Humans have been beekeeping for over 9,000 years. In that time, we’ve learned how to care for bees, keep them healthy, extract a portion of their honey, and utilize them to pollinate our crops. It really is a great cooperative relationship. Best of all, with the right planning, hard work, and insights, beekeeping can be profitable, or at least provide a steady, supplemental income.
If you want to keep bees and make some money, it’s essential to transition from hobby-mode to livestock mode. Being a weekend and evening beekeeper is far different than someone who keeps bees for a living. Making the distinction, even if it’s just acknowledging the added work hours, is a vital step.
Plan Ahead for Success
Like any business, you must plan ahead for your expenses. Overhead with bees include your beekeeping clothing and gear, brood boxes, bees, medication, food for your bees in winter, as well as transportation if you plan to use them to pollinate crops. Those costs can add up fast, so keep track of every penny.
Treat beekeeping like a business and be okay with mistakes. If something goes wrong, learn from it, fix it, and keep working. Additionally, consider what kind of product or service you will be selling. Will you harvest the honey, jar it and sell it locally? Will you make candles and other items from the wax? You can also rent your hives out to farmers and ranchers when they have issues with pollination. Also, consider how many hives you’ll need to manage to meet your income needs. The more hives you have, the more you can make overall.
Just remember, weather will play a part in how much honey your bees produce, so just like other farm commodities, your output can be a bit unpredictable. Want to ensure your honey prices are in line with other beekeepers? Check out the updated retail honey prices from the National Honey BoardTM.
There’s a Shortage of Bees
You may have heard that some bee populations are declining. According to Project Apis m., over 40% of managed honeybees in the U.S. died in 2017. That means, if you have thriving hives, your bees may be in demand for crops as well as honey production.
Making Money Pollinating Crops
The use of honeybees in pollinating crops such as fruits, berries, vegetables, and alfalfa is valued at $20 billion per year. Hauling dozens of hives to farms and ranches can be a profitable enterprise. Be sure to add the cost of your personal transportation, food, and overnight stays to and from the location into your overhead.
Know Your Local and State Laws
Depending on your city ordinances, beekeeping might be illegal inside city limits and subdivisions. Additionally, both Oregon and Washington have laws around selling honey products.
In Oregon, if you own your own hives and you’re selling direct to the consumer, you do not need a license. This includes wholesale honey extractors with 20 or fewer hives. Washington state has similar laws for small and direct-to-consumer operations, but does require that all honey be free of contaminants and properly labeled with the word “Honey,” the name and address of your beekeeping business, as well as the net weight and grade of the honey. If you add flavors or process your honey in Washington state, you will need a WSDA Food Processor’s License.
Coastal Knows Bees
All of the beekeeping gear, medication, boxes, and tools you need to care for your hives are at your Northwest owned and operated Coastal. When you’re ready to start your adventure in beekeeping, stop by and we’ll show you everything you need, including how to order your first set of bees.
Don’t forget about the Coastal 101 Live: Getting Started with Beekeeping. Tune in Live on Friday, February 15th at 6:30pm.
Coastal 101 LIVE: Getting Started with Beekeeping