Thinking about doing bees. Is it really worth it?

Green Acres Farm

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All of the above. They are fun, frustrating, time consuming, money consuming and a lot of work. But........then you taste that honey, and it's all worth it. (and I didn't even get bees for the honey)

They can be a lot of work, especially the first year because you are learning so much. Every time I open my hives, I learn something.

You have to stay on top of them in the peak nectar times, they can run out of room FAST! And then they will swarm on you. One of my hives swarmed this summer, and I was able to catch it, so now I have 3 hives. I really don't want any more than that right now.

Definitely treat for mites. I didn't my first year, and I lost them over the winter.
How do you treat for mites? I don't have bees or plan on getting bees anytime soon, but I'm jut curious.
 

Happy Chooks

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There are various different treatments. I can only tell you about Apiguard. It's thymol based, and the super has to be off the hive when you treat. Thymol is heavier than air, so you put it on the top of the box, with a spacer. The bees groom themselves and the mites fall off and die. The bees can tolerate the thymol, but the mites cannot.

Treatment gets tricky because the mites adapt. You just try to stay ahead of them. There will always be mites in your hive. All it takes is 1 drone to fly into your hive. (they prefer drone larva)
 

soarwitheagles

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Is it really worth it?

Great question!

This is now my third year keeping bees. We started with one hive. Now we have over a dozen. We are into this project about $2000. Have not received one penny in return yet.

I believe there are several variables you need to consider before deciding if it is worth it for you.

Here they are:

1. Do you have lots of free time?
2. Do you have enough money for the initial investment?
3. What are you goals and does your location flow support your goals [example: hobby, make lots of honey, do lots of hive multiplication, etc.]?
4. Are you willing to spend hours upon hours of reading to be an educated and successful beekeeper?
5. Will bee stings dampen your initial enthusiasm?
6. Do you love and enjoy working with bees?
7. Do you have a significant bee fear factor?

After three full year of beekeeping, my wife and I realized it requires way too much time for our tight schedules. Therefore, starting next spring, God willing, we will split all our hives, hopefully get up to 25 hives, sell 20 of those hives before June at $200 per hive, and go back to a simpler and easier quantity of hives as in 3-5 hives.

If all goes according to plan, we will have doubled our money, but the considering the amount of time we put in, we probably made less than $1 per hour.

Sure was fun, and if I was retired and had lots of extra time, I would like to keep larger numbers of hives.

Hope this helps!



Colorful paper to help queens.JPG

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canesisters

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It can be a VERY expensive hobby. It can be immensely satisfying. It can be terribly frustrating.

There is a moderate amount of work involved with just a few hives, but it must be done in a timely manner (on their schedule, not yours) or you will be geting into the frustrating part.

I started two March s back, I've probably spent over $3K... with no return other tha a pile of bees and 60lb honey.

Currently have 5 langstroths and 16 Topbars.

YIKES!!! I've been one of those who sorta-kinda-maybe consider the idea of adding bees to my farm every year... I knew it could be expensive but … WOW! I think I've only spent a little more than that to buy and keep my dairy cow. :eek: I had NO idea.
 

soarwitheagles

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UPDATE:

If you have the time, keeping honeybees can be totally worth it under some special sets of circumstances...

Fortunate for us, we are experiencing those special sets of circumstances...

Before I describe these circumstances, I would like to preface it with this: We did not get into honeybees for monetary purposes.

Our circumstances:

1. We live near millions upon millions of almond trees [the almond orchard we brought our bees to was only 7 minutes away].
2. Our winters are incredibly mild [our queens were laying eggs like machine gunners in January and this is very, very uncommon for most beekeepers].
3. We chose to deeply educate ourselves about honeybees by massive reading and working with professional honeybee keepers.
4. We live in a forest that provides some very good pollen and nectar for some months.

Next, the math:

We receive approximately $200 per honeybee colony rental from Feb- mid March.
From mid-March until June, we can split our colonies 2-4 times, [multiply 100 colonies into 200-400 colonies], or, make 1000 nucleus colonies out of every 100 normal size colonies.

Under these circumstances a beekeeper can make money:

100 colonies per year breakdown:

$20,000 from almond orchard pollination
$20,000 from splitting colonies, or
$150,000 from making and selling nucleus colonies, much, much more if you sell package bees.

None of these figures includes the money you make for honey. The money made from honey is a lot too. These figures also do not include money made from grafting queens. We do that too.

So back to your original question: is it worth it to keep bees...

Monetarily wise, yes, if your conditions and circumstances are right...for us, the monetary worth and gains are such that we have set our goal on 1,000 colonies.


Last, is it worth it regarding all the time, hard work, risks, heart aches, disappointments, stings, etc. if you do not sell or rent your bees?

For me, it would be worth it if we only kept 5-10 colonies AND did our homework as to how to meet the needs of the honeybees [mite treatments, feeding, etc.] in a manner that they would thrive, not die or barely get by. To keep bees successfully, you MUST know what you are doing. It is not a matter of simply throwing them in a box and harvesting honey whenever you want [this was my original faulty thinking].

Hope this help!
 

babsbag

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I keep two hives with a moderate amount of success and failure. But there is no way it cost $3000 to set up a hive.

200.00 for the bees.
100.00 for the suit
200.00 for a kit, hive body, frames, and smoker
200.00 for another hive body, frames, and honey supers.

That is really all you need to get started. You need to treat for mites in the fall and that will cost, but less than $50.00

It does take time, patience, and observation.
 
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