If you’re fond of bees and you have enough space to care for them, did you know that you can make money beekeeping from home?
Yes, hundreds of people do it on the side and earn cash from their passions. Of course, depending on the scale of your home-based beekeeping business, you can even turn this into your main source of income.
So how do you begin?
What paperwork do you need to start a beekeeping business from home?
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How much land is required for beekeeping?
How much does it cost to start a beekeeping business?
Is beekeeping a profitable business?
I’m going to try to answer all these questions, so you could see if beekeeping is a viable business option for you.
How to Earn Money from Beekeeping
Before we talk about the nitty-gritty of beekeeping for honey and other byproducts, let’s first talk about other not-so-popular ways of making money with a beekeeping business.
Commercial Pollination Services
The population of bees are dwindling down. Everybody knows this.
But industries that rely on bees for cross-pollination, such as the almond industry, feel the effects more significantly. They’re the ones who have to import bees from other states during blooming season in order to obtain enough production for the year.
Unfortunately, the demand for pollinator services are high, since bees continue to decrease in population each year. The good news for beekeepers is that this demand can be an opportunity for extra money.
Sell Pollinator Seeds
Selling pollinator seeds and seedlings do not require transferring bees to another location, but just the “food” that attract bees to a particular garden.
This is preferred by other people or companies so they don’t need to maintain beehives, but still benefit from pollination.
Sell Beekeeping Equipment
Beekeeping equipment are available in the market, but as you’re going to discover, customizing features of equipment is likely to happen.
For example, bee hives may work better with custom-made feeders, screens, escapes, and so on.
Having the knowledge to create custom workarounds on ready-made equipment is a skill in itself and many beekeepers are cashing in from this demand.
There are also other money making opportunities in the beekeeping industry, such as consultation services.
Maintaining beehives is hard enough, but doing it for profit makes it 10x harder. Other people would gladly pay you to guide them every step of the way of starting a beekeeping business from scratch.
Home-Based Beekeeping Business Requirements
What we’re going to be talking about in this article is beekeeping for honey and other honey byproducts (such as beeswax, bee pollen and propolis).
Like any kind of businesses, you need to comply with a couple of requirements before you can make money beekeeping. These include:
Aside from getting a business permit from your city or state, there are other specific beekeeping-related paperwork you’d have to complete.
Your house where you will be beekeeping must be licensed and inspected annually.
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Note that this is important because not everyone is allowed to take care of bees. Check if your home is zoned for beekeeping, and if your home owner’s association allows beekeeping or not.
If permits are gathered, you may also have to register bees (some states do not need this though).
Beekeeping inspection, license and rules vary between states, so it is best to check your state’s department of agriculture.
If you’re starting the business from scratch, you’ll need money to buy equipment and starter bees, attend workshops, get insurance and settle government paperwork that require fees.
Those who began beekeeping as a hobby may also need funding for expansion, unless of course the beehives you currently have are enough to sustain the number of honey jars, amount of beeswax for cosmetics, or generally the size of company you want.
As a beekeeper, you’ll be considered a farmer and you’d likely receive special tax considerations. Check the IRS Farmer’s Tax Guide to get an idea.
In the U.S., setting up a single hive is about $600 to $1000, depending on the type of boxes, tools, equipment and beekeeping wear you buy.
For a more realistic look of all the equipment (and its corresponding cost), take a look at this list.
Space for Bees
If you’re interested in beekeeping mainly because you can technically run this business from home, it isn’t as simple as that.
The space available within your land should have enough food for bees without being a nuisance to your neighbors or livestock.
You’ll need a vehicle for delivery if you plan to produce a lot of honey products.
You’ll also have to pay for hives, fume boards, feeders, division boards, and protective gear (like hat with veil, gloves, overalls, and so on), among others.
Beekeepers aim to produce safe products, whether they focus on honey or its byproducts.
But being 100% careful and following rules doesn’t guarantee that your products will be safe 100% of the time. Having insurance in place prevents you (the person) from being liable if products from your beekeeping business become entangled in safety concerns or lawsuits.
Aside from these requirements, you’d also need to be constantly aware of new laws, use of treatments, techniques in swarm collection, raising queen bees, or preventing diseases. You’d have to attend workshops regularly and be up-to-date with beekeeping news.
In addition, packaging (bottles, labels, and other materials), as well as labeling and marketing will also add expenses to your tab.
How to Make Money Beekeeping
Don’t expect the “beekeeping profit per hive” to have a general answer, since the land in which you put up your business and the amount of hives you manage will affect how much money you can make beekeeping.
Here are some realities you should understand about this business:
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- Passive income means hard work first before money. It is probably going to take at least two years to break even. Beekeeping will earn you a passive income, but you’d have to do the groundwork for the first year or two before you begin getting the revenues you have in mind.
- Honey and beeswax do not top the highest-earning product in beekeeping. In fact, renting out hives (for about $100 to $200 per hive) to other people make the best revenues. This is especially true if you have 200 or more hives under your care.
- Most beekeepers take advantage of all income streams. They sell honey and beeswax, then provide pollination services and even conduct workshops. Other beekeepers innovate and create new products, such as honey wine, honey jellies, and even bread. A jar of honey is around $5 a pop, while beeswax soap or candles can earn you about $2 to $25 a pop.
Commercial beekeeping (those with over 100 hives) can be very lucrative, if you’re open to exploring all kinds of money-making opportunities with beekeeping.
A single bee hive is supposed to earn you about $100 to $250 per year.
Taxes, labor, equipment cost, bad weather, diseases and other considerations can make this amount higher or lower.
Pricing your honey and other products do not depend on prices of honey on grocery aisles. Instead, you’d have to price your products based on the value of honey across beekeepers in your area.
The Bee-ttom Line
The future of beekeeping is alive and well, as it should be, since the bee crisis isn’t close to being solved yet.
Bees are also being wiped out by colony collapse disorder all around the world, so not only will you be able to help replenish our earth-saving bees, you can also earn passive income with beekeeping.
Those ready to start but don’t know where to begin should find a local beekeeping association. Having mentors who would guide you through this journey not only prevents losing money from trial-and-error, but also provide awesome networking opportunities.
If there are no beekeepers near you, you can visit Bees for Development for more ways to make money beekeeping.
If full commercial beekeeping is not your call, but you’d love a business centered on animals, check out my guide on how to start a dog day care business from home, or this cool list of money-making opportunities with animals.