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Chris Schultz

Newbie wanting to short cut research set up

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I'm in the planning stages of developing a commercial operation and starting with the development of a business plan. I'd be grateful for some advice and assistance so I don't flounder around on the internet and make mistakes that other people have made!

Can someone help with the following starting Qs:

 

What is a fair price per hive for set up of a super4, 50+ hives?

What is the best hive management software, barcoding, App and approx cost?

What is the cost per swarm and recommended supplier?

What is the best training course in Auckland and also Gisborne area?

Thanks and regards

Chris

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@Chris Schultz

Hi Chris...beyond my ken...and admittedly all the "What is...?" reminded me of Monty Python sketch...however...there's loads of info on the forum Search function and I'm sure lots of beeks will be dropping by shortly...(y)

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Best course in Gisborne would be the training one run by ex-NBA president Barry Foster. I gave a talk on viruses and pathogens and caught up with @Vincent Channon there - he could comment better on it

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I'm in the planning stages of developing a commercial operation and starting with the development of a business plan. I'd be grateful for some advice and assistance so I don't flounder around on the internet and make mistakes that other people have made!

Can someone help with the following starting Qs:

 

What is a fair price per hive for set up of a super4, 50+ hives?

What is the best hive management software, barcoding, App and approx cost?

What is the cost per swarm and recommended supplier?

What is the best training course in Auckland and also Gisborne area?

Thanks and regards

Chris

I think you would be better of telling us about yourself first. How many colonies have you looked after for how long? What is your experience level? What is your background? How much land do you have?...

The answers to your questions are relevant to your 'understanding' of bees, unless you are going to hire a full time beekeeper who is going to do the work for you.

Other than that, welcome to the forum.

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I think you would be better of telling us about yourself first. How many colonies have you looked after for how long? What is your experience level? What is your background? How much land do you have?...

The answers to your questions are relevant to your 'understanding' of bees, unless you are going to hire a full time beekeeper who is going to do the work for you.

Other than that, welcome to the forum.

I'm a complete Newbie! We are forming a new partnership and I'm the business brains, my brother doing his training at the moment. We have 3 blocks in Te Araroa, East Cape. We will be hiring a bee keeper to look after our hives for the first year until we are on top of it and we can go into it full-time ourselves.

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We will be hiring a bee keeper to look after our hives for the first year until we are on top of it and we can go into it full-time ourselves.

reality is your not going to be on top of it after one year. not even close.

 

the other issue is who do you hire. good experienced beeks are hard to get. you don't have the work for a full timer and to contract an established beek (difficult as most are busy with their own, but can be done) runs a big risk of hiring your opposition who could very easily take advantage of the situation.

have seen hive thieves being employed and then they wonder why all their hives are gone.

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My suggestion is that you look at your return on investment first. How much will you have to draw from the business to keep you and your employees in the manner to which they are accustomed? Once you know that we can work out the scale of the business you are starting. You will find some useful info on basic costs by looking in the Resources section, like here; New Zealand Apiculture 2014

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I'm a complete Newbie! We are forming a new partnership and I'm the business brains, my brother doing his training at the moment. We have 3 blocks in Te Araroa, East Cape. We will be hiring a bee keeper to look after our hives for the first year until we are on top of it and we can go into it full-time ourselves.

So 'why' beekeeping as business venture? Have you followed a commercial beek for a day in high season so you know you can hack it? Have you read this thread?

My attempt at becoming a commercial beekeeper: 18 months in

Have you looked through this forum to see how many different obstacles you will encounter?

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I think that the rumors of huge money in bees is spreading far and wide.

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But the ones about hard work, sticky messes, bees not reading same books as us, etc, are not... Welcome to the fascinating world of honey bees, where you never ever finish learning, and when you think you are on top of things, the bees decide otherwise. But it is all good fun :cool:

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Somebody on this forum once said...

