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Newby BEEK question of Cost and R.O.I.

 
Jobob Fjord
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Hello, I have been researching Bees for almost a year now. I have joined my local club and will be going to a beginners class next month. After agonizing over the kind of hive, I have decided the bees don't care, so why not make it easy for me. I am going with the advice I found on Bush Bees Farm site, using all medium 8 frames with a top entrance and foundation-less frames.

In Virginia right now there is a grant program through the state agriculture and consumer agency. They will reimburse the cost of a hive up to $200. The hive must have the volume of at least two deep 10 frames and must have movable frames. The hive materials must be purchased from a recognized vendor or club. Used hives and homemade hives are not eligible. For more details see link: http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/plant&pest/pdf/Guidelines%20for%20Beehive%20Grant%20Fund%20Program%206_2014.pdf?File=C:/TownHall/docroot/GuidanceDocs/301/GDoc_VDACS_5098_v2.pdf After speaking with the state Apiarist he told me that it can take six to twelve months to receive the funds.

My goal is to start two hives next spring. I want to use a no-chemical-treatment method. I plan to use crush and strain method of honey harvesting. I have attached a breakdown of estimated cost of the hive and the tools. I am going with the bare bones approach. For protection I will use a hat with sown on veil, and gloves. I will wear white overalls and rubber boots with ankle straps.

I need to show my wife that an investment in hives and equipment will give a greater R.O.I. than a savings account and will pay for itself in a few years.

Please take a look at the attachment and tell me where I am all wrong with my numbers and hive setup.

thanks,
Jason




Filename: BEEK hobby cost1.pdf
Description: Description and estimated dollars and cents
File size: 162 Kbytes
[Download BEEK hobby cost1.pdf] Download Attachment
 
David Livingston
steward
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Location: Anjou ,France
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Build your own Warré or Top Bar Hive from scrap wood .
Catch wild swarms
Crush and filter your honey .
Cost zero Return on investment infinite

David

Biobees has all the information free

 
Tomas More
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Location: Santa Barbara
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Jacob,

I see a few things that might effect your ROI. First packages are hard to start and most beginners in my area (Southern California) have a 50% or lower chance of getting the package to survive 3 months or more. The package needs to be feed constantly and there is little you can do if things go wrong. I think that Nucs are a more cost effective way to start a hive.

The USDA annual losses for Virginia are about 45.6%. https://beeinformed.org/2015/05/colony-loss-2014-2015-preliminary-results/
I would assume that you will loose one hive per year. As you gain experience and are better able to manage hives in year 3-4 you may be able to split your hive to create more.

I would suggest to purchase woodenware and a nuc from the same seller such as https://valleybeesupply.com/. I don't know them personally but they seem to fit the grant requirements.

or

Purchase and assemble the woodenware you want as well as 4 or more swarm traps and also put your name out there on craigslist and other places as a swarm rescuer. This is my favorite swarm trap http://beevac.com/swarm-traps/

Check out my website in the signature to see how I get bees. I rescue 200 plus colonies a year.
 
John Master
Posts: 512
Location: Wisconsin
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I have 2 packages last yr that made it til winter, and 4 that made it all summer, one that has 6 boxes stacked up now full of bees. A wise beekeeper told me when getting started to buy new equipment, that you don't want someone else's headaches. While that was good advice I have learned now that if you put a new package of bees on built comb that they take off way faster and get established way sooner than if they have to draw all their own comb from scratch on new bare frames. So with that I would tell you that if you get used boxes and install a package they will have a lot less work to do in getting laying and raising brood. The faster they multiply the more stores they can collect and help ensure their success for building before winter.

Since you will want to get started right away in spring I would buy at least one if not two hives and order packages so you have something to start with but also get some swarm traps out and put your name up on craigslist in the spring. Another option would be to find a local beekeeper and see if you can buy some splits or nucs from him in the spring, then you know you have stock that have overwintered in your climate.

One swarm call I got I split the hive and have two hives now to see if they will overwinter, all for a short drive an hours worth of time and an ad up on craigslist.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
pollinator
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Jobob Fjord: The standard hive body for a colony of bees is a 'deep' at about 9.5" and holds 10 frames. At my place we typically use two of these per colony. We figure cost per colony is about $325 to house the bees. Honey supers are an extra expense on top of that... So it would it take 4 of those medium 8 frame hives to achieve the volume of two deep hives specified by the grant. So based on your order you would only have one box per hive to use as honey supers. Some of our colonies filled 4 honey supers this summer. (That's about 120 pounds of honey per colony, at $6 per pound ==> $720 per colony.) We could have extracted 4 times, but it's easier to just keep stacking on honey supers as the previous one gets filled. We also had colonies that died so honey harvest ==> Zero. We run 9 frames in the standard 10 frame boxes after the comb has been drawn.

We haven't found that colonies get better over time and produce more honey... If they have to build comb, then they may start slower the first year, but after that it's rather random how much any particular colony will produce. Some years are great for most colonies, some are bad for bees in general. We find that 60 pounds per colony is fairly typical, for those colonies that survive...

Other costs that you might incur include: queen excluders to keep the queen from laying eggs in the honey boxes. We either brush bees from the boxes to harvest honey, or blow them off with a leaf-blower. We run many hundreds of feet of electrical chord to power it. We set the honey super on a rack made from scrap 2X4 while blowing. I suppose that your beekeeping club will put peer-pressure on you to use foundation. You may need all sorts of pans, containers, knives, utensils, screens, ropes, etc to process the honey and wax. We ended up dedicating equipment to wax processing, since cleaning something that has had melted wax in it is very troublesome.

Sales of wax can contribute significantly to the income from beekeeping. Especially since you are expecting to crush the comb.

In my apiary, starting packaged bees is straight forward and reliable. They often do better than bees that overwintered here.
 
Troy Rhodes
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I have had good luck with trap or bait hives. Easy and cheap to make. I started with two packages of bees, one made it through the first winter. The survivor died out the second winter. The feral bees seem to be making out pretty good, but they got the benefit of some built up comb.

I have one top bar, and one Langstroth--all mediums. No foundation, no chemical treatment.


The top bar hive seems to produce more swarms, but I plan on doing splits next spring, so that might fix that.

Ask 5 beeks, get 7 opinions.

Read the forums, there are several.

There is only so much you can learn through reading and watching videos, as awesome and useful as those resources are.

 
John Master
Posts: 512
Location: Wisconsin
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and plenty of youtube videos to watch over winter. I learned a great deal of what I know about beekeeping just from watching youtube and seeing what others are doing.
 
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