Jumping on the honey bee hobbyist bandwagon? Before embarking on this remarkable hivin’ and jivin’ journey, it’s wise to consider the cost of beekeeping.
As with any special interest, beekeeping involves both a financial investment, as well as a time commitment. Here are some important elements to explore, to help you get the biggest buzz for your beekeeping buck.
What is the cost of beekeeping?
The Secret Cost of Beekeeping: Revealed!
Beekeeping is a hobby that requires participants to throw in some start-up cash. Now before that reality crushes any of your honey-lovin’ hopes, here’s some enlightenment about the cost of beekeeping that’s sure to sweeten the deal.
- Most beekeeping supplies are typically one-time buys.
- Equipment is reasonably priced, so your purchase(s) won’t break the bank.
- As your hobby progresses, reap the benefits that your hive’s inhabitants have sowed! Selling bee products like wax and honey can pay off your initial beekeeping costs, slowly but surely.
Feel better about how much it costs to start a beehive? Fantastic! Then let’s crunch some numbers related to costs typically* associated with beginner beekeeping.
- Beginner’s kit** (typically has manual, hive, frames, smoker, veil, gloves, hive tool, etc.) – $250
- Bees** (3-lb package is recommended; queen may or may not be included, so make sure to check with your supplier, as she’s a must!) – $125
- ‘Apiary armor’: beekeeping suit – $80; veil – $10; helmet – $20; gloves (leather, to elbow) – $25
- Hive – $235
- Medications – $100
- Bee food/nutrients – $50
- Smoker – $35
- Smoker fuel – $5
- Hive tool – $10
- Beginner’s guide to beekeeping (book or DVD; optional) – $50
- Beekeeping class (optional; pricing ranges between suppliers, but on average you can expect to get a great one-day or multi-session course without paying more than…) – $300
Time is Money, Honey
In general, various types of bees are pretty good at naturally fending for themselves in the wild. Honey bees, however, require more deliberate TLC to survive and thrive.
In this sense, when it comes to the cost of beekeeping, this hobby comes with a price tag in the form of a time commitment.
This is especially true when diving into your first season of backyard beekeeping, while your honey bees are settling into their new abode. When beekeeping is enjoyed leisurely (with just one hive to tend to), expect to devote about 40 hours annually to your striped companions. Your hours are likely to increase once you start harvesting honey, especially if you add more hives to your stash of backyard buddies.
Essentially, here is what a year in the life of a beekeeper will look like…
- If it’s your rookie season: implement your bees into their new apiary home
- Feed bees every other day until they’re acclimated to new surroundings (1st season beekeeping)
- 2-3 hours/week dedicated to observing and caring for your bees
- Inspect hive(s) every 7-10 days in warm weather
- Continue hive inspections every 7-10 days
- Make repairs, replacements, or additions to hive(s) as needed
- Harvest honey (if/when needed) — remember, selling it can help offset your initial cost of beekeeping!
- Begin prep for winter (make repairs to hive, etc.)
- Able to reduce hive inspection frequency, as bees are less active
- If your first season as a beekeeper is coming up, this is the time to order your bees!
- Educate yourself further on your honey-lovin’ hobby (rookies and veterans alike)
- Ensure beekeeping equipment for the upcoming season is in good working order
- Periodically check that your honey bees have ample food to tide them over the chilly months
- Inspect the hive itself occasionally, to ensure it hasn’t taken any hits from adverse winter weather
- If you’re a seasoned beekeeper and plan to add more hives, building new bee abodes is a great winter project!
If you are interested in pursuing bee product sales as a means of off-setting the cost of beekeeping, or even as a small business venture, check back with us shortly for insights on how to make that happen.
But first, up next in our beekeeping series in honor of National Honey Month, we’ll investigate: Who’s Who in the World of Hives and Honey?
*The cost of beekeeping quoted here reflects equipment of reliable quality, with an economical price tag. The majority of these costs are rounded up, in hopes of eliminating any gaping price differences among beekeeping equipment suppliers. (Because let’s face it, being under-prepared for a shopping spree can be a real buzzkill at the register, right?). You can certainly find beekeeping supplies boasting a much higher price, if you wish. You’re also likely to find beekeeping supplies at lower prices or sold as used products. However, many bee professionals will advise against investing in used equipment, as it could potentially (and unknowingly) be tainted by disease from previous use. It’s always best to invest with a supplier you know, trust, and have easy access to for questions/concerns.
**Shipping may or may not be included in price, as this varies by supplier and your location.