If you want $1million out of beekeeping you gotta put $2million in. :rofl:

And I believe that to bee true! (y)

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The reality is that new entrants into the beekeeping industry, jumping straight to commercial scale, do not often succeed. You will find it incredibly hard to source a beekeeper with the necessary skills to manage your operation, as if they have the skills they are doing it for themselves. Those applicants you do have will likely not have the experience to run a commercial operation by their own. As others have suggested, one year of experience will not be enough for you to confidently take over the hive management form any employees. Financially, like any small business in NZ, start ups are expensive and should not expect immediate returns. My advice is to take it slowly, start with a few until you are confident that you want to continue with bees. Work with your local club, or a friendly commercial (hard to find) to gain some hands on experience. If you are really interested, one of the best ways to enter the industry with zero experience is to attend Telford's on campus apiculture qualification. I believe it is run in Northland.

 

Good luck with the east cape. It is a minefield.

 

Also, I'm sorry to sound so pessimistic, but the reality of commercial beekeeping is harder than many people expect.

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With respect to the contributors, (and @Adaire Nicholls's caution is absolutely right) I doubt the man needs another cynic. Lets assume he's a grown-up, keep control of our assumptions, and let him prepare a business plan. You never know we might all learn something. I have seen successful beekeeping businesses - to an extent it depends on what you think successful is!

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its not the businesses plan i worry about. wither he succeeds or fails business wise its not a big concern.

if it fails for whatever reason (life happens!) he can sell off the hives and gear (which would be worth a fair bit) and go do something else.

 

the issue is the beekeeping side.

failure beekeeping wise can cause issues for those down the road. after all your only as good as the beek down the road.

then when they sell off the hives and gear (which is now worth ###### all) and problems may follow that gear. it can be an expensive mess for everyone else to clean up.

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IMHO if you want to go commercial start with two hives... Run them in ya back yard for a few years then double your numbers every year (with good management I fell it could be done with ease) and work your way up mostly using income from the previous honey crop/pollination job... If I had done that I would be in about the same place as I am in today, having spent a lot less money.

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@Chris Schultz as per Dave suggestion above, read the annual apiculture report - it is an excellent source for the numbers you will need.

 

For the rest you simply have to learn hands on - and I can guarantee it'll be a good steep learning curve.

 

Make sure you buy body armour if you're going to take on the east cape :lol

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With respect to the contributors, (and @Adaire Nicholls's caution is absolutely right) I doubt the man needs another cynic. Lets assume he's a grown-up, keep control of our assumptions, and let him prepare a business plan. You never know we might all learn something. I have seen successful beekeeping businesses - to an extent it depends on what you think successful is!

Thanks for all your wisdom and advice and will keep our initially foray in perspective! Looking forward to the adventure!

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Welcome to the world if beekeeping, I hope you enjoy your time here.

 

I'm a hobbyist so don't have the commercial knowledge of others, but here is some advise from a newbee perspective.

 

Get the 'practical beekeeping in new Zealand' book.

Get into an AFB DECA course.

Get to know your local beekeepers club

 

Clubs have a swarm list that you can put your name on. You can also contact local pest control and councils to add your name to beekeepers contact list.

 

You can see prices of nucs on trademe, but you may be better off getting in touch with a breeder to find out costs if you are buying in bulk. Keeping in mind you would be lucky to get much at this time of year, but you could think about pre ordering nuc/queens for next season.

 

There are some companies that will look after your hives for you, not sure on what the costs would be compeared to hiring full time, but worth asking if there is anyone in your area. I think Happy Hives do this.

 

There is a directory on this site of suppliers/distributors and breeders.

 

Came across BeeCloud : Web application for beekeepers the other day, I haven't used it yet but haven't found any other good sites for managing hives.

 

Good luck with your new adventures.

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Welcome to the world if beekeeping, I hope you enjoy your time here.

 

I'm a hobbyist so don't have the commercial knowledge of others, but here is some advise from a newbee perspective.

 

Get the 'practical beekeeping in new Zealand' book.

Get into an AFB DECA course.

Get to know your local beekeepers club

 

Clubs have a swarm list that you can put your name on. You can also contact local pest control and councils to add your name to beekeepers contact list.

 

You can see prices of nucs on trademe, but you may be better off getting in touch with a breeder to find out costs if you are buying in bulk. Keeping in mind you would be lucky to get much at this time of year, but you could think about pre ordering nuc/queens for next season.

 

There are some companies that will look after your hives for you, not sure on what the costs would be compeared to hiring full time, but worth asking if there is anyone in your area. I think Happy Hives do this.

 

There is a directory on this site of suppliers/distributors and breeders.

