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Frithgar 

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Just a quick one, does anyone here sell bulk honey to a wholesaler?
If so what price do you get for it?

I ask because I'm looking to expanding my beekeeping this coming year as much as I can afford, then I will be looking at loans/prices and business plans etc in order to start doing it full time in 2-3 years.:sifone: I've found 100's of prices for direct sales for jars, cut comb, comb sections, novelty presentation packs of differant types of honey etc, but drawing a blank on wholesale prices.
It's kind of important that I get this right as I need to build business plans around these prices so some names of bulk buyers would be appreciated.
 

admin 

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Hi Frithgar,how long have you been keeping bees ?
I only ask because it is easy to get carried away in the first few years.

My advice would be to build up your stock by doubling up every year,yes its slower but the experience gained is worth it.

Go at the right speed,sell honey/nuc's every year and you will not need a loan.

The faster you go the more money you will lose.

We have a few Beefarmers on the forum who can advise with any questions you may have.
 

Black Comb 

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I agree with Admin.

For my sins I give advice (free) to some business start ups and I never advocate borrowing money until you are certain you know the market inside out upside down and sideways as well (which you obviously don't).

Also, with honey there are the small matters of producing it and also the weather.

With only 2 colonies you have some way to go.

Sorry if this sounds a bit harsh but honest advice is the best advice.
 

crazy_bull 

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Hi Frithgar,how long have you been keeping bees ?
I only ask because it is easy to get carried away in the first few years.

My advice would be to build up your stock by doubling up every year,yes its slower but the experience gained is worth it.

Go at the right speed,sell honey/nuc's every year and you will not need a loan.

The faster you go the more money you will lose.

We have a few Beefarmers on the forum who can advise with any questions you may have.
Completely agree with the above, doubling each year is roughly what i have done and now have in excess of 60 productive colonies. I have never taken a loan out and started with a gifted colony and spare equipment, it is simple organic growth. I have yet to sell any vast amounts of honey wholesale, this is because as i have grown I have been able to build my customer base that has just about kept up with production.
 

mbc 

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The two most important things a beefarmer needs are a spouse in regular employment and vast cash reserves for the frequent rubbish seasons
 

Midland Beek 

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How many proper bee farmers are there in the UK? I think you could count them on two hands.

You maybe need 300+ colonies to get close to making a living.

Most people who call themselves 'bee farmers' are typically retired from some or other well paid profession and with lots of money in the bank, and who can go into the hobby of beekeeping in a bigger way.
 

Chris Luck 

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£2.15/lb to about £2.30/lb
Is that right?

Does that have to be a particular type of honey?

How much does honey retail for in the UK?

I know, lot's of questions.

Chris
 

Frithgar 

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I'd normally agree with you about the waiting and doing it slowly, I've had an interest in beekeeping for 15 years and have restarted keeping bees after a long break (8-10 years). However I may not have a job in 3 years time so I'm looking at other options, I have no qualifications and the job I have pays very well. I will really struggle to match my wages anywhere else and will lose my house if I don't match it.

Not a good basis for starting a business but I have a strong passion for beekeeping and I've got 2-3 years before I'd have to start this. Just exploring all the options in case I've got to act on it, I'll know for sure in about 12 months (talks at work).

Thakyou for the answers :)
 

Chris B 

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£2.15/lb to about £2.30/lb
This is the price you can currently expect from Rowse if you supply them with 300kg barrels. I heard they were actually paying £2.40 early this year. But this barrel price is volatile.
The Honey Association website has contact details of those likely to want bulk honey.

Wholesale price in jars varies greatly. It would need to be at least £3.50 to make it more attractive than barrels. However, most honey sold this way is now in 340g jars so therefore slightly less money per unit.

My advice would be to set yourself some realistic targets. Learn to manage say 50 colonies in just one day a week, including all kit maintenance, extracting, selling etc.
 

OXFORDBEE 

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You are going to need lots of capital, contacts and experience to get a viable business going. Very few suceed at making a good living from beekeeping in the UK. A single bad season can also trash your business, especially in the early years. Beekeeping in the UK is seen as a somewhat marginal occupation depending on how you go about it.

Get hold of the Beekeeping In Great Britain by ROB Manley(1948). He wrote a good section on starting up a business but it is probably quite dated now. However, he does go into the practicality of starting up a bee business.

As a footnote, I know someone who has read Manley's private correspondence. In it Manley apparently wrote that he would have probably gone bankrupt if the second world war had not started. So, even for someone who has lots of experience, making the jump from a sideline to a wholy commerical operation can be risky.

I would suggest you seek out alternative forms of income that would permit you to run some bees as a sideline business untill you get the necessary experience to run many colonies. It takes time to make contacts and get to know the right people in UK Beekeeping. You have to start now if you think you might not have a job in 3 years time.

Starting now means investing every spare penny you have and getting as much commercial experience as you can...
 

