Beekeeping from scratch: how to open your apiary in 2020

Beekeeping from scratch: how to open your apiary

What is needed today to start a beekeeping business, and in what ways to sell honey in 2020? In details and figures – about what to pay attention to a novice beekeeper, so as not to burn out at the start.

What kind of business should be opened for a resident of a metropolis, who works at the office from Monday to Friday, but at the same time wants to spend the weekend with health benefits, in the fresh air and with benefits for his wallet? The talk in our today’s article will be about beekeeping – for many, this area of activity began with an interesting hobby, and grew into a promising and successful business.

“An apiary pays off in one season – it’s a little more than six months,” my interlocutor shares his experience. His business grew several years ago with an unusual hobby on weekends, now the number of hives owned by the entrepreneur is measured in several hundred, and beekeeping is his main area of activity.

We are in the Rostov region, a few tens of kilometers north of the Don capital. The apiary is now in the winter, but in the spring the beekeeper plans to take his breadwinners for honey collection in the fields. And I still have the opportunity not only to taste delicious honey, but also to learn about the intricacies of beekeeping “in the first person.”

Buying bees – what you need to know

The best time to buy an apiary is the beginning of the honey harvest season in early spring after a bee overhaul and an apiary revision. You can buy bees in the royals, bee packages, in the hives, or you can immediately buy a turnkey ready-made apiary with all the necessary equipment.

The latter option is preferable if you are just starting the first steps in beekeeping – “wholesale” will be cheaper than buying all the necessary equipment separately. Usually, an apiary is sold for health reasons, due to age, or in connection with moving to another region for permanent residence.

In 2020, the average cost of a hive with bees is about 7-8 thousand rubles. For this price, you can directly purchase a bee package and a wooden (less often plastic) house for bees.

The number of bees in the family depends on the time of the year – in the season of “winter hibernation” the average number of individuals in the hive is about 20 thousand, and in the summer during the peak period of honey collection in the hive, about 80 thousand insects can be observed.

Hives themselves are of various types – which ones are best to buy depends on whether you plan to take the bees to new places of roaming during the summer period, or whether they will be in the summer cottage all season. The vertical hives of the Dadanov design are now the most popular, but heavy and inconvenient to move “sunbeds”, which are also poorly ventilated in the heat, are gradually becoming a thing of the past.

In the south of Russia, Caucasian bees are popular – they do not like frosts and are rather capricious in relation to diseases, but they give a good bribe. If you are counting on a good income from honey, you should also pay attention to the Carpathian breed – it is quite peaceful and collects a lot of honey even from plants with a low sugar content.

If you plan to practice bees only on weekends, it is not recommended to start more than 30 hives. Starting with the fourth dozen beehives, you have to think about helpers – one can’t redo the entire amount of work for the weekend. Thus, the cost of buying a small apiary will be about two hundred with a small thousand rubles.

Procurement of related equipment

The greatest income for the season will be able to generate an apiary, which will change the location during the year. Therefore, be prepared to resolve the issue of transportation to the places of the greatest bribe – thanks to this, you can earn more.

As a rule, beekeepers working on the principle of a nomad apiary acquire a specialized trailer (carriage) for a business that allows them to transport bee hives without overload. The cost of the trailer is an average of 200,000 rubles.

Also, for transportation of the apiary, you need a tractor that can tow a buzzing business without any problems to the distance necessary to change the location – it can range from ten to several hundred kilometers. Military trucks like ZIL-130 with an additional kung on the platform, purchased from the preservation of state structures, are very popular among beekeepers. Such transport will allow in addition to towing trailers to solve another problem – the beekeeper’s housing for the period of wandering. Some representatives of agribusiness equip quite comfortable housing like campers on the basis of tractors. The cost of the truck in good condition with a suitable metal compartment on the platform is about 250,000 rubles.

These are the most significant costs that a novice entrepreneur will incur when buying a nomad apiary. However, to successfully service the needs of bees, you will also need a large tool and inventory:

  • Special protective clothing to protect yourself from bites. As a rule, this is a headpiece with a tulle or wire mesh, durable gloves for the hands and an airtight suit;
  • Dymar is a cylindrical device with furs in which smoke is generated by firing to fumigate bees. In insects, smoke causes an instinctive desire to fly away, which is what the beekeepers use to extract frames and clean the hives.
  • Apiary chisel ;
  • Scraper for wax and propolis ;
  • Honey separator – a cylindrical barrel for pumping honey.

Retrofitting an apiary with the necessary equipment will cost about 20-30 thousand rubles.

