If Beekeeping interests you or is your pastime hobby, then the thought of turning it into a full-time profession must have crossed your mind. But before you take the plunge, you must find out is Beekeeping profitable.
According to IBISWorld, the market size of the beekeeping business in 2023 is valued at $624.2m and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.75% from 2023 to 2030. At least this shows that there is definitely a rising demand in this business.
But that’s not enough! To turn your hobby into a profession, you must find out the actual numbers that you can make. So make sure you read this guide till the end to find out the answer of your burning question: Is Beekeeping profitable?
What Is Beekeeping?
Beekeeping or apiculture involves maintaining honey bees and their colonies typically by using manmade hives. Some people get into this business as a means of supplementing their hobby, while others consider it because of the variety of products they can sell and make money from.
Someone who is involved in raising, propagating, and producing different products from bees is known as a Beekeeper.
The job of a beekeeper is not that easy. A Beekeeper needs to ensure that the beehives are healthy and productive. For this, they have to take care of and monitor the beehives very closely.
How Much Does It Cost to Start a Bee Farm?
Starting a bee farm business is easy and does not require a lot of money. So, in the initial year of your business, you will require between $500-$700 on average to start a bee farm or bee hive business.
Here’s a breakdown of start-up cost for starting a bee farm:
The first thing that you will need to start a bee farm is obviously bees! So, there are generally four methods of getting bees, and the price of bees depends on the method you choose. Let’s have a look at them:
- Bee Package: This is probably the most common and popular method of getting bees. A bee package can cost you between $100 and $135 and is regularly available in April.
- Split or Full Hive: This one is available all year around and costs between $150 and $350.
- Nucleus Hive: Nucleus Hive can be found from April to June and costs between $125 – $175.
- Swarm: This method of acquiring bees is free of cost, but it is the most stressful. For this method, you simply need to catch a swarm of bees.
The next important thing that you will need is a beehive. We recommend you purchase unassembled 10-frame Langstroth hives. An unassembled frame would cost you less, and ten frames would be a good place to start.
Beehive kits usually come with 2-3 boxes, foundation and frame. Once you start to get the hang of it and your colony starts to build, you can add more boxes. Beehive kits can cost between 150-$200.
The equipment cost is the third major cost in starting a bee farm. Here are some of the equipment that you will need while starting out and their price:
- Honey extractor: $150 to $300
- Protective clothing and gear: $150
- Accessory equipment: $100 to $300
Operation costs including things that are needed to run the farm smoothly. A bee farm is prone to attack from mites, so you will need chemicals for that. You will also need jars and labels to collect honey. All this could cost you between $20 to $299.
7 great Ways To Make Money From Beekeeping
Many people think is Beekeeping profitable? Beekeeping business can be really fun and rewarding because of the multiple channels of revenue this hobby offers. Here are some great ways to make money from Beekeeping:
1. Bee Products
Honey is the first thing that comes to people’s mind when thinking about bee products. However, bee products are not limited to just honey. Let us have a look at the different kinds of bee products that you can produce and sell:
Bees collect Pollen from flowers, bring it back, and distribute it to their colony. Pollen is their major source of protein, and it helps bees produce honey.
It is also a great health supplement for humans, and since it is scarcely available in the market, Pollen can be sold for a higher price than honey.
Pollen generally sells for $3 to $5 an ounce. In order to collect Pollen, you need to place an entrance trap on the hive while ensuring enough Pollen is left for the bees to thrive.
Royal Jelly, or bee milk, is a protein-rich, white substance that is secreted from the glands of worker bees.
The bee larvae are fed this royal jelly for the first three days of their lives. But queen bees eat royal jelly throughout their lives.
This is a precious product and is made in very little quantity. Royal Jelly has been used for centuries for its health benefits and is sold for $6 to $8 for an ounce.
Propolis is a sticky substance that the bees use to seal and disinfect the hives. This product is more expensive than Pollen because of its medicinal properties and is a great health supplement.
The beekeeper can obtain Propolis by using a Propolis trap. Although the beekeeper can obtain this in small quantities only, a healthy hive can provide a steady supply.
Propolis is usually sold for $6 to $8 an ounce.
Beeswax is a versatile product that you can obtain from bees. This product is most commonly used in making candles, wax, lip balm, etc.
So you can sell Beeswax directly, which retails at $10 an lb. Or you can make your own range of lip balms or you can even start a small part-time candle business and sell them separately.
A Candle business is also very profitable, where candles easily sell for over $20 or more.
Locally produced, raw honey is always in demand, and people prefer to buy this rather than buying honey from a retailer. You can sell honey for $10 per lb or even more, depending on the quality.
Lastly, the use of bee venom can be used to treat arthritis and other health conditions. This concept is still being studied and is relatively new, though.
People are also taking bee sting therapy, which is an antitherapy where a person is stung by a bee on the part of their body that is painful to reverse the effect.
You can offer this therapy for a customized price.
2. Offer Beekeeping Equipment
If you know how to use a saw and a drill, then you can build several products and offer them to other beekeepers.
Many products that don’t come with the original hive are in demand. This includes things like slatter racks, entrance reducers, bee feeders, bee escapes, and many more.
You can build these equipment yourself and sell them at a good price.
