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Rob Stockley

Basic cost of running a hive commercially

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2 hours ago, Rob Stockley said:

No, trying to evaluate one of those backyard beehive rental schemes.

 

The biggest negative is the inefficiency of all those ones and twos scattered about the place.

 

In a good year you'd make a bit of coin. In a bad year carry a significant loss. Meanwhile the scheme owner makes a good return on a modest investment without any exposure to the variability of beekeeping. 

 

On the figures I can't see why anyone would do it. 

 

Maybe also:

- Diversity of income,

- Learning about new locations with a view to considering putting other sites in the area,

- Larger than normal honey crop due to low hive numbers.  

- Getting rid of extra hives

- Wanting to talk to someone other than the dog.

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18 minutes ago, Shaun said:

Community service is the main reason I do it.

I charge $350 pre year (which is about what I miss out on for commercial pollination)

They get 12 jars of honey (about 8kg) and I keep the rest, in a good year that can be quite a bit

 

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oh .... I must be doing somethng wrong as I do it for nothing.   And er, we gonna start skiting about a tallest hive competition?

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Just now, jamesc said:

oh .... I must be doing somethng wrong as I do it for nothing.   And er, we gonna start skiting about a tallest hive competition?

 

I reckon @shaun is about as tall as that hive stack.

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I Think commercially we base costs around $340-$360 per colony that's labour and all associated costs.

fuel, sugar, replacement gear & queens fees, etc. and that's running hi ab trucks and all hives are quad set up (quick to shift & bulletproof with cattle.) so no solar fences. 

Large commercial. 

I would add that honey income and farmer share also go together. 

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1 hour ago, tristan said:

theres no way you could make money off the honey crop off them, hence you have to charge people.

Really no room then for an intermediate clipping the ticket. 

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Rob is this an activity you might consider branching out into? From what I have read you'd be well placed to do so.

I think the returns are very modest, it is no get rich quick scheme. But it might be better than the complete loss your bk may currently amount to.. :)

Try to avoid anyone more than 20km from your home!!

I don't see it as a big earner for ticket clippers in the longer run, so it will be interesting to see how that goes, but you can't fault the guy for trying it on.

There is a level of cost in terms of servicing customers including communication, invoices and some beekeepers want to avoid that, so it may provide a ticket clipping opportunity for someone who is organised. I'd say anyone who is organised enough to consider rental hives would be already organised enough to maintain their own customers.

I strongly agree with the sentiment above that lots of hives purchased become deadouts, but people who rent hives can more easily learn, get interested and eventually buy the hive a year or three later and become very competent hobby beekeepers. Some people do not want to be beekeepers also they're more than happy to pay someone to mow their lawn, clean the pool and paint their roof: nothing wrong with that.

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2 hours ago, Shaun said:

Community service is the main reason I do it.

I charge $350 pre year (which is about what I miss out on for commercial pollination)

They get 12 jars of honey (about 8kg) and I keep the rest, in a good year that can be quite a bit

 

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Are they all full ?

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I think hive rental is just fine when there is honesty and transparency.

 

But when a business is based on lies I have a huge problem with it.

 

The general public is terribly uneducated when it comes to bees, and it's partly because some of the people doing the educating are inventing facts so they can profit off people who don't know any better.

 

On one hand I am happy there are people renting hives, because one would hope they were at least being managed well and responsibly.

On the other hand, there are people who would have never even considered getting a beehive renting one because they have been sold a fabricated sob story that bee populations are in decline.

 

The fact is there are more managed colonies of bees in NZ then ever, that number is growing daily.

And actually we have a finite source of floral resources and by increasing the amount of colonies the only thing we will succeed in doing is declining their food sources and therefore their health.

 

Good on the people who are renting hives and truly educating people about bees.

I don't have anything nice to say about the others.

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We are getting so many phone calls about hive rental companies in our area leaving dead hives had one lady ring us the other week they paid for two hives and one was dead the other never had a bee in it took me a while to work out what was going on but she was not a happy camper no honey and no bees. Another one hive hive was dead and tossed over the paddock and nothing was done about it. It takes a lot of time to deal with hives in a town driving round talking to the home owner ect. We don't rent hives but I'll help them get started if that's what they want or put a hive there if it's close to our sites 

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My mums neighbour in an urban area got a hive in her front yard.

It was pretty vigorous and close to path to the front door.

I thought it would not be there for long. It was there for 3 months .

They knew nothing about the reality of keeping bees .

I think it was a rental.

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yes we are still running a " hire a hive" just around the Blenheim area, we don't charge a lot to people wanting a hive, it is more of a service, they get a little honey though out the year and a bit of pollination, but i think the biggest plus is they talk to there friends about having a bee hive and how wonder full it is to go out and watch there hive, as well as doing there bit to save the bees,

the down side to hive rental is the cost of running around for servicing only one to two hives in one spot

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I've had a number of friends in the suburbs who have asked me to put a hive or two on their property and I've done so for friendship. And these hives undoubtedly make a big honey crop.

