Honeybee Farming: a Quick Guide

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honeybee farmers

You moved several years ago to Layton to work for one of the companies that make drum heaters, cylinder heaters, and custom blanket, among others. You’re still enjoying your job, but you are now looking for additional sources of income.

You have been thinking about putting a honeybee farm in your backyard. Your intent is not to compete with the big commercial companies or medium to large-scale farmers. You want to be a small producer, perhaps even start as a hobbyist. Your company is also supportive and offered to provide you with some of the thermal equipment used to keep thick liquid, like honey and oil, from solidifying.

So how do you start honeybee farming? These ideas will set point you in the right direction:

The Honeybee Farming Industry

beekeeper handling the honeybeesBeekeepers in the US are estimated to be between 115,000 to 125,000. In 2018, the total revenue for the beekeeping industry was $843 million. The annual growth rate for honey-making is an astounding 9.5% from 2013 to 2018.

In 2017, The USDA estimates that around 1.47 million pounds of pure honey were produced from around 2.67million colonies. The average consumption of honey in America is around 1.51 pounds per capita per year. These numbers look very promising indeed.

How to Start

You’re going to build wooden hives, buy a protective suit, or even get a smoker to run a honeybee farm. But that’s the meaty part of the process of entering this business. You need to know all the main steps from start to finish. Consider the following:

  1. Determine if it’s allowed. One of your first steps is to find out from your local authorities if you can farm bees in your area. Not every local government provides a permit for such an operation.
  2. Do your research first. Where are you going to source the bees? How much will it cost? How much space do you need? These are just a few of the questions that you need to investigate before plunging directly into the business.
  3. Know the cost. You’re going to have to make a business plan. That’s a given. You need to be clear on the financials, particularly the cost of building your colonies to produce honey. Here’s a list of the main requirements and the cost involved.
  1. Bees. $100 – $135. You can source packaged bees from large-scale farmers to start your colonies. The package would include a handful of workers and in a separate box the mated queen. A nucleus hive or a full hive would cost more, at around $175 to $350. Catch a swarm in a forest somewhere, and you get it for free…that is if you do catch one!
  2. The Hive. $150 – $300. The hive is a box composed of several parts: the floor at the bottom, boxes, frames, foundation, and a cover.
  3. Accessories. $100 – $300. For protection, you will need at least a glove, a veil, and a suit.
  1. Beekeeping Tasks. You tend to your crops by providing proper irrigation and fertilizer. Beekeeping requires similar regular tasks that you perform. Spring is usually the best time to start a colony. You need to learn when they lay eggs or brood and how fast their number increases.

The last steps include harvesting honey, packing, and selling it. Learn how to do these things and discover ways to fine-tune your efforts. Continue to look for online resources, including videos on how to become a successful beekeeper.