 

Came across BeeCloud : Web application for beekeepers the other day, I haven't used it yet but haven't found any other good sites for managing hives.

 

Good luck with your new adventures.

Thanks - I really appreciate the advice!

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Hi Chris, welcome to the forum.

 

I'm a beginner beekeeper, however I have business experience and my mind generally turns towards business whenever I'm learning about something new. I've done quite a bit of the research into how the industry works commercially (I'm not planning on starting a company myself beyond hoping to pay for my hobby), however I have no commercial beekeeping experience so please keep that in mind when reading the below.

 

The first question you'll need to ask is how are you looking to create revenue with your bees? Presumably with blocks on the East Coast you are thinking about Manuka honey production? This may require you to miss out on the steady (but hard earned) money from pollination contracts. If you are looking to ensure steady revenue from pollination the below two documents should help.

 

Page 28 and 29 of the Fresh Facts 2014 shows you what crops are in what regions:

 

http://www.freshfacts.co.nz/file/fresh-facts-2014.pdf

 

The below document shows how to offer optimum pollination service for the major crops in New Zealand:

 

http://www.summerfruitnz.co.nz/users/Image/Files/documents/J002366_Pollination_Manual_final for web.pdf

 

I used to have a table showing when pollination contracts for different crops were usually available during the year but I can't find it.

 

You will also need to figure out when your Manuka flow usually is and build your pollination around it - or omit pollination altogether (most of the big manuka producers have long since done this). Once you have this figured all this out, you will need bush or pasture sites to give the bee some varied forage to recover from pollination and manuka, and then winter sites.

 

That is the structure your year will take. Your revenue will be pollination, honey crop, some pollen during pollination, and if you use propolis mats some propolis, also beeswax, possibly a few other bits and bobs.

 

Honey production, and manuka honey production in particular, is hard, I think you will be hard pressed to find some you can hire to build up hives to the required strength, manage the hives, and do this for a one season contract only. Anyone you can do it is working for themselves, or Comvita, Steens, Watson and Son, etc. and getting paid very well to do so, with potentially company vehicles and some of their own hives as perks.

 

As for equipment, Ecrotek offer discounts for buying in bulk:

 

Ecrotek Beekeeping Supplies

 

Simply figue out how many hives you want, how you want them set up and the discount that will apply, then total everything up. You can also buy supers, frames and other woodware directly from the manufacturers, a couple are below:

 

Bee Woodware

Alliance Beekeeping Woodware : Premium Hives and Beekeeping Supplies

 

As for bees, the prices on trade me will tell you the market price, I believe some breeders will offer discounts if brought in bulk, seems like $250+ for nucs, some hives have been brought for $875+. Reports are it will be more expensive next year. You can advertise on the wanted section of this site. There are companies that will build up a certain number of hives to order, an example below:

 

SJA | Honey. Bees. Hives.

 

I have no idea on software sorry, probably look at what Steens, Comvita, Airbourne or Watson and Son (any of the big companies really) are using and see if any are using cost effective non-proprietary software available to you.

 

That's all I can think of for now. Personally if I was going to do it, I'd start off small at home, learn if I liked it and build up from there, but I'm a city boy. Most guys take over from their fathers or start with two hives, however I have heard about some guys who have gotten into bees in a big way from day dot from allied industries, horticulture, etc. The learning curve is steep.

 

Please read up on how hard beekeeping can be, there are a lot of pests and diseases that can assail hives, and this is likely to get worse in the near future. Look into varroa and AFB especially.

 

I should also point out that it is hard, heavy work, with long hours. Pollination requires you to work weeks of 12+ hours through the night. In summer you can be working 14 hours a day 6+ days a week, of hard physical labour. A FD super full of honey weighs up to 40 KG+.

 

All the best though, if you're getting bees you'll have a lot of fun. :)

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Hi Chris, welcome to the forum.

 

I'm a beginner beekeeper, however I have business experience and my mind generally turns towards business whenever I'm learning about something new. I've done quite a bit of the research into how the industry works commercially (I'm not planning on starting a company myself beyond hoping to pay for my hobby), however I have no commercial beekeeping experience so please keep that in mind when reading the below.

 

The first question you'll need to ask is how are you looking to create revenue with your bees? Presumably with blocks on the East Coast you are thinking about Manuka honey production? This may require you to miss out on the steady (but hard earned) money from pollination contracts. If you are looking to ensure steady revenue from pollination the below two documents should help.