Apiary location

A lot depends on the choice of the location of the apiary. Of great importance is the proximity of the arrays of honey plants. It is not recommended to place an apiary near large bodies of water, especially if plantations of honey plants are located on the other side of a river or lake.

For the winter, it is worth having an apiary next to the roadway, next to busy roads and streets. In the case of placing a carriage with hives within the boundaries of the village, it is worth fencing off the apiary with a high fence about 2 meters high. Bees will immediately gain height and will not disturb neighbors and passers-by.

As a rule, during the removal of apiaries for wandering, beekeepers unite and collectively export bees for the period of flowering of honey plants. This allows you to keep an eye on the bees in shifts.

Beekeeping Sales and Marketing

The problem of the sale of finished products remains very relevant for beekeepers in 2020. After collecting honey, an entrepreneur faces a choice – to sell honey at retail at higher prices for a relatively long period of time or to hand over the products to intermediaries immediately. In the second option, the profit will be significantly lower.

Typically, some of the honey and its derivatives is sold to “dealers” immediately, and the rest is sold throughout the year through shops, outlets, and simply through acquaintances and friends. In the case of the honey business, word of mouth works very well – satisfied customers always willingly recommend natural and tasty products in their circle of friends.

Online store. We mentioned above the most traditional sales channels, but time does not stand still – and therefore we strongly recommend launching your online store selling apiary products. The cost of developing the site will be quite small – it will take about 10,000 rubles to pay the developer of the online market (it will be cheaper to find freelancers at specialized labor exchanges). Another 15 thousand rubles will need to be spent on setting up and launching an advertising campaign in Yandex. Direct. As a result, you can get a stable and profitable online project. Judge for yourself – with targeted traffic of even 20 people per day and a conversion of 25, you can get 5 customers who bought your products. Thus, the project will pay off in less than a month.

Renting a retail outlet on the market will be more costly – on average, speaking of a million-plus city, the monthly payment will be about 20,000 rubles. If you hire a seller – plus another 25,000 rubles of wages. Thus, for the trade pavilion to break even, it will be necessary to sell about 150 kilograms of honey every month at a price of 300 rubles per kg.

Selling honey through social networks . Another alternative sales channel is through social networks, especially through Instagram. The best advertisement for your products will be photos from the apiary and satisfied customer reviews. Given that the target audience in SMM differs from market visitors, we recommend that you “pack” the goods in a quality manner. Moreover, it is not only about beautiful packaging of products, but also in its competent presentation and positioning, high-quality photographs. For example, gift sets that are stylishly decorated for the holidays (liquid honey, honeycombs, bee bread) are now enjoying success on the Web. Some go further and offer large corporate clients sweet sets with their company logos – for gifts to employees and business partners.

Sale of other beekeeping products. Do not forget that not only honey itself, but also other beekeeping products – bee bread, propolis, royal jelly, have great health benefits. The latter, due to its natural properties, is especially popular in the field of cosmetology and medicine – here is another idea of potential business customers.

If you see that the channel you have chosen to promote beekeeping products is effective, you can start selling honey not only from your apiary, but also act as an intermediary for other beekeepers.

Fairs of Honey. In beekeeping and sales of honey, honey fairs, which take place for a limited period of time in different cities, have also established themselves well. As a rule, the organizers of such events act as resellers (resellers) of products or give beekeepers the opportunity to rent a place to trade at the fair themselves. We will talk about the features of this area below – the fact is that a significant share of the costs of organizing honey fairs can be compensated … from the state budget.

Financial performance

We suggest that you familiarize yourself with the upcoming costs when opening an apiary.

Investments. So, the size of the initial investment in the apiary will be 700,000 rubles. This amount will include the purchase of beehives with bees, a carriage, freight vehicles for transporting a nomad apiary, as well as the necessary equipment and tools.

Performance and revenue. During the season, one beehive with bees is able to bring bribes in the amount of 35-40 kg, respectively, an apiary of 30 “bee houses” is able to generate bribes of about 120 kg. With an average cost of honey of 300 rubles, apiary revenue for the season will be 360,000 rubles.

Payback. The apiary payback period is one season, that is, a little more than six months. However, the size of the initial investment is indicated more, but do not forget that we also considered a truck with a trailer trailer. If you take into account the cost of technology, the payback period will increase to two seasons.

In this case, it is necessary to take into account the swarm of bees and the ability to create layering, which eventually turn into independent families. Received bee packages can be sold, or grow your apiary. This is another beekeeper income item.

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