making money beekeepingIf you are like me and many people then you can enjoy beekeeping as a hobby or the beekeeping business.  The reasons include appreciation of nature, desire to produce honey, or to boost garden production through cross-pollination. However, another great reason is the income potential!  That is one reason I got involved.

There are a number of ways to make money beekeeping.  The most obvious method is honey production. Hive production varies, but a healthy bee colony can produce around 50 pounds of honey each year. Honey can be produced and sold on a retail level, through farmers’ markets, local grocers, and health food stores, or to wholesale clients such as breweries.  Asking prices can vary widely, but $4-7 per pound ($12-$21 per quart) is typical for bottled honey, and around $2 per pound ($6 per quart) for bulk honey. Additional honey products include flavored honey, whipped honey, honey butter, honey-flavored candies.

Besides honey, bees produce many other products that can be profitable.  Beeswax can be purified and molded into lubricant bars, and DIY instructions abound online for making beeswax candles and cosmetic products.  Bee pollen, also called bee bread or ambrosia, is reputed to have health benefits when consumed and is sold in health food stores.  Propolis, a resinous substance found in beehives, is used commercially in musical instruments, chewing gum, and car wax.  It is also used medicinally as an antimicrobial, an emollient, and an anti-inflammatory.  Finally, royal jelly, a bee secretion, is used in some beauty products and is also reported to provide beneficial health effects to those consuming it.

making money beekeepingAnother method of making money beekeeping is to rent hives for cross-pollination.  Natural cross-pollination can be difficult in areas where land development has eliminated the natural habitat of pollinating insects, and widespread disease among bee colonies has increased the demand for “bees for rent.”  The market rate is expected to be $75 per hive in 2011.

Beekeepers can also advertise in their local communities to provide swarm removal services.  Asking law enforcement, animal control, and exterminators for referrals when citizens report a swarm can yield removal fees as well as a new hive for the beekeeper.

Beekeeping hobbyists who have had success making money beekeeping may desire to turn their hives into a commercial operation.  The major methods of making money beekeeping remain the same; however, there are some differences between hobbyist and commercial beekeepers.

  • The commercial beekeeper will have several bee yard locations.
  • The commercial beekeeper will move bees often, keeping bee hives on pallets or some other portable structure.
  • The commercial beekeeper will have standardized equipment.
  • The commercial beekeeper will have liability insurance.
  • The commercial beekeeper worries about the bottom line!

If you are considering beekeeping as a career, visit an experienced commercial beekeeper before jumping into the profession.  Large beekeeping operations will require a substantial upfront investment. Costs include the bees themselves; land suitable for the bees to find food while not becoming a nuisance to humans or livestock; buildings to store equipment and supplies and to extract honey; hive and honey handling equipment; vehicles, labor (usually one experienced beekeeper per 500-1,000 colonies); and overhead such as business licenses and insurance.  A more comprehensive listing of items suggested to make money beekeeping commercially can be found here. I use this as a resource all the time to make money beekeeping, and I highly recommend it.

Wishing you great success as a beekeeper,