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madbee 

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Hi there – have recently come in some capital, and wondering if to buy some more bees, ( at the moment have a dozen or so), have a big enough workshop now. Just want some thinking, on how many hives one would need, what sort of returns/loses one could make and the best way to purchase a large number of bees ??

It may just be the hot weather that it making think like this now and beekeeping is very depended on hot weather !
 

deemann1 

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Try double your number of hives and see how you get on before jumping in
 
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I found this an interesting read also ��

https://www.theapiarist.org/beekeeping-economics/
It's only of use as a thought provoking article ... the assumptions made are so fundamentally flawed and there are so many omissions it's a waste of space as anything approaching a financial model.

The reality is that anyone with four hives would be very lucky to break even as an average of the first few years. Even if you accept that the 'profit' suggested in the article is achievable (which is doubtful) if you then further extrapolate and say that (for arguments sake) you spend 4 hours a week during the season from March to October on managing and maintaing your four colonies .. that is at least 120 hours of work for a return of £550 ...Just over £4.50 an hour - and I think, even that, is optimistic.

The reality of keeping bees is that, once you have established a few colonies (probably 20 - 30), have absorbed the cost of the equipment needed, have the time to spend looking after them and are not costing in the time that you spend beekeeping then it can produce an icremental income. Once you get above that number the cost/profit curve steepens as you need to consider the costs and logistics of maintaining a larger number of colonies and whether the increase is worth the effort.

I know a few beekeepers in the bracket 20 - 50 hives and I know how much work is required .. and we've discussed the costs and profitability. As a second income and an enjoyable hobby ... it's great. As a full time business .. it's a minefield and potential money pit.

If you have several thousand pounds to invest in a beekeeping enterprise you would be better off putting the money into a managed investnment fund (Mine makes on average 10.45% a year) - even with the current massive drop in share prices my fund manager got me an 8.8% return last year - probably more reliable than risking it on keeping bees in any quantity.

https://beekeepingforum.co.uk/showthread.php?t=8543&page=2790 See JBM's post !! - And he has a full time job ...
 
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Finman 

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.
How much you are going to get honey per hive?

Where are your pastures?

Storehouses?
 

jeff33 

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4h a week is optimistic once you had travelling time from 1 apiary to another. Then if you start raising your own queens that's more time again. I currently have 2 apiaries 20 min away from each other and currently on around 18 hives of all sizes.

I work full-time luckily from home for now but when it's going back to normal I don't know how I will manage unless I tap into my annual leave allowance!! I reckon I am around 7h a week atm. Although one of the apiary is 2 minutes walk from home so I go there quite a bit.

Oh and you give bees to friends or your friends' parents buy bees of you and you are expected to support them while they learn, treat their bees because they have no equipment and the list goes on.
 
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4h a week is optimistic once you had travelling time from 1 apiary to another. Then if you start raising your own queens that's more time again......

....Oh and you give bees to friends or your friends' parents buy bees of you and you are expected to support them while they learn, treat their bees because they have no equipment and the list goes on.
Yep ... there's a reality check in your post ... It's very easy to look at the amount of time you spend on your beekeeping through rose tinted lenses. I was looking only at the example in The Apiarist of four hives .. you are quite right .. once you move into ever more distant apiaries the actual time you spend travelling (and having to return with kit you didn't have at an inspection) multiplies the hours you will spend exponentially.

I have six or seven colonies in my garden (most of the time) and a full time job and an allotment and a wife and grandchildren. If I had any more colonies and an out apiary (even with my light touch beekeeping) I doubt that I would cope. As it is I spend more than 4 hours a week on beekeeping tasks ~ and I don't go out of my way to make work.
 

Tim.S 

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I'm lucky that we run our own landscape business from home so I have some flexibility in my use of time but I found the best method was stick to one day a week as bee day, mostly mornings only. Three apiaries plus nuc yard and growing, 30 min trip to the furthest and work my way back home. The time taken however is not just looking at the bees, prepping kit for example, have I got enough frames etc, find everything and load the van. No good being on site 30 mins away and discovering you have forgotten your suit/smoker/tool etc but it does happen.

This all comes down to business management, and I am sorry but working in an office managing other people is definitely not the same thing as running your own business! On top of that the bee knowledge you had that you thought was great turns out not to be! Its a whole different world.

