollment in starting programs, and hives continue appearing in more and more communities. More and more extensive apiaries are coming up all the time in the United States and other parts of the world. The question is how long it would take an individual to become a successful beekeeper.
Like all forms of agriculture, beekeeping involves knowledge, a willingness to learn from mistakes, and a dedication to best practices. Before learning much about bees, a beekeeper could put bees into a hive and anticipate harvesting honey every summer. Those “good old days” are behind us.
Learning about Beekeeping
Successful beekeepers continue to learn new beekeeping techniques and study bees to support their hives’ ability to maintain healthy, productive hives in the face of biological dangers like parasites and diseases.
As a beekeeper, you can skip training. You must, however, be reasonably knowledgeable about bees. You may get started if you have a strong interest in insects and have some prior knowledge of honeybee behavior by enrolling in a beekeeping course at the extension office of your nearby university. These courses usually last from a few months to a year and are free or extremely cheap)
A year is all it takes to become a beekeeper, especially if you do lots of research. Anyone with the right skills and tools can operate with beehives. Your chances of success increase the more you can learn from the locals. Additionally, you can anticipate devoting up to 30 hours to caring for one hive throughout your first year. You’ll spend less time on maintenance as your hives become more established and you gain familiarity with honeybee behavior.
Benefits of Beekeeping
Some beginners enjoy learning about bees for just a year or two, witnessing a boost to nearby gardens from their pollination and gathering a small amount of honey and wax. This is a rewarding and enjoyable way to spend time outside and get in touch with nature. For others, beekeeping is a lifelong pursuit that goes from an interest to a pastime to a hobby and occasionally even into a thriving big business.
Some associations have “Taster Days,” which are great for learning about bees and what goes into beekeeping. Before spending money on tools and honeybees, enroll in an introductory beekeeping course where you may learn some of the ideas needed to be a successful beekeeper and receive valuable, practical experience. Additionally, your local association will be able to pair you up with a mentor who can support you as you begin to raise bees for yourself.
Where Do I Order Bees?
Most new beekeepers buy their first collection of hives. A hive from a bigger beekeeper can be shipped to you. Typically, a hive costs $150 – $200, but since bees multiply, it is a one-time purchase. Since they will be accustomed to human contact and be disease-free upon arrival, this is typically regarded as the ideal method of acquiring bees.
At the same time, a nucleus hive or package bees can be ordered. Live bees in packages are what you introduce to a brand-new hive. A nucleus is a half-colony that has some of the honeycombs necessary to kick-start growth. Both options are acceptable, but package bees are typically considered safer.
Local Sources of Honeybee Colonies
Bees on combs are available from nearby beekeepers or your community group. Start with a tiny colony on three to five frames. The cost will vary based on the location, the source, and the season, but as usual, consult your local beekeeping association for guidance. Swarms are often free, but your local beekeeping organization will need to provide you with assistance. However, the bees may be sick or aggressive if the source is unknown. In both situations, consulting a knowledgeable beekeeper is essential.
You can collect a wild swarm if you find one, and it’s legal. This is often more art than science. Once you find a hive, you can use a smoker to calm the bees and guide them directly off the honeycombs into a container. If the bees are on the ground, you can use a sheet of cardboard to scoop them up. Regardless, you’ll need to scoop up nearly the entire swarm and transfer them to your hive.
If you go this route, you must wear a beekeeper’s outfit and utilize a smoker to prevent the swarm from attacking. Taking a colony away from its hive will upset the bees, and you may be stung if you don’t wear any protective gear or use a smoker to cool the bees down. This is illegal in some jurisdictions. Check with your state and city before peeling a bee hive off a tree trunk. Many wild bees carry diseases which is why beekeepers typically buy their hives. You may have a disaster if you collect multiple hives and one carries a disease.
Purchasing Package Bees
Now you know how to get bees. Should you decide to order, most US suppliers are found in the Southern states. Large-scale honeybee raising is concentrated in states like Florida and Georgia. For colony growth, their short, mild winters are ideal. When the northern winter lasts, honeybee colonies in the South will be large and prolific colonies. Because of this, Georgia is home to the majority of “bee package” producers. Colonies that you may buy nearby might be useful. Early in the season, though, cooler places won’t have a lot of production ready. To produce a harvest of honey, you must take advantage of the “nectar flow.
