Starting a bee farming business : A commercial outlook

Business: Bee keeping, bee farming ,
Business type: Animal Husbandry and agriculture related
Most suitable for: amateur beekeepers, farmers, people living in tropical countryside.
Average working time : 15- 20 hours a week.

How to start a commercial beekeeping business? When I thought of adding honey bee farming business plan on my blog, I thought it would be the simplest business plan, but it turned out to be a very systematic business with a lot of processes and challenges. I still added this post in my blog for its commercial success rate and the fun it includes.

Let’s just jump into the topic, we all know that honey bees play a very crucial role in pollination of flowers and are responsible for millions of dollars of turnover in the fruits and vegetable production.

Honey bee farming is also a profitable business equally for honey production and bee’s wax. These three factors make starting a bee farming business a clever move for any countryside farmers. So, let’s talk about the commercial aspects of this business.

Cost of the business
Bee farming business in countries like India is much easier than in countries like Canada or Australia because India, Pakistan, Brazil, and other countries having tropical/warm kind of climate are more suitable for bees and thus the maintenance cost in such countries is normally lesser and returns are more profitable.

If you are thinking of starting a bee farming business with some 200 bee box setup, then the initial cost can be nearly 500000 rupees (approx 7500$), but 200 is a very large number. There are successful beekeepers with just 40 bee box setup in their farmlands with nearly 150000 rupees(2300$) net profit per year.

In India, 100000 rupees is a decent investment for a commercial bee keeper.
A box can produce nearly 50kg of honey every year. The current price of raw honey is 100-150 rupees in India. So, a person with 40 box setup can earn nearly 200000 rupees per year just from selling honey. Many honey bee keepers in countries like the US earn more for renting their boxes weekly to other farmlands than selling honey. This can be done in India too.

Most of the farmers growing sunflower, almonds, mango, or any other nectar flower-bearing plants become beekeepers to increase their yield and to gain some extra profit from selling honey and beeswax. Most people rent their boxes for money to other farmers in the flowering seasons.

Requirements to start honey bee farming business
– The first thing to worry about is a place where you can keep your bee boxes. The place must have adequate sunlight and a shelter during the rainy season. It should not be a problem for other people living around you.

– The most important things are the bees. You can either purchase a total “package” from the dealers, or buy established combs from other honey beekeepers, or you can buy a queen honey bee, some worker bees and brood(unhatched). The most common and convenient way is to buy packages.

– The next thing to worry about is the bee boxes with hives. A bee box bearing 10 hives can cost you 600 rupees or so. Other things are the frames, trays to use while uncapping the frames, the bee protection suit(if needed), food and water for your bees.

– Some countries have a registration process for commercial beekeepers, ask your local government officials for more information on legal procedures.

Now you are good to go. All you need is to get some training from an experienced beekeeper(if you yourself have never owned bees before) and regular learning is always recommended.

But, How do I make money?
There are mainly 3 ways of making money through honey bee farming. Let’s look into all the options in brief,

– The first option obviously is by selling the honey. Some of the beekeepers sell the honey with their own brand name directly to the customers, others just sell the raw honey to the established marketers for an allotted price. An average beekeeper with systematically arranged 40 boxes can earn nearly 200000 rupees as a net profit per year.

– The second way is to sell the wax (beeswax) that is formed in every honey bee hive. Your initial investment for frames( where bees build their comb) needs wax, after some time the bees themselves form some more beeswax. So, at the end, you are left with a lot of wax after extracting honey which you can sell for recycling. Bee’s wax has a very good commercial value because this kind of wax is used in making luxurious aromatic candles and fixing the not so nice wood pieces while making furniture.

– The third way is to put your bee boxes in other farms during the pollinating season. In order to increase the yield, farmers give money to beekeepers for setting up a bee hive on their farm. This is a ‘you win, I win’ concept where the farmer gets more yield from their crops and you get both money and honey.

So, with all the above option, you can actually take back your investment money in the first year itself, provided your bees don’t get any disease or your locality has enough flowers for the bees to produce the desired amount of honey.

Other than that honey bee farming can be a fun business because of the risk it contains. You never know when you are going to get stung by the bees. So, if you are planning to start a bee farming business, then get ready for both the bee and the honey. All the best.

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