It might sound like we are all being rather negative on here but there is a lot of collective wisdom round these parts, most of it gained the hard way.
 

Newbeeneil 

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It's only of use as a thought provoking article ... the assumptions made are so fundamentally flawed and there are so many omissions it's a waste of space as anything approaching a financial model.

The reality is that anyone with four hives would be very lucky to break even as an average of the first few years. Even if you accept that the 'profit' suggested in the article is achievable (which is doubtful) if you then further extrapolate and say that (for arguments sake) you spend 4 hours a week during the season from March to October on managing and maintaing your four colonies .. that is at least 120 hours of work for a return of £550 ...Just over £4.50 an hour - and I think, even that, is optimistic.

The reality of keeping bees is that, once you have established a few colonies (probably 20 - 30), have absorbed the cost of the equipment needed, have the time to spend looking after them and are not costing in the time that you spend beekeeping then it can produce an icremental income. Once you get above that number the cost/profit curve steepens as you need to consider the costs and logistics of maintaining a larger number of colonies and whether the increase is worth the effort.

I know a few beekeepers in the bracket 20 - 50 hives and I know how much work is required .. and we've discussed the costs and profitability. As a second income and an enjoyable hobby ... it's great. As a full time business .. it's a minefield and potential money pit.

If you have several thousand pounds to invest in a beekeeping enterprise you would be better off putting the money into a managed investnment fund (Mine makes on average 10.45% a year) - even with the current massive drop in share prices my fund manager got me an 8.8% return last year - probably more reliable than risking it on keeping bees in any quantity.

https://beekeepingforum.co.uk/showthread.php?t=8543&page=2790 See JBM's post !! - And he has a full time job ...
Philip, I did appreciate it was not really relevant to the OP's question but I did find the reasoning interesting and I find David's blog make me chuckle with his little asides. 😊
I have acquired too many hives over the last couple of years and seem to have acquired "bee fever"! I like collecting and playing with bees plus selling a few jars and bees but it will never be make much more than pin money out of it.
In fact I make approximately 3 times more out of looking after other peoples hives than mine!
And I certainly agree with the investment much easier having someone else earning money for me than having to work!
 
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Philip, I did appreciate it was not really relevant to the OP's question but I did find the reasoning interesting and I find David's blog make me chuckle with his little asides. 😊
I have acquired too many hives over the last couple of years and seem to have acquired "bee fever"! I like collecting and playing with bees plus selling a few jars and bees but it will never be make much more than pin money out of it.
In fact I make approximately 3 times more out of looking after other peoples hives than mine!
And I certainly agree with the investment much easier having someone else earning money for me than having to work!
I wasn't being critical - I found the article an interesting (if apparently flawed) read ... the danger, of course, is that such articles could encourage people to dive headlong into keeping bees with the thinking ..4 hives yield £550 therefore 40 hives yields £5500 and so on. As has been seen on here lately, there are people, with absolutely no beekeeping experience, whose sole aim appears to start a 'Beefarm' on exactly that premise.

Beekeeping is a great hobby ... and can be a small incremental income - in a good year it can be quite lucrative ... but for every exceptional year there are two that are moderate, three that are mediocre and one that's a disaster !
 
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I wasn't being critical - I found the article an interesting (if apparently flawed) read ... the danger, of course, is that such articles could encourage people to dive headlong into keeping bees with the thinking ..4 hives yield £550 therefore 40 hives yields £5500 and so on. As has been seen on here lately, there are people, with absolutely no beekeeping experience, whose sole aim appears to start a 'Beefarm' on exactly that premise.

Beekeeping is a great hobby ... and can be a small incremental income - in a good year it can be quite lucrative ... but for every exceptional year there are two that are moderate, three that are mediocre and one that's a disaster !
This Covid -19 The Great Chinese Pox Pandemic has cause a major disaster for many beefarmers' up and down the country who rely on the big County shows to sell their produce.... fortunately honey keeps!

Honey pickled walnuts anyone?

Chons da
 
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This Covid -19 The Great Chinese Pox Pandemic has cause a major disaster for many beefarmers' up and down the country who rely on the big County shows to sell their produce.... fortunately honey keeps!

Honey pickled walnuts anyone?