You can ask local beekeepers and get in touch with the closest beekeeping group to identify the bee sources closest to you. Be wary of re-sellers that drive to Georgia, buy packages, and then sell bees in Wisconsin as locals. This is happening all over, meaning that you should take care to establish the source area for the bees you’re buying.
Managing Your Finances
Managing your beekeeping business finances is critical to keeping your operation running smoothly and making informed decisions. Neglecting your beekeeping operations means you can miss out on worthwhile tax benefits, struggle to acquire a loan or make business decisions that lead to more issues.
Modern commercial beekeeping can only get along with sound financial management of the entire enterprise. This is often the last thing on a beekeeper’s mind. That’s understandable; the allure of producing a product through managing a complex insect society is far more exciting than the mundane activity of manipulating numbers on paper.
Keeping Financial Records in Beekeeping
The first step in managing finances in a beekeeping operation is to develop proper records for all the transactions involving your beekeeping operations. Financial records, including preparing the financial journals such as the ledgers, sales journals, purchase journals, etc., will be vital in preparing your financial statements later on to establish your financial position as far as your beekeeping operation is concerned. Like in any other business, you will need all the journal books to be filled correctly.
Using a double-entry system is recommended. For reasonably large operations, the services of a professional bookkeeper should be sought to ensure that the accounts are credible. In smaller operations, the beekeeper needs to maintain the proper records and can have a person knowledgeable in accounts to prepare the final statements. Currently, many accounting software packages can assist in keeping these records and preparing financial statements quickly. Additionally, BeeKeepPal, an apiary management software, can help you to manage your beekeeping finances. Click here to sign up.
From here, it naturally follows that you must prepare the necessary financial statements. You need to design three financial statements to show how your beekeeping operation is doing financially. These are the balance sheet, the income statement, and the cash flow statements that will be analyzed to find important metrics. For hobbyists in beekeeping, this may be optional as they are not after making a profit.
The balance sheet
This lists assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity as far as the operation is concerned. The balance sheet indicates the value of the assets owned by the beekeeper against the debts it owes others. If the debts exceed the assets, the operation is teetering on financial collapse as it cannot pay its suppliers’ obligations, taxes, etc.
This lists income and expenses involving the beekeeping operation. The most important feature of the income statement is that it shows your profits and or losses, whichever is the case for that particular financial period. It also shows how you have spent your money.
Cash flow statement
This is nothing more than a listing of cash inflows and outflows sources. If more cash comes in than goes out, the cash flow is said to be positive, and a profit is made. If there’s more outgo than income, cash flow is negative, and a loss is realized. Most people will prepare the cash flow at the end of a financial period, primarily a year, but it is recommended that it be prepared monthly to fine-tune an operation.
Some large beekeeping operations do this weekly. Remember, this tracks the cash flow; only cash transactions should be recorded. Even if your beekeeping operation has a lot of assets, most of these assets cannot be easily converted to cash. Cash is what fuels the beekeeping operation on a day-to-day basis. If cash is short, the business can borrow short-term to aid when income is short. Setting the cash flow statement down on paper is of utmost importance; it cannot be done in any other way.
These three statements will then be analyzed to find important metrics. The beekeeping industry needs a set of standard financial analysis metrics. Any beekeeping operation, just like any other business, needs to analyze its accounts to establish how well it is doing in terms of profitability, return on assets, etc.
Managing Finances in Beekeeping Operations
To increase the net worth of your beekeeping operation, you can manage your finances in several ways and make actual savings. There are several significant ways to do this: reducing costs, increasing income, restructuring debt and insuring your beehives.
Reducing costs would include carefully purchasing or spending on the necessary things you need. Any unnecessary expenses should be avoided. For instance, buy good equipment at the best possible prices taking advantage of any discounts offered. For example, buying in bulk will reduce.
A beekeeper should consider increasing their income by increasing the number of products on sale, such as sales of royal jelly, propolis, wax, etc. will earn more revenue for the beekeeper.
Restructuring debt means that the beekeeper rearranges their debt payment schedule to synchronize it with the availability of funds. This, of course, will need to be agreed upon by the beekeeper and their debtors.
The reasons for venturing into beekeeping vary from one person to another. For example, conversation beekeepers do not go into it for profit. All beekeepers, however, need to know how their beekeeping operations are faring. Whether you are doing your research before going into beekeeping or looking for how to improve your operations, feel free to use the information in this article to analyze how profitable is beekeeping.