A lot of different people nowadays have been turning into beekeepers as a part-time hobby that they can do on the side! Not only because it can be quite lucrative in the long run but also because they just simply love doing it. And while it is a fact that you might be able to make good money later on when you sell honey, does it also follow that beekeeping costs a lot as well? Is beekeeping an expensive hobby or endeavor? Lets find out 🙂
Beekeeping can be an expensive hobby because you would need to shell out a good amount of money at the start as your initial investment. However, after the initial investment, you would find that the expenses and upkeep of beekeeping would start to normalize down to acceptable levels.
In other words, beekeeping can be expensive because of how you would need to spend quite a good number at the start for your initial investment. It would also depend on how large you want your operation to be and on the type of equipment you are planning to use. But, in the end, expect that you would have to spend quite a good sum if you want to be a beekeeper.
How much does it cost to start beekeeping?
One of the rising hobbies that people have been doing nowadays is beekeeping. Yes, that’s right. People actually want to be beekeepers, even though there is a good chance they would end up getting stung by these flying needles. Whatever their own reasons might be, we still cannot deny that there are many more beekeepers nowadays, as people have been realizing how beneficial this hobby can be.
In line with that, just like any hobby in the world, there is no doubt that you need to spend money so that you can start your journey as a beekeeper. Those who want to be beekeepers need to have an initial investment to get the whole thing off the ground, just like how they would need to invest in any other kind of hobby or business at the start. This initial investment can be quite expensive. But how much does it really cost if you want to start your new life as a beekeeper?
Let’s try to break down the initial expenses:
You can’t be a beekeeper without the bees. That’s why the bees are the most important part of your initial expenses, as you would have to invest in your bees to actually become a beekeeper. But the problem here is that buying bees isn’t something as simple as going to the nearby pet store. Instead, buying your first bees can be a bit more complicated than that.
The good news, however, is that there are beekeeper groups that actually make it easier for aspiring beekeepers to acquire their new bees so that they can jumpstart their beekeeping journeys. There will be instances where there will be large-scale beekeeping operations that will allow you to buy packaged bees for a good price. These packages usually involve about 3 pounds worth of bees that already have a young queen. You can find these all over the country, but this is much more common in places such as California.
This is probably the best way for you to jumpstart your journey as a beekeeper because you are already given a good package for a good price. The price you would have to pay for the package would be somewhere between $100 and $135, which is neither too much nor too cheap. It simply is a good price in my eyes, for what you are getting! There are some other places where you can get your bees, but we cannot really say for sure that they will be able to give you a good price.
But instead of a package deal, you can go for hives instead. You can get these from plenty of different beekeepers that have been beekeeping for a while already. And these hives come in all shapes and sizes.
A nucleus hive is good for a mini-colony. It will come in a box of five frames for your bees. This should be the most ideal for beginners who aren’t willing to spend a lot of money at the start of their operation. A nucleus hive can cost you around $125 at the minimum and somewhere close to $175 at the max.
Full hives should be bigger than your usual nucleus hives and are already established. That’s why they already have old queens, but the bees are free to choose a new queen if they want to. These hives are usually sold by established beekeepers. The price will vary greatly but you can get these hives at a price between $150 and $350 depending on the size and condition of the hive and on the reputation of the beekeeper you are buying it from.
Of course, you can also find a good hive of honey bees lying around somewhere in the wild. This is absolutely for free, but you would have to be careful not to get stung by these bees while also making sure that you actually know how to capture wild bees.
The hive itself
If you did not buy a packaged hive, you need to buy the hive yourself, or else the bees won’t have anything to live in. That’s why you need to buy the hive before you even buy your bees, as they need to be able to live somewhere. You also need the hive on your side, because this is how you would be able to collect honey from the bees.
The most commonly used hive is the Langstroth hive, which has a bottom board, two deep boxes including frames and foundation, an inner cover, an outer cover, an entrance reducer, and a stand. Your honey supers (that’s what we call the equipment that collects honey) should be lying around somewhere so that you can easily collect honey whenever there is a good flow of it. Beginners should go for medium-sized supers at the start.
