Getting the cart ahead of the horse

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by rast, Nov 16, 2009.

  1. rast

    rast New Member

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    There comes a time when you need a realization check. Handling a larger number of hives with only a 1/2 ton pickup truck and a small 10 foot trailer and your back, maybe 2 backs. I can't afford to go buy a bobcat and 2 ton flatbed truck right now, but I can afford the hives to fill it right now. Unless you are very fortunate, bees in Fl. have to be moved to get 2 honey crops if the weather cooperates and citrus is chancy anyway. I made myself a 5 year bee business plan last year on hive counts, expenditures, and income. The hive counts are exceeding, expenditures are exceeding and of course income is far behind after the late freezes.
    Any input appreciated.
     
  2. XLB

    XLB New Member

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    about how many hives is a large number of hives? if you don't me asking.
     

  3. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    The demand for bees makes selling nucs far more easier and profitable than honey, at least for me.

    How much honey you getting per hive?

    If you got 50-75 per hive for a year round site ( I did not listen to those who said I could not charge for a year round site), make two nucs at 85 dollars, then the per hive income would be $220 or more per hive. Yes, you may need to buy frames and raise queens for the nucs, but no moving hives, no bottling honey, and your back wil last much longer.

    I run a 400-500 operation. I move maybe 25 hives per year, produce almost no honey. But I sell lots of nucs, and all my hives are rented year round, making moving them a forgotten art form. All this with a F-150.
     
  4. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a very much snipped rast quote follow (>) by tecumseh's comments...
    There comes a time when you need a realization check. Handling a larger number of hives with only a 1/2 ton pickup truck and a small 10 foot trailer and your back, maybe 2 backs. I can't afford to go buy a bobcat and 2 ton flatbed truck right now, but I can afford the hives to fill it right now. Unless you are very fortunate, bees in Fl. have to be moved to get 2 honey crops if the weather cooperates and citrus is chancy anyway.
    >good reasoning to grow slowly and only buy that 2 ton truck and bobcat when you really need it. I suspect a lot of folks purchase these when yearly utilization is extremely low and likely an economically unviable choice. you also cannot afford to hurt your back while moving bees. perhaps consider other loading and moving possibilities... perhaps something a little less high tech (which typically also mean less yearly overhead and maintance).

    I made myself a 5 year bee business plan last year on hive counts, expenditures, and income.
    >good for you and I am MOST DEFINITELY impressed. keep that up and you may be one of only a handful of beekeepers who actually know what the $ value of your cost/hive/yr. plans are made based on expections of a number of factors ($ and quantities)... when any of these factors change the $ projection also change. during my banking/industral career (long, long ago in a galaxy far far away) I made up budgets and cash flows for hundred of customers. nothing is static enough that these projected expection ever came even close to reality.

    The hive counts are exceeding, expenditures are exceeding and of course income is far behind after the late freezes.
    >you have been more successful than your budgetary expectation in regards to adding hives. based upon this greater number... higher expense and lower income is what you would reasonable expect to occur. your income is simply being folded back into greater numbers. this is quite a common concern of growing firms.

    ps.. I would expect the financial or physical performance of a business to be quite different based upon what phase of the life cycle the business is experiencing. at this point I would suspect you as a growing enterprise are simply trying to gain expertise and overcome a goodly number of physical obstacles. each level in a firms life cycle provide another set of obstacles and a different set of challanges (physically or financially).
     
  5. LilWilli

    LilWilli New Member

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    I've been rethinking which way to go, or at least expand. I know nothing at all about raising queens, so it would appear that honey might be my only option.As to number of hives---with only my wife and self involved----I would guess I can go to 40 or 50. I have spoken to plenty of folks about putting hives on their land, and gotten almost 100% positive reactions. I do not care to risk going so deep that the quality of our little operation.
    I'd love to sell nucs, but intense study is in order.It may come with time.
    Rick
     
  6. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    bjorn comments are extremely relevant given the market conditions at this point in time. I would not place any $ value on producing and selling hives/nucs myself but I have little doubt that the jist of what he is suggesting is equally as true for me here in Texas as it is in Pa. the kind of skills and mental model required to raise queens or nucs is a bit different from what is required to make a honey crop. if you have goals of pursuing this 'career' long term then you will likely need to think about doing both and at some point in time adding pollination as another income stream. ideally all these business components should somewhat compliment each other by 1) not conflicting with the labor requirments of other products in the mix and 2) provide an income stream at a time of the year when the other products do not.

