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jamesc

The final Reckoning

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On 2/06/2018 at 8:29 AM, Alastair said:

I don't buy into the $400 per hive

 

I do.  400 is real/conservative for medium to larger operators.  I mean, there are some businesses with 500 hives with 2 or more employees.  Yip, great money was had. 

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Someone (or more people) give a breakdown of costs associated with a business. 

 

Base it it on a 400 hive business

 

Here is a list to start

 

varroa treatments 

sugar

pollen sub

vehicle running costs (fuel, rego, WOF, COF, tyres etc)

wages

insurances

site fees if any

extraction costs

packaging costs

testing honey costs

levies

Training

Replacement equipment - hiveware, tools, PPE

Building maintenance

replacement queens if buying

extras?

 

 

 

 

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34 minutes ago, Lindaloo26 said:

 

I do.  400 is real/conservative for medium to larger operators.  I mean, there are some businesses with 500 hives with 2 or more employees.  Yip, great money was had. 

 

In my younger days when I was working for others, I wish I could have been one of those employees. A boss, and 2 employees, to run 500 hives? Must be one big party. :D

 

If this kind of thing is considered the norm by new entrant commercial beekeepers, if they are not on manuka, I can certainly see troubled times ahead.

Edited by Alastair
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22 minutes ago, Alastair said:

 

 

If this kind of thing is considered the norm by new entrant commercial beekeepers, if they are not on manuka, I can certainly see troubled times ahead.

 

This is the norm and yes I see troubled times never mind ahead 

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I thought the norm was around 400 per labour unit? Are there operators actually running 500 with 3 humans?

1 week on.. 3 weeks off..? 

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I could live with that :D

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What BSB said on the previous page made sense also, he's got high per hive labour costs, but they are doing a lot of other stuff as well.

 

But if someone has 3 guys running 500 hives and it's just a straight honey operation, they have some hard schooling coming their way.

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52 minutes ago, dansar said:

Someone (or more people) give a breakdown of costs associated with a business.

 

bit endless really.  Horses for courses.  

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Who really cares though right? 

With a plan like that if they fold and blow away on the next storm so be it. 

I think it can be just as bad the other way... 

pushing too many with too few labour units... poor keeping, possible pest disease issues , low yields and tail chasing all due to not being everywhere at the same time. 

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In one of the beekeeper magazines that came out a few years after varroa arrived there was a discussion about this, and the costs of varroa. At that time they were saying that the 1,000 hives per man that was the norm pre varroa was no longer the case, varroa had caused an increase of workload and the industry norm was now 700 per man.

 

When I worked for a northland beekeeper many years back there was 2 guys running 2,700 hives. However there was also some casual help making frames etc, but not doing bee work.

Edited by Alastair

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2 minutes ago, Alastair said:

But if someone has 3 guys running 500 hives and it's just a straight honey operation, they have some hard schooling coming their way.

 

Yes, they do.  1 boss and 2 running around.  But if you got 1k a hive then no worries.  The worker to hive ratio, well depends.  I do 600 hives.  The ute goes out whether there is one or two on board and that is all down time.  Granted,  2 can do more when on task ( ha, ha, try doing it with 3!)  But never twice as much.  

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Alastair said:

1,000 hives per man that was the norm pre varroa was no longer the case, varroa had caused an increase of workload and the industry norm was now 700 per man.

1000 Geez, ###### that. Best we could do was 800 odd pre varroa (though we do pollination).  

Yes, varroa is more work.  Though I can't see why substantially more- often the treatment works in with what you usually doing.  Depends if you get creative with non commercial methods- which do require more visits. Or if you have issues- requiring another treatment round.  Suppose higher varroa caused hive mortality = more work.  

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I've heard hive numbers halved per bk after varroa.

 

I think the numbers are wholly dependent on how intensively you manage your hives eg do you feed pollen patties, do you stimulate with syrup - how often? swarm checks how often - just tilt the top box or pull brood frames etc etc   The other big one is 50 sites @ 10 hives per site or 10 sites of 70 hives? So as you go into the flow eg 700 OK hives or 400/500 really strong hives on good spots.

 

Edited by CraBee
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6 minutes ago, Lindaloo26 said:

 

Yes, they do.  1 boss and 2 running around.  But if you got 1k a hive then no worries.  The worker to hive ratio, well depends.  I do 600 hives.  The ute goes out whether there is one or two on board and that is all down time.  Granted,  2 can do more when on task ( ha, ha, try doing it with 3!)  But never twice as much.  

 

 

Ok so maybe the boss has time to do things that add a bit more value eg build a brand, develop new sales channels, negotiate better supply agreements, set-up a basic packing plant, find better sites, get a Queen rearing operation running properly.....I'm not so sure this is all black and white.  

 

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13 minutes ago, Lindaloo26 said:

 

Yes, they do.  1 boss and 2 running around.  But if you got 1k a hive then no worries.  The worker to hive ratio, well depends.  I do 600 hives.  The ute goes out whether there is one or two on board and that is all down time.  Granted,  2 can do more when on task ( ha, ha, try doing it with 3!)  But never twice as much.  

 

 

 

How many guys in a truck is an efficiency thing. The cost of running the truck, vs the wasted time ratio.

 

It goes like this. - Let's say a guy can work 100 hives a day, and it involves 1 hour travel. If one guy goes out in a truck, 100 hives get wroked, and there is one man hour wasted sitting in the truck. But if 2 guys go out in the truck, and work 100 hives each, they have to travel to twice as many sites, 2 hours travel. But that's for 2 guys, so it's 4 man hours wasted sitting in the truck. 3 guys, and it's compounded even more. So the more guys, the more travelling time wasted per hive worked.

