Growing a bee business?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Little Man, Jun 3, 2010.

  1. Little Man

    Little Man New Member

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    What are some of the businesses that a person considering a career in beekeeping should consider.Just wondering, thanks.
     
  2. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    finding a good banker and shrink to keep your addiction in check :drinks:

    in reality honey sales is just a small percentage of a beekeeps income we derive ours from selling lip balms lotion bars homemade soap honey straws pollen honey nucs collecting swarms and doing cutouts. not much calling for polination in our area

    that reminds me got to go got an appointment with my shrink :thumbsup:
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Any good business has many small incomes, not just one large one.
     
  4. Mama Beek

    Mama Beek New Member

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    Just so y'all have the whole picture...... Little Man is doing an assignment for school. He has to research a career field and come up with a rough plan of how to work his way from the bottom up in that field and present his findings in a few weeks.

    He will most likely be asking more questions here as time goes on.... so don't hold anything back, he needs all the information he can get, the pros and cons, things he may or may not be able to consider without someone explaining it to him because of his age etc.

    Thanks for helping him!
     
  5. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    Thanks for the explanation mama bee and the following is somewhat to largely expansive of riverrats and iddee comments....

    My guess (well actually perhaps better than a guess since I have two degrees of three that are business oriented) that about half (<a very conservative estimate on my part) the problems of any business large or small is related to cash flow (actually at one time that particular topic was my specialty). Cash flow of course is tracking WHEN (ie the timing) cash leave the business and when cash come back into the business's coffer. The topic is particularly important in regards to most all agricultural concerns since you are spending money all year long, but the firm's product is typically sold in one particular season or month.

    This large and persistent problem suggest three primary remedies:
    1) as a beginning operation you will need to quickly learn to control spending since it is a long time till the next pay day.
    2) diversify your product mix so that you have money coming into the business spread out over more of the year<reference iddee and riverrat's comments.
    3) since the residual between inflows and outflow of cash when negative (ie you are spending more than you are taking in) are typically taken up by borrowing (at the front side typically from family but later usually from banks) learn how to market your credit and learn to do this early. much like any tool learning to use credit at the 11 hour will typically leave you in a worse position than you were before you found a banker.

    almost all assets held by a beekeeper have very limited to almost no collateral value to any banker... so the underlying rational for any banker to lend you money is the banker's confidence in you as a beekeeper.
     
  6. Mama Beek

    Mama Beek New Member

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    So it would be best to look at any business with bees as sort of "multiple" businesses and work hard to diversify the opportunities to produce income?? Like 1)sell honey, 2)sell nucs 3) sell queens 4) make value added products to market like soaps, salves, flavored honey products etc. 5)gather propolis and pollen for selling...... and so on??
     
  7. Little Man

    Little Man New Member

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    don't know where my post went when I hit submit so I'll try it again. Thanks y'all for all of your help! I was wondering about how profitable queen rearing would be, what are the start up costs, and would that be a good way for a young beekeeper to make money?
     
  8. rast

    rast New Member

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    Little Man, raising queens for an income is an 8 day a week job as Larry Tate described it to me after I warned him. The manipulations must be done on an exact schedule, including Sundays. Forget anything else you want to do next Saturday cause you have to cut queen cells for the people that are picking them up Sun.
    Diversification. Big word, a little of this, a little of that. A dollar here, a dollar there, it adds up. That is helping me get out of the red and into the black. The easyist income I made this year from bees was from pollination. The honey sales are adding up fast, just didn't get enough to get me to the black. I am going to add bee sales to it this next year.
    Keeping whatever you do small enough can usually turn a small buck. That's how I would start.
     
  9. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Mama Beek has the idea. Many avenues of income doesn't have the catastrophic effect when one or two plays out, as a one avenue income does. Also, most large incomes require certain stipulated hours. Most small incomes can be done at your discretion, with times being adjustable.

    Remember, 100 10 dollar bills is equal to a thousand dollar paycheck, and much easier to handle. It isn't all spent before it arrives.
     
  10. Mama Beek

    Mama Beek New Member

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    I'm sure it would help Little Man bunches if he could get a good picture in his head of how to get from where he is right now.... 4 hives and some basic knowledge and a good work ethic, to a profitable business. He's trying hard to figure this out and get an idea of how to "plan for growth".

    So, if y'all were 14 and able to start from scratch knowing what you know now, what do you wish that someone had told you? What avenues of income would you have tried to develop first and how would you go about it? What kind of education would you pursue to help in your endeavors? ...... I know there are other questions, but I'm sure Little Man will remind me as he goes through this thread.

    Thank y'all for being kind enough to do this.... I know answering questions for young folks gets tedious at times. If it helps at all, this young fella is truly trying to learn here and is very grateful for all the help he gets.
     
  11. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a young person without question must have little curiousity?

