Commercial keepers in this region generally don't go in for regular inspections, none that I know anyway and that's keepers with up to 2000 hives. Most allow the bees to swarm, some raise their own Queens, some do "walk away splits".
Between 40 and 200 hives is considered to be "semi commercial" I suppose for lack of a better description, that is not enough to really make a living. Over 200 would automatically make you legally a commercial keeper.
Oh, wholesale price, about €3 a kilo for regular honeys but each crop harvest is by negotiation, a lot goes to Germany.
I only have around 30, but because mine are in multiple locations (also have a full time job and family! ), it is sometimes a struggle to get around them all during the rare times we have non wet or cold weather.... especially during peak swarming season.
I am most interested in the comment about double brood. Do the commies ONLY use double brood, or do they manage them with a single, or B+1/2 and only take them to double brood when neccesary.
Currently, I keep detailed records and create a weekly 'hit list' depending on whether they are swarmy, building or may require supers but am always looking for more efficiant ways to do it!
In France the majority of commercial keepers, (there are very few hobbyists anyway), use single BB Dadants, mainly 10 Frame these days for ease of transportation although there are still "12 Framers" about. Single BB Langstroths are used by some and a few use Warré with frames.
Part of the reason that no commercial beekeeper or few have been in this thread is that this time of night is still working hours, I am off out to collect supers now, they then have to be extracted and put back on hives ASAP, time is always the enemy or lack of it.
OK. I was well out on the price of honey. That helps. Very interesting to read what people with lots of hive do. The other thig is getting hives. I have attended a few auctions with prices variable. To get lots of hives, where would you source them? Retail would be, I should think, out of the question.
Who would be the main customers. Garden centres, deli's, health shops etc?
I am quite facinated by all this, but think I will stick with concrete batching/ loading shovel driving for the forseeable. More than happy to keep reading your posts.
Something else I've wondered- to what extent do commercials keep records (taught to amateurs as essential)? I can't see there being time to keep records of every hive at every inspection- records made apiary by apiary perhaps?
Further reading beyond the forum would for me include Manley 'Honey Farming' - although it's 60+ years old his mindset and approach are enlightening to anyone, not just if you are thinking of becoming a commercial producer.
Others that are relevant off the top of my head would be Oliver Field and Donald Sims.
IMHO it's less to do with how many colonies you run, more to do with how you approach their management.
If you factor your time in as a cost at a realisitic wage, and depreciation, travel, electricity, etc. etc, and after all that your balance sheet is in the black most years, then you are not truly an amateur, even with just a few hives.
If you run 100 hives and regularly make a loss with ALL costs factored in, then you are really a large scale amateur - it's only an alternative income (often a pension) that allows the "business" to continue.