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Starting now means investing every spare penny you have and getting as much commercial experience as you can...
:iagree:
I would spend some time with a Beefarmer to see the difference in the way things are done.
 

Brosville 

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If you have a hobby about which you are passionate, commercialising it can be a very good way to end up loathing it............ What you now find "fun" can be sheer drudgery on a large scale, and can often entail doing things you may hate to make the business pay - sometimes it can be better to keep your hobby as just that, a pastime that you love........... :coolgleamA:
 
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OXFORDBEE 

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If you have a hobby about which you are passionate, commercialising it can be a very good way to end up loathing it............ What you now find "fun" can be sheer drudgery on a large scale, and can often entail doing things you may hate to make the business pay - sometimes it can be better to keep your hobby as just that, a pastime that you love........... :coolgleamA:
Well said, so very very true! Those vital 3 months in summer can be such a grind when there's lots to do and you are behind.

You've got to be prepared to work 18 hours a day in summer. Open hives in all weathers and if necessary work in the rain.

If you are unable to get out of bed and manage your bees in summer because you are sick it will cost you ££££'s.
 

Frithgar 

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Before the job I have now I was a farmhand so working long hours in every weather is nothing new and I'm realistic about the hours I'll have to do with it. The first few years are the same as any business venture, it's a risk and there are many variables that can affect the viability of said business. I'm not going to rush into anything blinkered and blind to all but the fact I've enjoyed looking after a couple hives. There are a couple of commercial farmers withing a reasonable distance of me so I will be contacting them at some point and asking if I can have a look at the operation. They aren't so close that I will eb competition for them!

Planning this from now gives me a chance to start building up the numbers of hives that I have, I'm now advertising for swarm collection by word of mouth but not heard of any this year (slow year for swarms round here for some reason). Nothing is set in stone and I aimed from the start to build my number of hives up to around 30-40 as a hobby, I may yet be able to get a job that will be enough when supplemented with 50-70 hives.

I've previously set up a business for myself doing something that I originally had as a hobby and it was succesful for a couple of years, I finished it when I had to move house and it wasn't realistic to move the business as well. I'm aware of how turning a hobby into a job can make you dislike it, it's something I will be taking into account before making the final plunge. As I've said previously, that won't be for a few years so I've got time to get the number of hives up to a good figure before I need to go for it. Still only 2 at the moment, however one of the hives is now strong enough to split so I've got 3 queens coming in the start of august that will replace the two I've got now, making three hives that should be strong enough for the winter.
 

Firegazer 

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Frithgar,
you might be better off looking at queen rearing and nuc selling, or certainly add that to honey production.

With honey, you're going to compete with everyone, including lots of EU (and beyond) producers that may have lower cost bases and larger scale operations than you.

With queen breeding, you could join the 'Cornish Bee Improvement' programme and try and breed a line of varroa-tolerant bees than require less/no treatment to keep them going. You could sell these, in the form of queens for bee farmers or nucs for hobby beekeepers. In this area, you'd be raising queens that were more likely to be adapted to British conditions (and still be varroa tolerant), rather than imports from around the world. You wouldn't be competing with imports, just other British queen breeders.

It wouldn't have the turnover of all that honey production, but could be lower cost too and a more achievable business plan. You could get some time to do other (money earning) things in parallel, which you probably wouldn't have if you go for high volume production of honey.

Just my thoughts. They are entirely free and may be worth what you paid for them :)

FG
 

Poly Hive 

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To make a real living off bees you are looking at 500 colonies +.

Take forty lb as the average. £2-15 bulk price... £86 x 500= £43k x 300 = £25,800

From those seemingly handsome figures comes off expenses... sugar, fuel, vehicle, more supers, floors etc... frames... foundation.... WOOO it gets eaten up very fast and you have NOT yet put a spoon of food in your family's mouths.... Hmm....

As stated already there are a fair few members of the BFA but of them less than 20 I would hazard are real Beefarmers as in their main income source.

Be very wary of being carried away.

PH
 

Poly Hive 

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To make a real living off bees you are looking at 500 colonies +.

Take forty lb as the average. £2-15 bulk price... £86 x 500= £43k x 300 = £25,800

From those seemingly handsome figures comes off expenses... sugar, fuel, vehicle, more supers, floors etc... frames... foundation.... WOOO it gets eaten up very fast and you have NOT yet put a spoon of food in your family's mouths.... Hmm....

As stated already there are a fair few members of the BFA but of them less than 20 I would hazard are real Beefarmers as in their main income source.

There is a hell of a difference in the management of a hoby hive and a commercial one and it it is pouring and has been for days you stilll HAVE to inspect and get hammered doing it. It's not fun at times.... been there..

Be very wary of being carried away.

PH
 

Black Comb 

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PH

why do you multiply the £43k by 300 and how do you get it to £25.8k?
 

Firegazer 

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43K is 500 x 86 and 28.5K is 300 x 86

PH is showing the amounts you'd make with 500 or 300 hives.

HTH

FG
 

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