    1) get to some understanding of bee biology... this gives you some idea of the largest non man made limitation you will be dealing with.

    2) look around you and try to locate the nearest potentials not only in terms of honey flows but markets. try to manage stuff as not to depend on any one thing but always remembering that you can easily spread yourself too thin also and any kind of resource (including your own energy) is limited also.

    3) along with biology study a bit of accounting and business management.

    I hope you notice the young fellow from Texas that was featured in the latest ABJ.
     
  12. rast

    rast New Member

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    First, as Tec stressed, an education! Not only in keeping bees, but math so you know how much it costs you to do whatever. In correct grammar so you can deal with people on whatever level you need too to sell them something. In reading and comprehension, you can't learn it if you don't understand what you are reading.
    Public relations, so that grouchy old landowner is happy to let you put some hives on his property.

    What do I wish I had known prior to expanding my number of hives?
    That I would never have enough hive components. I am always finding myself running short on something no matter how many covers, bottom boards, frames or boxes I build or buy. I think I build enough ahead of time and poof, they are gone.
    What would I do with 4 hives @ 14. Try to turn them into 6 and sell 1. Understanding that the money he gets from the sale has to go back into turning the 5 he has now into 7 or 8. The money has to go only for bee expenses only even though it may be fall or spring before he can make eight. But, look at it this way, he has doubled his net worth in hives in 1 year. This economically cannot be done from buying packages. Only from successful splits raising their own queen. This also does not account for possible hive losses.
    Yes Tec, I saw that article on that remarkable young man.
     
  13. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    First and foremost, keep the business separate from everything else. The 4 hives do not belong to little man. Decide what colonies, boxes, supers, ETC. belong to him. Do not mix with other family members equip. I know they get along fine now, but there will be resentment in the future, whether it is shown or not. Then start a bee money box or jar. All proceeds little man takes in goes there, and it is only to be spent on bee supplies, equip., and expansion. Keep a set of books from the very beginning, starting with the value of the initial stock.
     
  14. cow pollinater

    cow pollinater New Member

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    Little man,
    Before you take another step you will need to figure out where the money is going to come from in the long and short run and grow in that direction as funds allow. The answer for your area will be different than the answer in my area or any other area.
    If queens are a better source of cashflow than honey, then queen rearing equipment would be a better investment than an extracter. If large scale pollination is your goal then the queen rearing equipment and the extracter are both poor investments. Ask local farmers about their pollination needs, local beekeepers about their queen needs and also about honey sales in your area. Find out how much a nuc sells for in your area and what a pound of honey is worth. What is small scale pollination worth in your area? What is large scale pollination worth in your area? You might find that your business plan includes a change right from the start. Example: I started out with three hives and sold the honey at my wifes farm stand. As it grew I knew that I would have to much honey to market at a premium so when I hit that point I split like crazy and gave up on honey to get to almond pollination numbers... I now have over two hundred hives and the only honey equipment I own is an old hand crank extracter. Rather than focus on a small nitch market I grew in a limitless direction but I can still go back and fill the nitch market if I choose.
    Also, There will be some initial investment but it should be in your plan for the bees to pay for themselves plus some after the first few years. Every time you do something with them, charge them for your time and any gas money or hired help that you put into them and then look to see if you made money. If you do it that way, you will find that the new forklift that you thought you needed can wait a few years and hand-loading pays the bills. Once you get to where you need a tax write-off then a forklift looks like a good investment. :mrgreen: The first step is to sharpen your pencil and make the numbers on paper tell you how to grow.
     
  15. cow pollinater

    cow pollinater New Member

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    Here's another hint about how your brain needs to work in order to run a business, since most of my time on the internet is spent researching bees, citrus trees, and cattle (my three main businesses), I average out how much time I spend researching each of the above and split my internet bill up between the businesses accordingly so that I can see the true cost of each of the businesses ;) .
     
  16. Little Man

    Little Man New Member

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    Well thanks a lot guys! I was also wondering what y'all thought the best way to split a hive is.
     
  17. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    Little Man,
    You appear to be a young person full of questions, which is a good thing. I recommend that you try to find a club and then a mentor near you. A group of real live people who you can talk to and visit w/ in person. You can get some hands on experience w/ them. They can help you and you can help them. I'm sure that there are such people in your area.

    Then I would get some books, perhaps some ebooks, I don't know. There are loads of books about beekeeping. There may even bee one or two that are specifically for beekeeping where you live.

    I hope you can be patient w/ life and grow into a long term relationship w/ honeybees and beekeeping. There is alot to learn and a life time to learn it in.

    Best of luck to you.
     
  18. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    as far as education goes little man there are things you learn from a book and things you will only learn by doing it. in beekeeping, or any business, or even degrees for that matter I would like to think the two ways compliment each other.

    for myself.. the few years I devoted to working for commercial beekeepers exposed me to a lot of information and experience you would never pick up in a book.