This is a guest post by Michele B. Decoteau, a writer at our sister site, Insteading.
Beekeeping is a hobby that you can easily turn into a side-business no matter where you live. Keeping bees requires a relatively small monetary investment to get started and can turn a profit within a few short years. There are many non-monetary benefits to keeping bees like better garden yields, fresh honey, and a feeling of self-sufficiency. Believe it or not, beekeeping is very relaxing. It requires a focus on the immediate surroundings and a letting go of everything else.
Getting Started with Beekeeping
Beekeepers school is a great way to learn to keep bees. Keeping bees has changed drastically in the last decade. Most local beekeeping organizations will offer a beekeepers school as do many beekeeping supply companies. This is an excellent way to connect with other beekeepers and find out the exact laws and rules for keeping bees in your area.
Even if you live in an urban area, most cities allow bees to be kept on your property. Check with your local health department or contact your county or city bee inspector. Every state has a bee inspector and they are an excellent resource.
Low Start-up Costs
- Many companies offer a starter kit for beekeepers that include the hive, tools, and protective gear and they can cost between $250 and $500 depending on materials and size. The kits include only one hive (that is the boxes and frames). Most experienced beekeepers recommend starting with two hives, so consider making a second hive or purchasing two hives.
- Usually the bees are sold separately and a package of bees that includes a queen and about three pounds of bees will cost around $75 – $100. Check with your supplier, not everyone can get bees through the US Postal Service, so you may have to arrange to pick them up.
Products to Sell
- Honey is the first product from the hive that comes to mind. The rich golden liquid is prized by many as the most flavorful and healthiest of sweeteners. In a good year and strong hive can produce about 100 lbs excess honey. With sugar prices rising, honey is certain to become a more important sweetener.
- Beeswax has long been prized as a candle wax, but it is also used in cosmetics including lip balm, hand cream, and soap. Wax product can be an excellent source of income.
- Pollen provides another hive product that is often over looked. Pollen is used by many consumers for allergies and has other health benefits.
- Propolis, a sticky substance bees produce and use like caulking, has many health benefits including antiviral and anti-fungal properties.
All images copyright Michele B. Decoteau