 

But that has to be balanced against vehicle running costs. Running 3 guys to a site is the same vehicle cost as running one guy to a site.

 

So there is a ratio, that will be different in various situations and is something to consider and factor in.

 

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10 minutes ago, Lindaloo26 said:

  Though I can't see why substantially more- often the treatment works in with what you usually doing.  Depends if you get creative with non commercial methods- which do require more visits. Or if you have issues- requiring another treatment round.  Suppose higher varroa caused hive mortality = more work.  

 

Yes, I think it's because there is more work to varroa than just putting strips in. Pre varroa hives were healthier generally, queens lived longer, hives going queenless mid winter was extremely rare, queens going drone layer almost never happened, etc...

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19 minutes ago, CraBee said:

Ok so maybe the boss has time to do things that add a bit more value eg build a brand, develop new sales channels, negotiate better supply agreements, set-up a basic packing plant, find better sites, get a Queen rearing operation running properly.....I'm not so sure this is all black and white.  

 

The Boss should be working on his business ..... not in it. We had a Romanian on for a few years who threw his tools out of the toybox one day. He did'nt think it was fair that I sat on the Verandah all day drinking coffee ! We parted company shortly after that, but I still sit on the Verandah drinking coffee, once in a while.

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If we were doing honey only I would be working on 400-500 hives per permanent labour unit (myself included as one) but I have been in the game for 15ish years and was trained by commercials in the first place so know the tricks for efficiency.  If I couldn't make it work with staff at that level it would just be me and my 500 hives. The advantage of how I work is that with the exception of 2 sites all of our hives are within 20 minutes drive of the homeyard so we loss very little time on driving and therefore the labour costs are for productive work. I also have staff who it suits to have 3ish months off over winter or on decreased hours so the cost during unproductive times is also decreased. Guys who have hives scattered all round the countryside, run big trucks and 3 man teams are going to be hurting bad over the next few years unless they have everything well structured methinks.

 

41 minutes ago, Stoney said:

Who really cares though right? 

With a plan like that if they fold and blow away on the next storm so be it. 

I think it can be just as bad the other way... 

pushing too many with too few labour units... poor keeping, possible pest disease issues , low yields and tail chasing all due to not being everywhere at the same time. 

 

Anyone with hives in the area should care. If beekeepers can't cover their costs and leave their hives unworked over winter or worse still give up on them altogether the robbing will start and we all know where we end up with unworked hives and robbing. Businesses falling over is one thing but AFB spread something altogether more scary.

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8 minutes ago, jamesc said:

The Boss should be working on his business ..... not in it. We had a Romanian on for a few years who threw his tools out of the toybox one day. He did'nt think it was fair that I sat on the Verandah all day drinking coffee ! We parted company shortly after that, but I still sit on the Verandah drinking coffee, once in a while.

 

As long as you have skilled people in your business and sufficient oversight and scale this is true. If you run smaller and don't then you have to be hands on or you will come a cropper in my opinion. Plenty of beekeeping operations being run by people without the knowledge, we will see how that goes for them as things get tight.

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11 minutes ago, BSB said:

The advantage of how I work is that with the exception of 2 sites all of our hives are within 20 minutes drive

 

Oh, man.  That would be nice.  

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Nice but no good if I wanted to make any money in honey as they are marginal volume and low value honey sites.

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Here is How I do it

I have about 110 Square kms of exclusive country with unlimited access to as many sites as I can create within that space.
This costs me less than the cost of one Labor unit per year which is still a lot of money.
I have developed smart ways of increasing my productivity, one of which is as simple as a small investment in a highly effective Trailer Crane and more recently beating Varroa in a cost effective manor relative to turnover.
My Hive numbers next summer will reach 700 production hives that by virtue of their location and relative isolation have been and will probably continue to be AFB free.
That gives them real value.
In theory I could sell my hives on the condition that a AFB spore count would return a zero result.
As I explained to another Beek recently who asked if I was in fact using a synthetic in the background, my total Synthetic treatment costs for my whole Beekeeping history is about five hundred Dollars worth of Apistan from Ceracel.
So in conclusion, its not what you do that counts but rather how you do it.


 

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17 minutes ago, Philbee said:

As I explained to another Beek recently who asked if I was in fact using a synthetic in the background, my total Synthetic treatment costs for my whole Beekeeping history is about five hundred Dollars worth of Apistan from Ceracel.

 

Gotta give you some kudos for that Phil, nice work! :)

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2 hours ago, BSB said:

If we were doing honey only I would be working on 400-500 hives per permanent labour unit (myself included as one) but I have been in the game for 15ish years and was trained by commercials in the first place so know the tricks for efficiency.  If I couldn't make it work with staff at that level it would just be me and my 500 hives. The advantage of how I work is that with the exception of 2 sites all of our hives are within 20 minutes drive of the homeyard so we loss very little time on driving and therefore the labour costs are for productive work. I also have staff who it suits to have 3ish months off over winter or on decreased hours so the cost during unproductive times is also decreased. Guys who have hives scattered all round the countryside, run big trucks and 3 man teams are going to be hurting bad over the next few years unless they have everything well structured methinks.

 

 

Anyone with hives in the area should care. If beekeepers can't cover their costs and leave their hives unworked over winter or worse still give up on them altogether the robbing will start and we all know where we end up with unworked hives and robbing. Businesses falling over is one thing but AFB spread something altogether more scary.

I agree totally but am talking solely about business model not the possibility they may abandon. I can't do a thing about my neighbours operations except regularly check my hives and hope maybe this year they will retire. 

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On 2/06/2018 at 8:29 AM, Alastair said:

I expect after your North Island adventures, you are now a smarter man than that.

I thought that responsibilty for the NI debacle rested with Phil, not our hard-workin' bee-battler Hemi C

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