How Profitable is Beekeeping?
Some people get into beekeeping just for the fun of it. While others are looking to make a profit. Honey, beeswax, pollen, and propolis can be harvested from beehives and sold. So, how profitable is beekeeping? And what is the beekeeping profit per hive?
Before you get into beekeeping as a business, there will be some start up costs. Of course, this varies depending on how many hives you plan on keeping. The good news is that if you buy quality beehives, they should last you for years to come.
Start Up Costs
Assuming you are new to beekeeping there is some investment that must be made in the beginning. Beehives, tools, protective clothing, and extraction equipment must all be bought. The best type of beehive to use for profit is the Langstroth hive. That’s because they yield the highest amount of honey of the 3 main types.
I’d recommend going with unassembled 10 frame langstroth hives. They’ll be cheaper since they are unassembled, and 10 frames will allow for more honey. If you go with a wax coated beehive, like Hoover Hives, you’ll save even more money because those hives do not need to be painted.
Beehive kits will include 2-3 boxes, frames, and foundation. These are perfect for starting out. Once your colony is thriving, you can get more boxes to add on. Basic beehive kits typically run about $150-$200. You’ll also need to purchase some basic tools and bee suits.
If you have a lot of hives you’ll probably want to use a honey extractor to harvest honey. Honey extractors work much faster than the crush and strain method. You can expect to spend about $150 for a manual extractor, or $200-$300 for an electric one. An electric uncapping knife is also good to have for honey extracting. Those will run you about $30.
Unless you catch a swarm, bees cost money too. Nucs are about $150. A package of bees are around $100. And if you happen to need a queen during the season, they are usually sold for $25 each.
Your start up costs will vary depending on how many hives you keep. You can expect to spend around $500 to set up your first hive and supplies. Then, add another $200 for each additional hive.
Other costs you need to take into account are supplies for selling your products, such as jars and labels. If you plan to sell online, you’ll need to pay for a website and advertising. And you’ll need to keep track of your profits, which may require software.
Beekeeping Profit Per Hive
Now that start up costs are out of the way, let’s discuss how profitable beekeeping really is. We will do this by looking at beekeeping profit per hive.
Keep in mind that you likely won’t harvest honey the first year. A new bee colony takes some time to get established and to produce excess honey. The amount of honey a colony produces can also vary year to year depending on the weather, nectar flow in your area, and the health of the colony.
A strong, healthy colony can produce 100 pounds of honey in a season. However, that’s when all the conditions are just right. Realistically, let’s say you harvest 60 pounds of honey per hive.
Now you need to decide how much to sell your honey for. Natural, local honey can sell for much more than the stuff in grocery stores. It depends on your location, but it’s safe to say that you can charge $10 per pound. That puts you at a profit of $600 per beehive, per year.
Beeswax is another product created by bees that can be harvested and sold. It has a lot of uses such as cosmetics, skin care, crafts, furniture polish, health products, and more. You can make beeswax products like candles and lip balm yourself to sell, or you can process and sell the beeswax as is.
How much you can sell your beeswax for depends on your area. Right now, I see beeswax pellets or bars selling for anywhere from $12 to $20 a pound. If you are up for making beeswax candles, there is a market for that. Large, decorative 100% beeswax candles sell for over $20.
Pollen and Propolis
Two other things that can be harvested from beehives are pollen and propolis. Bees collect pollen from flowers and bring them back to the hive. If you instal a pollen trap on your hive you can harvest and sell pollen. Used as a health supplement, pollen usually sells for $3-$5 per ounce.
Propolis is a resin like substance made by bees to fill holes and cracks in the hive. Like pollen, propolis is a health supplement that is harvested by using a propolis trap. Propolis chunks are sold for $6 – $8 an ounce, while propolis extract sells for $15 an ounce.
Pollination for Profit
Another way beekeeping is profitable is by using the bees for pollination services. In fact, some beekeepers only practice migratory beekeeping, in which they travel around the country pollinating various crops. Migratory beekeeping is extremely important to farmers, so these beekeepers make a good amount of money for their services.
While migratory beekeepers manage hundreds of beehives at a time, hobby beekeepers can partake in pollination for profit as well. Smaller farms would require just a few hives to pollinate their crops, so a hobby beekeeper would be ideal for this.
The cost of renting bees for pollination varies depending on the season and area, but in general, farmers will pay $40 – $150 for pollination services.
How profitable is beekeeping? Depending on how many hives you have, you can make a profit. However, it really depends on the season and nectar flow. There are start up costs when getting into beekeeping. After that, you can expect a beekeeping profit per hive of around $600.