In the United States, beekeepers make an average pay of $40,300 per year. This average, however, has such a broad range of highs and lows that it is not meaningful. The remuneration of those working in the beekeeping sector depends on various factors.
There are several variables, including the region of the nation where the hives are located, market conditions, beekeeping expertise, and more.
A beekeeper in Alabama may make less money than someone managing hives in California. Suppose you’re thinking about how much money a beekeeper makes for yourself. In that case, you should probably start by asking your state’s agriculture department for guidance on figures that apply to your area.
How much money do beekeepers make?
As a beekeeper, you can earn money in two different ways. The first is getting hired as a beekeeper, and the second is starting your bee farm, where you may buy colonies, raise bees, and produce honey and other products.
The Economic Research Institute estimates that a beekeeper makes an average of $23 (£16.60) per hour and $47,899 (£34,552) per year in the United States.
Depending on expertise and area, a beekeeper’s pay could range from $35,523 to $58,231 (£25,624 to £42,000). Depending on their objectives, beekeepers can earn a wide range of amounts from their hives annually.
How many beehives to make a full-time income?
Most beekeepers that we are aware of who keep bees keep over 200 hives for a living. However, the number of hives needed to generate a full-time income varies from person to person.
If you’re thinking about having this dream, ask yourself these questions. First, how much income is required to be considered a full-time job? What is the cost of living in your area?
Thirdly, will you work by yourself, or do you intend to employ help? All of these contribute to the annual income requirement.
With bees, you can make a lot of money, but you must also be willing to spend a lot of money. The first several years have the highest startup costs. Therefore, the first several years have the highest startup costs. After that, however, the equipment ages and has to be replaced as time passes.
Additionally, beekeeping is a farming activity susceptible to positive and adverse weather effects. Therefore, you will experience both prosperous and unsuccessful years. It is a good idea to save money to get you through the years.
Sources of income for beekeepers
Beekeeping may be a profitable and enjoyable pastime that produces natural honey and aids in pollinating your plants. However, once hooked, many backyard beekeepers are curious about how honey is profitable.
Furthermore, “Is beekeeping profitable?” Beekeeping can be lucrative, and while selling honey might result in a profit, this is not the only option to do so.
Here are a few ways beekeepers can earn money:
1. Bee Products
Selling the products that bees create is the first way to earn money. But, even though most people first think of honey, bees also generate several other things that can be harvested and sold.
Natural, regionally produced raw honey is always in demand, and its manufacturing costs are reasonable. You may flavor, package, and sell honey if there are specific nectar sources close to your hive.
Bees deliver pollen back to the hive from flowers they have visited. They depend on pollen to fuel the colony and it’s their primary nutrition source.
Since only small quantities of pollen are available, it has a higher market value than honey and often sells for $3 to $5 per ounce (£2 to £3,60 for 30 grams). Pollen is also used as a health supplement for some people.
Bees use propolis, a resin-like substance that is sticky and used to patch cracks and clean the hive. Additionally, it is more valuable than pollen and is used as a human health supplement for therapeutic purposes.
A beekeeper can sell propolis for $6 to $8 per ounce (or £4 to £6 for 30 grams).
A white, protein-rich secretion produced by the glands of worker bees is known as royal jelly or bee milk. Bee larvae are fed this royal jelly for the first days of their lives.
After that, royal jelly is fed to larvae selected to become queens during their development, and queen bees consume royal jelly their entire lives. Due to the small production and challenging harvesting, royal jelly is precious.
Another well-known bee product that beekeepers can harvest and sell is beeswax. Beeswax can be sold as is, or you can try to create goods with added value, such as candles or lip balm.
Bee venom is continually being researched and is now being used to treat illnesses including arthritis. It is referred to as “bee sting therapy” and is a type of apitherapy in which bees sting certain body parts.
It’s a fascinating new field of research, and if the knowledge grows, it might open up a profitable new market for beekeepers.
Before you start providing bee sting therapy, you should consider liability concerns. Before administering any therapy, many beekeepers ask venom users to sign a waiver.
2. Pollination Services
It can be highly advantageous to rent your bees out for pollination.
Some beekeepers maintain hundreds of beehives at once for huge farms and make their full-time living only from pollination services.
