Keeping Bees as a Business
By Eric Hammer
For most people, bees are things to be avoided they
are annoying, their stings can be quite painful and at times
deadly and most people have a healthy fear of the creatures.
However, for those who have decided that keeping bees is not
only something they would like to do but something they would
like to do for a living, bees are one of natures most remarkable
creatures and one they cannot imagine living without.
People keep bees in all kinds of settings, from small urban
bee farms (there is even a New York City bee keeping community)
to major honey producing bee farms in rural areas. The key with
this business is to understand bee culture and of course to be
well versed in the laws governing bee keeping in your neighborhood.
While very few cities and towns outlaw bee keeping outright for
example, many do have laws which can make bee farming difficult
for you because your neighbors may complain that your bees are
a public nuisance.
Keeping your bees in a place with a relatively high wall however
will largely mitigate the problem since bees tend to fly in a
straight line and will thus fly high enough to go over the wall
and hopefully not bother the neighbors. You also of course need
to keep track of your bees so that when they swarm (they do this
when they look for a new home) you have a new hive ready for
them to move in to.
How Much Can You Make?
Most bee keepers do this job because they love it, not because
they actually expect to earn a good living from the business.
Most people who do this for a living own their own businesses
and the money they make varies, though its never a very
good living. If you run your own farm professionally, expect
to earn no more than around $40K-$50K per year in gross profits.
If you get a job as a beekeeper with someone else, the salaries
are typically in the low $20K range.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
Those with larger farms may be able to earn more money by
offering educational tours for children, allowing them to see
the honey making process in person. You can also of course make
money selling honey related products such as serving dishes for
the honey and honey based baked goods.
Keep in mind that your bees will be your responsibility. That
means making sure they have a source of water available, that
they are kept away from neighbors who may think of them as an
annoyance and that they are cared for regularly (i.e. you may
need to seed new queens each year in order to make sure that
your bees dont swarm on their own).
If you are attracted to the idea of bee farming but cannot
do it in your neighborhood for whatever reason, you may be able
to purchase rights to a cooperative farm in a nearby village
or town. This way you can still farm your bees without the problem
of ordinances and or neighbors who complain about them.
Qualifications / Requirements
Formal degrees are not required in order to become a bee farmer
in most parts of the country. However, you will need some training
in how to safely handle the bee farms and you will need to check
carefully what the local ordinances say regarding keeping bees.
Start by doing some research on bee keeping. Check if there
is a local bee keeping club or cooperative you can join in your
area. This will allow you to "get your feet wet" without
making the full commitment that would be involved in keeping
- New York City bee Keeper Association.
- Free beekeeper kit.
- Information and a forum.
- Videos on keeping bees.