    In the past I have not moved my hives much. I raise a hive here and either sell it as a 5 frame nuc or move it as a single into the field. this doesn't require much equipment or labor and limits the stress on me and the hives, at some point I will likely add a bit of pollination services to what I do and AM actively working on low tech loading options.... which are essentially a trailer(s) with a simple boom arm and a smaller trailer with a tommy lift. for a lot of folks who are light years away from moving hives by the semi load a simple tommy lift and a two wheel dolley is about as much capital expenditure as most can justify.
     
  7. LilWilli

    LilWilli New Member

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    Thank you for your observations...I value them a lot, as you obviously have a level view of the whole picture, tecumseh. I have seen a boom-arm in action, and was impressed with both the skill of the operator and agility of the boom.
    Rick
     
  8. rast

    rast New Member

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    XLB, to me 40 if I had to move them by hand.
    Bjorn, I had thought about your busness model before and it is very attractive, but I haven't convinced myself it would work here. I am sure you have noticed all the negative statements about buying bees from Fl. due to AHB.
    Thanks for the kinds words and info Tec. At the time, I came up with a figure of $275 to buy and raise a 5 frame nuc to a double box that would produce 40 lbs extractable. That was cost of woodenware, feed and meds. Cost of course goes down with volume and stable inflation and a lot of it was somewhat educated guessing. Cost example; I pay .46 a lb for sugar. At a 1-1 ratio that is just under $2 a gal. If I have to feed 12 weeks and they consume 1 gal a week, thats $24 per hive per year.
    Thank's, Rick
     
  9. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    hey rast, maybe you could build trailers cheaper than you could a truck. Build trailers w/ the hive permanantly attatched. Justa thought.

    I'm not young enuf to do this anymore, and i don't think that you are either, but I used to move hives from NY to SC and from home into the orchard by myself. Me and the Dodge 1 Ton, that is. Two story colonies w/ migratory lids and bottom boards and the two deeps stapled together. I would lean over, grabbing the two opposing hand holds and press the cover into my chest, stand up and pick up the hive and set it on the deck of the truck. Once there were enuf on the truck I would get up on the deck and double stack them. My back hurts now, thinking about it. Though I didn't hurt it doing that. Jumping down off of the truck hurt my feet though.

    Get a flatbed on your pick up. That'll help. And maybe a long ramp and a hand cart.
     
  10. DrB

    DrB New Member

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    I may have just read too quickly through everything above, but did anybody have a business plan they are willing to share? I had 29 hives this past year and want to get to about 150 in the next two-three years. I have someone who is willing to invest with me but wants to see a plan. I've got one started but it could use a dose of reality. I'll be happy to share as well.
     
  11. Bitty Bee

    Bitty Bee New Member

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    I would be interested in reading a good business plan too, although I never plan anything long term as an absolute.

    Rast, if I were to suggest anything it would be to do what works best for you. :thumbsup:
    Curious questions though,
    a) do you have a free lot to keep some hives in?
    b) if so, could you leave half or less of your bees there while you moved the rest of them for the honey flow?
    c) would you have to feed those left behind if you left them there all year or half the year while the rest of your bees are fetching the other honey flow?
    d) would your business make enough money to hire help, that way the whole ordeal might be easier. as long as you don't have to get the help insurance that is. that might make it more complicated. (just to avoid confusion I'm not volunteering, just curios.)

    We are planning on going both ways and selling bees and honey. We have 5 hives right now and 2 that may not make it through the winter. We would like to build them up to sell both products and maybe do a little pollinating locally. We have 4 backs and 3 of them young though, so Its' definitely within our reach. Or I hope anyway! :)
     
  12. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    That is a very interresting business model... can you tell me more about the year-round renting of hives? How did you get the idea, and how did you get started? What is the minimum number of hives that you rent to a single year-round site, and what's the average? Do you also get sizeable honey crops from these hives?