 

But if I was wanting to make a profit I think it would have to be minimum $800 per year per site. I have a beekeeper friend who wanted to start hive rentals and I told her charge $800, she said heck no, far too much, she would charge $400.

 

Caught up with her after a while she said it was a nightmare. People wanted to be there to watch so she couldn't do a mileage efficient run she had to be at certain places at certain times. people would ring and say they think there is "something strange" with the bees today, could she come immediately. The hives would all want to swarm at the same time and she would get more callouts than she could get to at once and have angry clients. 

 

Look at it this way. If you want an average income at $800 a site, you probably need 200 sites, for a gross of $160,000 per annum. The profit on this would likely be 1/2, or $80,000 per annum. However is it possible to run 200 sites? Seems like a heckuva mission to me. At $400 a site, don't even think about it. 

 

Could be a sideline for a hobbyist running a small number of sites close to home, but to make a living, yes I agree with what else has been said, it's not a ticket to become a millionaire.

Edited by Alastair
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10 hours ago, ChrisM said:

Rob is this an activity you might consider branching out into?

Nah not me. I've had bees on friend's properties and given away a heap honey. Everyone happy. I like it that way. 

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I'll weigh in on this, since I'm two years or so into running a rental business (part time).

 

The inefficiencies of having one or two hives in each location is the biggest issue - you can spend a lot of time travelling around not actually beekeeping, and of course you're paying $14ish in registration a year for every site you've got, instead of splitting it between many hives. The more hives you have in a given area, the more efficient you can become.

 

In reality a rental fee of $400-$500 is just covering costs, and maybe allowing a bit of expansion in terms of buying new gear. Any profits you make would be from selling honey and nucs. I would be very wary of taking on working for another company who is taking a cut - especially if it's a big cut. If they took a small cut, and guaranteed a lot of rentals, maybe - but of course, getting the numbers up takes a lot of time and good marketing.

 

I've got one customer who has a dog and a locked gate, and so I have to work their visits around when they're home. It's a PITA, and I won't be having any more like that. I've got a couple who want to be there as often as possible - they get a call when I'm on my way, if they can't make it they miss out. For very quick visits where I'm just throwing gear on etc they don't get a call.

 

Swarm control is a very big issue when you're dealing with urban hives. They always happen on the weekend (because people are home to see them), usually when you're in the middle of doing something or about to sit down to lunch. I haven't had too much of a problem with getting called out for other things - probably down to education, or at least getting enough details to diagnose by phone.

 

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11 hours ago, kaihoka said:

Are they all full ?

I doubt that bees could cure all those boxes

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4 hours ago, Philbee said:

I doubt that bees could cure all those boxes

That’s only 6 FD equivalent high. You know you end up with that many when the flow is really going for it and the bees aren’t capping it. That happened about 5 years ago when he had a real summer.

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16 hours ago, kaihoka said:

Are they all full ?

Top 3 are partials (not full frames) the first 6 are wall to wall full, got over 100kg from this one 3 seasons ago and less than 20kg last season.

On the topic of swarm control for a rental. I always split them early and take brood away almost every visit at this time of the year. My goal is to not have a garden rental hive swarm for any reason. 

I pick an easy to get to, but discreet spot for the hive and the client gets told in advance that I just turn up when it works with my schedule. I give them a small "facts sheet" which doubles as my contract to sign when I make the initial inspection. I have a spare jacket in the ute for the occasional "watch over my shoulder". Mostly they quickly just get used to the bees and settle in to watching them come and go.

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1 hour ago, dansar said:

That’s only 6 FD equivalent high. You know you end up with that many when the flow is really going for it and the bees aren’t capping it. That happened about 5 years ago when he had a real summer.

The risk is that the mites build up faster than the bees can cap it.

 

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My 2 cents on why some people enter the hive rental scheme, from the customer side and from the beekeeper (me) side.

The Customer wants what @kevin moore has explained, and very well so. I would add that in the same way we (as in the general population) prefer to eat our own produce (use of pesticides in commercial crops, don't trust what we are being sold, prefer to have a more realistic view on how hard it is to produce that jar of honey we don't want to buy as it is $25 at the shops for maybe less than 1/2 a kilo, or simply because we want our children to know where food comes from, and how we all need each other in the grand plan of the universe). A lot of people have always wanted to get into bees, but they are responsible and don't want to make mistakes, or can't find the time of doing it themselves, or have had a bad experience in the past so want to give it another go with someone holding their hand. 

