It seems like you don’t have to search very far or wide before you run into someone you know who has recently become a “backyard beekeeper” or has at least thought very seriously about becoming one. But the prospect of beekeeping can seem pretty daunting to many inexperienced beekeepers. So how do you know if beekeeping is a good idea for you? And can you realistically start a hive in your own backyard?
Are You Allergic To Bees?
It has been said that bee allergies tend to run “in the family” and the allergy may have some genetic components. This has never been confirmed to my knowledge but having bee allergies in your family may be a red flag as to your susceptibility to bee allergies yourself. Of course, if you’ve already been stung before, you probably have a pretty good idea of if you’re allergic or not
Also, if your close friends have bee allergies that may be a problem if you want to show them your hive at any point, or just because of the fact that you’ll probably have more bees than the average person near your home.
So, if you are allergic to bees, or have close friends or family that are, then beekeeping may be something you may want to avoid.
Do You Have The Time To Tend To Your Bees?
Generally speaking, tending to bees doesn’t take very long compared to other “pets” or hobbies. (Not that bees are really pets, but you get the idea.)
As a rule of thumb you’ll need about 30 minutes per hive per week. And then another 2 hours per hive per *year* to harvest your honey.
So that’s not a huge time investment, but you’ll still need to set aside a bit of time to tend to your bees.
Why Should You Even Keep Bees In The First Place?
Well, if you’re here on this site right now you probably have a few of your own ideas about why you’re thinking about keeping bees, but here’s a few just in case.
Bees produce honey! And often the honey you can produce with your own hives is far superior to anything you can get in a grocery store. You can instantly become a local celebrity with your friends and family (or even Farmers Market) when you start harvesting your own honey.
Bees also help pollinate your garden and/or crops like vegetables and flowers, etc. Many people who keep bees report higher yields in their own gardens.
Honeybees also create beeswax and other bee-type products that you may see in your local health stores. You can use your hives to create homeopathic products for your own use, or for reselling to others to make a bit of money on the side.
Also, honeybees are having a bit of trouble in terms of population decline around the world. Keeping bees yourself helps the general honeybee population and is a great thing for our environment.
How Much Money Are You Going To Need?
Well, it depends on how much gear you buy and what quality you purchase, and how many hives you want to keep.
As a rough estimate though:
- One hive setup (including bottom board, frames, etc): $200
- One package of bees (3 lb of bees and a queen): $75
- Clothing and tools (veil, gloves, smoker, 2 hive tools, bee brush): $125
- Medication and Feed: $35
- Extraction: $15
All said and done, that is about $435 a year if you don’t want to cut corners and you just want to buy everything retail. There are ways to minimize your cost. And obviously the price will go down per year after your first year. That’s just the upfront cost of starting. Once you have your hive and your gear, then all you need is more bees, feed, etc.
Starting up is probably your biggest investment, and every year afterward can go significantly down in cost.
If you’ve decided that beekeeping is something you’d like to do, click here for our free beekeeping quick start kit.