How To Make Money With Beekeeping
As the concern for bee populations rises, so does the popularity of beekeeping. While many beekeepers pick up the hobby out of passion and interest rather than income, it can still offer a lucrative revenue. For anyone wanting to learn how to make money with beekeeping, we provide some ways to turn your hobby into a profitable business.
How Much Do Beekeepers Make?
According to the ERI Economic Research Institute, the average beekeeper salary in the United States is $49,528 a year. This salary is projected to increase to $55,221 in 2027. The same source puts the salary range for a beekeeper between $36,101 and $59,186.
These figures give you an idea of how much most beekeepers make. It’s something to keep in mind should you pursue employment in beekeeping, make it a career, or hire beekeepers for your business. Actual beekeeper salary depends on skills, experience, education, location, and other factors.
Starting a Business with Honey Bees
A profitable beekeeping business likely begins with an enjoyable hobby. Like any business, it requires the necessary insurance, equipment, permits or licenses, and knowledge and experience—something you’ve gained from raising bees, although this time with the intent to generate beekeeping profit. More importantly, check your apiary and beekeeping laws.
Your existing beekeeping equipment may be enough to manage, maintain, and care for your beehives. For reference, here’s a checklist of beekeeping tools and supplies to run this kind of business efficiently:
- Bee smoker
- Feeds and medication
- Personal protective gear
- A wax processing machine
- Honey extractor and supplies to bottle and sell honey
- Hive kits or hive boxes and components (frames, inner cover, queen excluder, spacer shim, internal feeder, etc.)
If you need help funding your beekeeping business and its operations, the United States Department of Agriculture has loan programs for eligible local beekeepers.
One is a microloan program, which you can use for essential tools, bees, bee equipment, or a downpayment on a farm. It has two types, direct farm ownership microloans and direct farm operating microloans. Either has a maximum loan amount of $50,000. The loan program is for beekeepers and other beginning farmers.
The agency also offers grants through the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP). The Value-Added Producer Grant is a program targeting beginning farmers or ranchers. You can check Grants.gov for available grants and details.
Bee disease control and management are necessary expenses in beekeeping. The USDA has a free bee disease diagnosis service, where adult bee samples are examined for bacterial and other diseases.
When you think of beekeeping, you probably think of honey. Selling honey is by far what most beekeepers do; it’s the most common way to earn money as a beekeeper. One joy of beekeeping is having your honey supply at home, and selling the surplus honey for additional income is a sweet deal.
Once you have a healthy and thriving beehive, the production cost of packaging and distributing honey is relatively low. With more and more people shopping for natural and local foods, there’s a great demand for locally-made honey.
According to this bees profile, there are three types of production and their corresponding number of colonies:
- Hobbyist—25 colonies or less
- Part-time—25 to 300 colonies
- Commercial—more than 300 colonies
You can scale up your honey production to include food stores and grocery stores that can buy your local honey in larger quantities, thus increasing your beekeeping profit. Be sure you know the laws and regulations on the sale of honey in your locale and online.
How to Sell Honey for a Profit
Here are additional tips to make money out of honey:
- Ensure the quality of your honey. Follow the best practices in honey harvesting and handling and storage, floral sources, and other factors.
- Showcase your honey in the best way possible. Use correct labels (is it local, pure, raw, or organic?) and attractive bottles or containers that your target market will appreciate. You can buy these supplies in bulk too.
- Price your honey accordingly. National honey reports like this show how much beekeepers receive for extracted, unprocessed honey. Look into how local beekeepers price their products.
- Market and promote your honey online and offline. Test and ask people for their honest feedback.
- Put a honey-for-sale sign in your house. Sell in local farmers’ markets and online marketplaces.
In addition to honey sales, try making food products with your honey, like dips, chips, desserts, and cookies.
Selling bees to new beekeepers or beginning farmers is another way of making money. But before conducting any sale transaction, confirm whether you need to secure a permit to sell and transport bees.
Honey bees for sale typically include the following:
- Queen bees
- Package bees
- Nucs, or nucleus colony
Nuc vs. Package Bees
Which is better to start a colony with?
- A nuc has an egg-laying and established queen, brood, and other bees. A small colony by itself, it has food and honey stores in the frames included. With everything in place and functioning, the nuc can set you to a good start with beekeeping.
- A package of bees contains a caged queen and worker bees. It does not come with a comb, so you’ll have to feed the bees. Nonetheless, the package bees are more affordable and easier to obtain than the nuc.
Online is a convenient platform for selling bees, setting up a pre-order for pickup (for nucs, especially) and shipping.
Other Bee Products
Honey isn’t the only product you can sell when making money with beekeeping.
- Beeswax. Many beekeepers collect beeswax from their hives to make candles, soaps, lip balms, furniture polish, lubricants, and other goods. Beeswax is indeed an all-rounder, a must-have item in every home.
- Pollen. You can also collect pollen from your bees. While you won’t get as much pollen as you will with honey, you can sell it at a higher price due to its popularity as a dietary supplement. Bee pollen is known to be healthy, owing to its minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.
- Propolis. Another option is to gather and sell propolis, the sticky substance bees produce to maintain and disinfect their hive. Propolis is also in high demand because people use it to help treat sores or boost the immune system. The substance figures in skincare products, with purported anti-aging and acne-fighting properties.
Experienced beekeepers might make money through services as well as products. Some farmers pay beekeepers to temporarily relocate their hives near their crops to pollinate them and help them grow.
Other beekeepers might offer swarm removal services to capture and relocate bee swarms. You can also earn money by raising and selling starter hives or replacement bees for other beekeepers. Sometimes, you can sell your used beekeeping equipment and offer your expertise through consulting and advisory services.
Bees play an important role in agriculture and food production. As someone raising bees, you can offer pollination services.
The most common way is to rent hives to farmers. Almond growers are among the most noted users of the service, as almonds need bees (and bees need almonds). Commercial honey bees from all over the United States are brought in for the almond pollination season in California.
You’ll need to move and transport the bees to the designated location at night. The rent may be per hive or package of bees. The profit per hive can be huge, with rates upward to hundreds of dollars.
Bee Removal Services
Your experience in handling bees can be useful to property owners with unwanted swarms on their property. It happens that bees or other types make a home out of walls or trees, and you need to remove and relocate them somewhere safe.
Rates for a bee removal service vary, as you’ll have to assess the extent of the infestation first. Whether you’ll need equipment to access the bees or the hive adds to the cost. Additional considerations include the location and the number of beekeepers or removal specialists available in the area.
Notwithstanding that this is a paid service, some beekeepers in local beekeeping groups offer the service for a minimal fee or no charge at all.
Is Beekeeping Profitable? Making Money from Raising Bees
Beekeeping is not a get-rich-quick scheme, but money can be made from products and services involving honey and bees.
Take a look at these ideas to increase your profit per hive:
- Plant for your bees, and create a clean and bee-friendly environment.
- Keep your bees healthy, free of diseases, and happy.
- Update your knowledge and skills as a beekeeper.
- Offer more products or services.
- Find ways to save on the costs of beekeeping without compromising the quality of your offerings.
Has the buzz gotten to you? If you’re ready to make beekeeping your new side hustle, set yourself up for success with our bee starter kit. You can make beekeeping a rewarding business with enough effort, patience, and passion.