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Few Questions About Commercial Beekeeping

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New Bee

Joined: 31 Mar 2019
Posts: 4
Location: Duluth

PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 10:55 am    Post subject: Few Questions About Commercial Beekeeping Reply with quote

I am looking at getting into commercial beekeeping as a secondary source of income. Many long nights of research later and I feel like I have a grasp on the basics of beekeeping and have also found that people's reports on the profitability of beekeeping have been the most unpredictable information. After looking further into the beekeeping business it seems that a properly managed apiary can produce sustainable profits. I see that the most common form of profit loss comes from the loss of colonies, mainly due to weak hives. So my main focus at first will be on building strong hives that can over-winter without any problems, but I will also spend a significant amount of time focusing on other areas as well.

I have a few questions about commercial beekeeping and what to expect. All the research in the world cannot makeup for hands on experience and I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to hear from some experienced keepers on some obstacles I may encounter and how to overcome them. I will list my goals and the primary questions I have, but any information is greatly appreciated.

My 5 Year Goal:

- Secure an investment into the business that will cover all the costs of setting up 100 bee hives

- At the end of year two have 100 bee hives built, while putting as many to use as possible

- Take the summers to contract out hives to orchards, while also harvesting the honey and splitting the hives to sell bee packages thereafter

- Hire someone to help me maintain the beehives while I attend school

Here are some of the questions I have, but any advice is appreciated:

What is the most efficient and least costly way to attain bees for a starting beekeeper (Goal is 100 beehives)? I have three beehives right now that I will be able to split next summer, but this puts me short of my goal.

On average, how many locations are you able to take bee hives to each season for pollination services?

In a routine check, what is the average amount of time you spend checking one hive?

What are some methods you've used in strengthening colonies for over-wintering?

In order to produce the most honey, while also being able to move the beehives to orchards for pollination, what would you recommend as the best hive set up and hive management methods?

What can I expect the first couple years of keeping bees?

Any other advice is greatly appreciated


Last edited by Fitaci on Tue Apr 09, 2019 4:05 am; edited 1 time in total
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Foraging Bee

Joined: 18 Jan 2016
Posts: 139
Location: central Belgium

PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Steven,

These are a lot of questions. It is very obvious that you are very keen on starting this bee business.
My advice is to consider the fact that if you make a business out of your hobby: you will loose the hobby.

I think you are still in school? Why not take a more modest approach and handle about ten hives the first few years. That way you have lots of opportunity to make mistakes and learn without it being too costly. Then if you still have the drive you can slowly expand without too much growing pain.
Hiring folk to help out would be my last choice. If the workload becomes too big you might consider finding a working partner.

On the matter of checking the hives: You can save a lot of time by knowing before hand what you will be looking for. If there is no obvious reason to go looking than don't go looking.
For example in mid februari I checked my hives for three things: ample food stores, brood present or not and space availability. I checked my 18 hives in one hour. The trick is to move on as soon as the question is answered. Make short standard notes. Don't go looking for the queen unless you have to. Lots of information about the state of the hive, can be seen on the outside.

I hope this helps a little.
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