You would probably end up spending somewhere between $150 and $300 for the hive itself.
Accessories will be very important for you because these are what will allow you to take care of your bees. While honey bees can take care of themselves, you would need to make sure of their survival if you want to ensure that they actually survive and are making enough honey for you to quickly earn back your investment.
The accessory equipment you would need varies depending on a lot of different conditions and factors. However, at the very least, you would have to buy protective gear so that you won’t end up getting stung by these bees. If you want to use thick protective gear, you would need to spend more money. Light protective gear can be nice as well because it won’t be as hot and as heavy, but you will be more susceptible to getting bee stings. This is a matter of personal choice. Heck, over at Barnyard Bees he often doesn’t wear any suits or veils 🙂
Some of the other accessories you would probably need are a smoker, a bee brush, a hive tool, and other gizmos and gadgets that may or may not be essential. It really depends entirely on you, but you should make sure that the protective gear is the first thing on your list.
Overall, accessory equipment may make you spend around $100 to $300 depending on how many of these accessories you want to buy and on the overall quality of the equipment.
Believe it or not, pests will be the death of your investments if you don’t prioritize pest control as one of the things you need to buy in your initial investment. Some beekeepers won’t recommend pest control for beginners, but we believe that you should invest in this because you wouldn’t want to end up wasting all of your money and effort if pests end up killing all of your bees.
In that sense, mites should be the top pests that can easily eat up all of your investments. Mite control systems can vary depending on the type of pest control you buy. That’s why this part of your initial investment can cost between $20 and $200. Go for the more expensive pest management system if you can afford it because, believe us, it will be worth it.
Overall, if you go for the minimum, you’d probably spend $370 for your initial investment. However, because you may want to go for the more expensive options because of the higher quality they provide, you can easily end up spending more than a thousand bucks for your initial investment. As such, it is needless to say that being a beekeeper is an expensive endeavor, especially if you look at the initial investment you’d have to shell out.
The number can easily increase if you also look at other expenses, such as regular maintenance and upkeep. However, what we can promise you is that the initial investment is the biggest expense you’d have to shell out if you want to become a beekeeper because the expenses for the maintenance and upkeep won’t be too much. Also, if you want to add a new hive, it’s probably going to cost you around $150, which won’t be too much if you have already started earning money from your beekeeping hobby.
Can Beekeeping be profitable?
The good news here is that, yes, beekeeping can be profitable. And the best part is that the profits you will be making can extend beyond simply selling honey because you can also sell other bee products such as venom, wax, pollen, and propolis.
In America, only a tiny fraction of the honey sold is from the USA. Most is imported, meaning there will be a big appetite in your local community for locally made honey. Kerching!
You can even end up making money for pollinator services by renting your hive to a farmer to pollinate his plants. Or, if you want, you can use your bees for pollination and sell plants and seeds yourself.
Another option is that you can sell your mentorship services to beginner beekeepers, as long as you have already earned enough experience as a beekeeper yourself. The possibilities are simply endless when it comes to the profits you can earn as beekeeping.
However, just temper your expectations because, in most cases, you won’t end up making a lot of money in the first or second year of your beekeeping. It might take at least a couple of years for you to get back your investment but, after that, it might be smooth sailing for you as long as you make the right decisions and that you are taking proper care of your bees.
How many beehives do you need to make money?
The number of beehives you would need actually depends on your target. Truth be told, even one beehive is enough for you to make money if your target is to simply get your returns on your initial investment. As long as your bees are healthy and thriving, you may end up making $600 per beehive whenever you harvest honey.
For those who have higher expectations and are willing to do more work to earn more money as beekeepers, one hive would not be enough. It might be good to go for at least a handful of hives if you really want to make a lot of money out of beekeeping. But you should take note that having a lot of hives would take a lot of effort and would demand more out of you to the point that beekeeping won’t end up becoming just a hobby but an actual job or business. All those hive inspections sure do build up over time!