The global beekeeping business has been buzzing with activity during the pandemic, and this includes small beekeepers with just a few hives at the most.
When run properly, an apiary can become a prosperous business that yields a good income. There are, however, many unknowns, potential hazards, and expenses.
One of the biggest fallacies is that this is a ‘set and forget’ business. It is true that small apiaries are not highly labor intensive but set-and-forget they are not. You’ve got to be willing to do what needs to be done, and this can vary depending on the season, the climate, and where the bees are in their cycle.
This unrelated 5:46-minute video by GrowOrganic Peaceful Valley is about the Basics of Beekeeping:
Whether bees are your new career, a side hustle, or a gardening hobby, be prepared to invest yourself and your money. In other words, you don’t just set up the hives and come back six months later for your share of the honey.
There is no question bees and honey can be a sweet business success. There are many ways a bee business can develop. Minimal input will probably return a minimal output. The most successful beekeepers that profit nicely expand their hives over time, maybe sell honey, beeswax, royal jelly, pollen, propolis, and bee venom. Some apiarists raise and sell queens, and others buy and sell beekeeping supplies like hives, bees, beekeeping suits and smokers. Others may also get into the bee pollination rental business, and ship off their bees to the almond fields and other big pollination jobs.
It all depends on your goals, and what you want to build your apiary into. If you are a laidback bee lover aspiring to having a hive or two in your back garden, these are not considerations you need to consider but you will still need to engage with your bees to make sure they are healthy and have what they need.
Beekeeping took off for many people during the pandemic who were bored, wanted fresh air, wanted something to do from home, or a way to earn income. Plenty of people took up beekeeping, and some got into using honey and beeswax to create cottage industries around homemade candles, creams, salves, lotions, and other skin products.
This unrelated 2:23-minute video by Inside the Hive TV looks at Mike Palmer's Sustainable Apiary:
For those who want to go commercial and explore lucrative avenues, pollination is big now. It has always been a huge industry, but there have been beehive shortages in the last couple of years. Orchards and other commercial agricultural companies need bees provided by beekeepers to pollinate their crops so they can stay in business.
Beekeeping can be relaxing for hobby beekeepers. Owning a few hives is like having pets, but there is work to be done. People don’t realize until they get involved, then they either dive deep or give up. If you’re interested in beekeeping do some research so you know what is involved in time and money. If it still looks good, consider doing a basic workshop so you know how to get started. Go to a farmer’s market or a local beekeeping association to seek out experts.
Talking with local beekeepers may get you an invitation to visit an apiary and be shown what must be done. Starting from scratch can be a bit expensive, so make sure you really want to do it before putting in your money.
Once you commit to honey bees, you must take care of their needs. You may also be surprised at how you bond with them in ways you didn't expect. It happens to just about every beekeeper.