 

Page 28 and 29 of the Fresh Facts 2014 shows you what crops are in what regions:

 

http://www.freshfacts.co.nz/file/fresh-facts-2014.pdf

 

The below document shows how to offer optimum pollination service for the major crops in New Zealand:

 

http://www.summerfruitnz.co.nz/users/Image/Files/documents/J002366_Pollination_Manual_final for web.pdf

 

I used to have a table showing when pollination contracts for different crops were usually available during the year but I can't find it.

 

You will also need to figure out when your Manuka flow usually is and build your pollination around it - or omit pollination altogether (most of the big manuka producers have long since done this). Once you have this figured all this out, you will need bush or pasture sites to give the bee some varied forage to recover from pollination and manuka, and then winter sites.

 

That is the structure your year will take. Your revenue will be pollination, honey crop, some pollen during pollination, and if you use propolis mats some propolis, also beeswax, possibly a few other bits and bobs.

 

Honey production, and manuka honey production in particular, is hard, I think you will be hard pressed to find some you can hire to build up hives to the required strength, manage the hives, and do this for a one season contract only. Anyone you can do it is working for themselves, or Comvita, Steens, Watson and Son, etc. and getting paid very well to do so, with potentially company vehicles and some of their own hives as perks.

 

As for equipment, Ecrotek offer discounts for buying in bulk:

 

Ecrotek Beekeeping Supplies

 

Simply figue out how many hives you want, how you want them set up and the discount that will apply, then total everything up. You can also buy supers, frames and other woodware directly from the manufacturers, a couple are below:

 

Bee Woodware

Alliance Beekeeping Woodware : Premium Hives and Beekeeping Supplies

 

As for bees, the prices on trade me will tell you the market price, I believe some breeders will offer discounts if brought in bulk, seems like $250+ for nucs, some hives have been brought for $875+. Reports are it will be more expensive next year. You can advertise on the wanted section of this site. There are companies that will build up a certain number of hives to order, an example below:

 

SJA | Honey. Bees. Hives.

 

I have no idea on software sorry, probably look at what Steens, Comvita, Airbourne or Watson and Son (any of the big companies really) are using and see if any are using cost effective non-proprietary software available to you.

 

That's all I can think of for now. Personally if I was going to do it, I'd start off small at home, learn if I liked it and build up from there, but I'm a city boy. Most guys take over from their fathers or start with two hives, however I have heard about some guys who have gotten into bees in a big way from day dot from allied industries, horticulture, etc. The learning curve is steep.

 

Please read up on how hard beekeeping can be, there are a lot of pests and diseases that can assail hives, and this is likely to get worse in the near future. Look into varroa and AFB especially.

 

I should also point out that it is hard, heavy work, with long hours. Pollination requires you to work weeks of 12+ hours through the night. In summer you can be working 14 hours a day 6+ days a week, of hard physical labour. A FD super full of honey weighs up to 40 KG+.

 

All the best though, if you're getting bees you'll have a lot of fun. :)

Thanks Jezza - good advice and thanks for the links! Will definitely scale back and opt to caution!

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Thanks Jezza - good advice and thanks for the links! Will definitely scale back and opt to caution!

 

I'm not saying to necessarily do that. I'm pretty risk adverse.

 

Figure out the risk profile (number of hives) you are comfortable with, do your research and decide if you want to have a go. Please note that as the Ecrotek prices show there are definitely economies of scale in Beekeeping.

 

If you have Mankua blocks in the East Cape, you can certainly get guys to put hives on them. The top amount at the moment seems to be $10+ p/hive plus 30% of the crop, reports of even more. For no risk. You could probably get them to show you the ropes as a condition of access.

 

I know which option I'd take as an investment! Lol.

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If you have Mankua blocks in the East Cape, you can certainly get guys to put hives on them. The top amount at the moment seems to be $10+ p/hive plus 30% of the crop, reports of even more. For no risk.

there is certainly still risk.

eg not getting paid, damage to buildings and land, beekeeping used as a front to gain access for other activities.

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Too true.

 

For less risk.

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Maybe to many people getting into beekeeping for the reasons. It's all about money now not the bees

 

Wrong reasons

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