Chons da
Problem is ... if it's an impulse buy the sale is lost forever .. if it's a regular purchase then its gone elsewhere ... disaster whichever way you look at it. Yes, honey keeps and it can be stored for a future year when the crop is not so good... but - this year's income decimated and there's always costs associated with storage - more so if it is market ready stock.
 

Ian123 

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This Covid -19 The Great Chinese Pox Pandemic has cause a major disaster for many beefarmers' up and down the country who rely on the big County shows to sell their produce.... fortunately honey keeps!

Honey pickled walnuts anyone?

Chons da
Is that actually true I’ve found most of the County shows around me the domain of the county association’s. I had an old bfa chairman come and collect a few queens last week and dropped some around to him on Friday he said bulk demand and prices steady and his small outlets had increased sales. Certainly the farmers markets shutting would cause issues for some and luckily my local one opens today. Definitely did not report impending disaster though. He’s also rather enjoyed getting about with the lack of traffic. Ian
 

ericbeaumont 

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prices steady and his small outlets had increased sales. Certainly the farmers markets shutting would cause issues for some and luckily my local one opens today.
From what I've heard this is the reality. My farmers' market in a church car park opened throughout with reduced stalls and strong crowd management; another three miles away in Islington closed because the street layout prevented two-metre distancing; I believe others set up online deliveries.

Marked increase in box veg deliveries gave an opportunity for honey sales (still could) and online sales rocketed at the local honey company where I work. Weekend online orders of 200 were routine and Mondays were pretty busy for the team; price didn't put buyers off, nor did delivery charges: a 340 sent to me three miles from the office would be £8+£4.60 postage!

My sales doubled during lockdown and I haven't seen it easing, though that could change now the old normal seems to be creeping in. Yesterday in Church Street I bumped into an old friend and we both hugged each other generously. It was so automatic and of course, afterwards we realised what we'd done; the emotion of that small event after three months of no public human contact is with me now.
 

madbee 

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thanks for all your ideas, have been reading them and thinking.
I agree that beekeeping needs good weather, and this sun is making me more positive than if its is wet.

Was hoping for some input has how to sell bulk honey, at present just sell in the village shop and at the end of the drive. (Have little desire to spend every weekend at a farmers market just to sell 5-10 lbs).
How many hives the break even point would be ?
Have plenty of "forage" for bees and out buildings even if they do need "tarting up" for food regs.

many thanks for all your comments.
 

Jimmy 

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thanks for all your ideas, have been reading them and thinking.
I agree that beekeeping needs good weather, and this sun is making me more positive than if its is wet.

Was hoping for some input has how to sell bulk honey, at present just sell in the village shop and at the end of the drive. (Have little desire to spend every weekend at a farmers market just to sell 5-10 lbs).
How many hives the break even point would be ?
Have plenty of "forage" for bees and out buildings even if they do need "tarting up" for food regs.

many thanks for all your comments.
Bulk sales - there is a website that you can subscribe to where honey for sale is listed - google honeyforsale and you should find it. Facebook can also provide a chance to sell in bulk.
Bulk sales are obviously dependent on demand, when you have a good year and have surplus stock chances are so does everyone else, leaving you with unsold stock. The bulk price in the UK for standard honey is strangely holding up well despite two good years in a row (2018+2019) and a decrease in the bulk price in Europe.
Having a variety of income streams is a wise move (bulk sales, direct jar sales, wholesale jar sales etc).
 

Ian123 

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FYI most of the old boys I know sit on a years supply built up over time in expectation of the bad year. Lol none are going to markets to sell 5-10lb
 
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roche 

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thanks for all your ideas, have been reading them and thinking.
I agree that beekeeping needs good weather, and this sun is making me more positive than if its is wet.

Was hoping for some input has how to sell bulk honey, at present just sell in the village shop and at the end of the drive. (Have little desire to spend every weekend at a farmers market just to sell 5-10 lbs).
How many hives the break even point would be ?
Have plenty of "forage" for bees and out buildings even if they do need "tarting up" for food regs.

many thanks for all your comments.
I think the break even point is determined by your business plan, with things like the size of operation, staff, vehicles and premises all coming into play along with the bees and beekeeping equipment. All that is driven by the income you hope to derive.
 

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