3. Offer Pollination Services
You can rent your bees for pollination, and so many beekeepers earn an income just by renting and offering pollination services alone.
You can price your pollination service depending on the season, location, and demand. In general, farmers pay $150 for each service.
4. Bee Removal Service
Bees can form hives anywhere, and you can offer bee removal services to residential and commercial clients. You can charge between $150 to $1500 for this, depending on the complexity of the job.
5. Offer Beekeeping Education
If you have been in this field for a long, then you can offer beekeeping education or courses to those who are interested in this.
You can take classes or even allow school visits to your farm and charge a good price in exchange for your knowledge.
6. Sell Bees
Selling bees is another excellent way of generating a lot of money. This will take time, but once you have enough bees, you can start producing replacement bees and starter hives for other beekeepers. Here are some more ways in which you can sell bees:
- Bee packages: This comes with one queen and 3 pounds of bees and sells for $175 on average.
- Established beehives: These sell for $250 and $350.
- Nucleus colonies: A nucleus, which is also known as a nuc, is several honeycombs that come in a box with bees and a queen. A five-frame nuc with a queen can be sold for $200 to $250.
7. Apiary Maintenance
Experienced beekeepers can also help other beekeepers to maintain their beehives for a fee.
There are instances where farmers or horticulturists need to aid pollination for their crops but have no clue on how to do this.
You can partner with different farmers or horticulturists in your area and earn a consistent income from this.
Pros and Cons of Beekeeping
Pros of Beekeeping
- Can be started with very less money
- Offers multiple streams of income
- Requires low maintenance
- Can be scaled up
- Gives useful byproducts
Cons of Beekeeping
- Difficult first year
- Beehives are prone to pests and diseases
- You have to deal with painful stings
- Regulations could be a problem
How To Start a Beekeeping Business?
Calculating Profits In Beekeeping Business
Let us look at how much you can make from a Beekeeping business just by selling honey.
So, the amount of honey that can be generated per harvest varies depending on many factors. Generally, you can expect to produce 40 lbs to 60 lbs per hive. Now, let us take the mid-point to calculate the profits of a beekeeper.
For 50 lbs of honey, let us take a low-price assumption of $5 per pound and 200 hives for a solo beekeeper. So this comes to about $50,000 in revenue.
(50 lbs x $5/lb x 200 hives = $50,000)
At our assumed variable cost of $1 per pound, this comes to about $1/lb x 50 lbs x 200 hives = $10,000.
After considering and subtracting the cost from the revenue, we can calculate that our beekeeper makes $40,000 in profits.
- Profit = Revenues – Costs
- Profit = $50,000 – $10,000
- Profit = $40,000
Note: To determine your profits, replace (price, cost, number of hives) that make sense to you.
How Much Can You Make From Beekeeping?
How much you can make from beekeeping depends on your harvest, the products that you are selling, and your level of experience and expertise, among others.
A Beekeeper can ideally make anywhere between $35,523 to $58,231 or $40,000 on average in annual profits by just selling honey.
Is Beekeeping Profitable?
The profitability of a beekeeping business can vary depending on a lot of factors.
However, beekeeping is certainly profitable, with beekeepers earning as much as $40,000 a year on average by just selling honey. You can increase your income considerably by offering multiple products or services from your farm, including pollens, propolis, beeswax, etc.
Remember, the more experience you gain in this business, and the more products you sell, the more money you can make in this business.
How Many Bee Hives Are Needed To Make a Living?
The number of Bee Hives needed to make a living varies drastically from person to person.
Some require only a few Bee hives to make a living since they know how to market and diversify their income stream.
Some beekeepers focus on making money by selling honey, for which they will need more hives. At the same time, others keep only a few hives and make money by selling equipment or their knowledge.
So there is no exact number that we can give you in this case.
Before you get into the beekeeping business, find answers to the following questions depending on where you live.
- Do you need a business license to raise bees and sell bee products in your area?
- Do you need to register your hives?
- Is beekeeping allowed by the local zoning laws in your area?
- Do you need to have product liability insurance to start beekeeping in your area?
- What other licenses and permissions do you need before starting a beekeeping business?
Is Beekeeping Profitable | Wrap Up
Beekeeping is a great business to get into, as you can do this part time or even full-time.
What we love most about this business is its ability to generate multiple revenue streams by investing less money than other businesses.
However, Beekeeping is not easy. It requires you to deal with bee stings, put in labor and hard work, and show patience.
We hope you found your answer to: Is Beekeeping Profitable in this guide?
Is Beekeeping Profitable? | FAQs
How many beehives can a single person handle?
The answer to this could vary depending on many factors, including time, experience, goals, and hive location. However, as a part-time hobby, a single person can manage up to 25 hives. A part-time but experienced beekeeper can handle 100 to 150 beehives alone, while a full-time, experienced beekeeper can handle 400 to 600 bee colonies with the help of seasonal workers, especially during the harvest season.
Can you make a living by beekeeping?
You can certainly make a living by beekeeping. However, this is not a quick-rich scheme, and building and getting better in this business requires time, hard work, and patience.
Is Commercial Beekeeping Profitable?
Beekeepers who have 300 or more hives are considered as commercial beekeepers. And, of course, they are able to produce and sell honey and related products in large quantities.
This makes commercial beekeeping much more profitable than non-commercial beekeeping.