From my side (the Top Bar Hive beekeeper): I get a kick when my customer is home and ready to jump in a suit to admire and work the bees together. Coming from a teaching background, I love the interaction with kids and people who are ready and willing to learn, and enjoy their faces of awe. Our Top Bar hive operation means that we harvest a comb and they get to process it at home, so they KNOW that THAT honey has come from their hive and their hive only, and what was used to treat their bees, or what they have foraged on (mostly their and their neighbour's gardens). You can see the progress on their gardening for bees, there is always more plants, more flowers, as well as water sources, etc.

Sometimes, there is no honey crop, and we discuss why and what can we do to improve that, we explain, they listen, and have the option to opt out. Sometimes we have a robbing event, and they get to experience it, we deal as best we can, but we always keep them informed on everything. I think they are all very happy with our way of doing things.

My visits are never 15 minutes, or maybe if no-one is home and is a super quick check in winter, but quite unlikely. I allow about 45 minutes per visit. If the weather is being predictable, I let them know the day before or a couple of days. If it's been raining non stop and there is a patch of sunshine, I email them before leaving the house. That's about it. You got to love it to do it, and I wouldn't do it if I didn't love it.

And I am always thinking of ways to make it more efficient and kinder on the planet (hate the plastic varroa strips that can't be recycled!!)

I don't even know what clipping tickets is referred to.

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I like your comment about the varroa strips that can't be recycled. We have wool fadges of them stacked away because i refuse to burn them or put them in the landfill. I sent some samples to the Ag recovery program six months ago and got no reply. I approached Stuart at Ecrotek and he told me to put them i the rubbish bin. OMG.

PLEASE .... we need a coordinated approach to finding a home for this "rubbish" ..... 1,000,000 bee hives X 6 strip PA = 6,000,000 pieces of plastic ..... make them into shopping bags for the Four Square ?:IMG_0380:

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53 minutes ago, Sil29er said:

I don't even know what clipping tickets is referred to.

Clipping the ticket in this case is a site finder taking a percentage of the monthly rental in return for making the site available to the beekeeper. A bad deal of you're trying to run a business. 

 

I've always had the impression that you and Chris were into bees for the love of bees and that other occupations put bread on the table. That's where this whole discussion breaks down.

 

Some beekeepers consider that enjoyment and sharing is payment enough. I question the ethics of any business that would try to profit off that generosity. Not you guys or the direct hive rental businesses, the clipping the ticket one. 

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a lot of our hive visits we time to make when people are not home, mainly for the fact it takes to long and they all want to talk,

the swarming is a biggey with in town hives and hives at schools people seem to get very upset when they see a swarm coming at them,, and so yes i agree as some one said on here the best control is to take a couple of frames each visit, this is also where you catch up on a little money making,

we dont hand out buckets of honey, they get a pot every 2nd visit, used to give out bucket fulls but alot of people didnt know what to do with alot of honey once it cystallized,

we don't deal with any ticket clippers  

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12 hours ago, Rob Stockley said:

Some beekeepers consider that enjoyment and sharing is payment enough. I question the ethics of any business that would try to profit off that generosity. Not you guys or the direct hive rental businesses, the clipping the ticket one. 

 

 

We asked around to put hives in people's places, but maybe because we wanted to play with Top Bars, or because it sounded too good to be true, we didn't have many takers.

We also manage hives for people who don't have the time and experience, and we mentor a lot. We organise courses, as well as give talks at garden centres, community gardens and schools  (talks are always free). Hopefully it puts us in the "Good Guys" basket.

As an anecdote, one of our families have 4 children, and they all love it when I visit the hive and they are home. On one of my first visits after the hive was installed, all the kids were home, ages from 3 to 10. The older kids were very keen and asking very smart questions, and getting in quite close, so I gave them our spare suits to get even closer. The 3 year old didn't want to be left behind, so when her 7 yo brother asked if he could pick up and hold a bee, I said "yes, that one you can, because it's a drone, a boy bee, and he doesn't have a stinger". They very quickly learnt to recognise "the boy bees" and all was good.

The following time i visited, all kids were at school, and I find a pink dolly cot and a spoon under the hive: Pearl, the 3 year old, had been playing with "the boys", feeding them sugary water with a spoon and putting them to sleep in the cot :17_heart_eyes::4_joy:

Her mum calls her the "bee wrangler", hehehe!!!

 

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16 hours ago, Rob Stockley said:

Clipping the ticket in this case is a site finder taking a percentage of the monthly rental in return for making the site available to the beekeeper.

Do these people actually exist ?

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4 minutes ago, yesbut said:

Do these people actually exist ?

Yes, there are a number of them. Most the the 'nationwide' rental schemes are based on finding other beekeepers who will work under contract essentially. Some will take a minimal percentage, and give good support and marketing, others want a lot more, and give very little. I'd suggest a franchise type system might be a better option if it was done right...

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