3. Beekeeping Equipment
There are many items you could construct and sell to other beekeepers if you are skilled with a saw and drill.
There is a demand for items like slatter racks, bee feeders, entry reducers, bee escapes, and many others that are not included in the original hive.
Market your goods through regional beekeeper organizations, and if you have a good product and satisfied customers, you can start a successful side company.
4. Beekeeping Education and Advisory Services
As you develop expertise and become a seasoned beekeeper, you can teach others and make money by providing training and consulting services to beginning beekeepers.
As there is a lot to learn, the first year of beekeeping might be overwhelming. It will be easier for them to succeed if someone is there to train them and offer guidance when issues emerge. Offering classes and advice services are still doable even if you work a full-time job.
5. Bee Removal
Knowledgeable beekeepers might also provide local bee removal services. Then, with minimal expense to the bees, you can make money and grow the number of hives you have.
6. Apiary Maintenance
Seasoned beekeepers can earn by keeping beehives for others and charging a fee.
Horticulturists or farmers frequently want beehives to help with crop pollination but lack the skills or time to operate them effectively.
They are more than willing to pay a beekeeper to care for their bees and keep the hives in good condition.
7. Selling Bees
Selling your bees is a great way to become a profitable beekeeper. Using your hives, you can manufacture starter hives, replace bees, and start hives for other beekeepers.
Since you need the necessary information and bee numbers, it takes some time before you can do this, but it may be quite lucrative once you can.
How many hives can a person manage?
Between 100 and 150 hives can be managed by one person working a full-time job. One individual can handle 500 to 800 bee colonies while working as a full-time beekeeper, but seasonal workers are still needed to help with honey harvesting.
It becomes quite challenging for one person to manage many hives if you are merely keeping bees to produce honey. Managing beehives to produce honey requires much more time and effort than simply breeding and selling bees. In addition, as your apiary grows, making honey requires far more expensive tools and materials.
Average profits per hive
Each year, healthy bees in an area with plentiful nectar supplies can make $300–$500 per hive. However, this assumes that the market where you are selling your honey is prepared to pay a premium for premium raw honey.
Even small-scale backyard beekeepers can sell the honey produced by a few hives for profit particularly if a few buddies share harvesting tools like extractors and bottling tanks.
Most beekeepers like selling little amounts of honey to friends and neighbors while still in this hobby phase. As a result, they somewhat recover the costs of maintaining their hives, but it is no longer a total income.
In the past, most commercial beekeepers generated money by renting bees for pollination and selling honey. However, few beekeepers in today’s global market make a full-time income by selling honey produced in the US.
How to increase beekeeper income
There are techniques to raise your profit margins whether you are a commercial, side gig, or hobbyist beekeeper. In addition, every company has methods for reducing waste.
Some of the methods used to increase income as a beekeeper include:
- Maintain thriving colonies to benefit from the maximum output.
- Prevent colony loss; this entails managing parasites like varroa mites throughout the season.
- To save money, make a plan and buy things in large quantities. The apiarist can frequently save money by purchasing more beekeeping supplies like frames, foundations, or boxes.
- Increasing your product line’s profitability is the most straightforward approach. Consider options other than honey; you can pursue this at the hobbyist level. Selling goods like propolis, pollen, beeswax candles, or beeswax is a terrific way to make additional money. Selling nuc colonies to nearby beekeepers in the spring is beneficial if you have a larger apiary.
- Some people love raising local queens as a pastime. There are always beekeepers nearby who want queens, so queen rearing is a lot of effort and pleasure.
Find inventive ways to earn a living from your beekeeping rather than relying on honey production alone.
We don’t want to discourage you if you wish to pursue beekeeping as a source of income. But it could be wise to start working for a more established beekeeper. Even the most experienced apiaries lose colonies each year because beekeeping is difficult.
Not every hive will thrive; some will perish, while others will linger without achieving their full potential. Yet, with all of the pleasures and sorrows that come with farm life, this is farming in many respects.
Instead of maintaining bees, there are many more straightforward ways to make money. However, to be content with a full-time beekeeper income, you must be passionate about beekeeping. For those who choose to, it is a stimulating way of life filled with ongoing new opportunities and obstacles.