the economics of hobby beekeeping

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Remember the book “The $64 tomato”? Well, I did some calculating to figure out how much a jar of honey was costing me to produce. The bottom line – it’s an expensive bottle of honey. I figure a pound of honey costs me $27.63 to produce. A little better than that expensive tomato, but still a pretty costly jar of honey. Now, I’m a second year bee keeper, so I had a lot of set up costs and they won’t be recurring. My set up cost $918. Recurring costs are…
 

winterizing my beehives

 
 
I’d like to do the best I can to keep my bees alive this winter so I’ve been reading and asking at my local bee club. As they say, ask two beekeepers the same question and you’ll get three answers. On top of that, bees have a mind of their own and you can treat two hives the same way and they’ll still be totally different. So, here’s what I’ve done for my hives. – I modified my mouse guard so the bees can get in and out better. I…
 

another farmers market

 
 
I sold honey again at our local farmers market. This time I sold all 2 dozen lbs I brought with me and took orders for about 30 more. Now I’ve sold all of the honey I hoped to sell – about 60 lbs, half of what I had. The trick was bringing Suzie! She is a great sales dog! She got lots of attention at our little table. I also brought a basket full of gourds to sell. I sold a few at 50 cents each, but not many. I…
 

 
 
Here’s a picture of me just after I set up my table at the Farmer’s Market. I ended up selling 15 jars. Pretty good I suppose for a very small Farmer’s Market.
 

honey for sale

 
 
I’ll be selling my honey tomorrow at the Lincoln MA farmers market. Come by and try some if you’re in the area. It’s in the morning, 9:30 am to 1:30 pm. It will be the first time I’ve sold my honey. I wonder how it will go. I’ve produced over 100 lbs since I started keeping bees two years ago.
 

hive boxes flipped

 
 
In addition to freeing my stuck queen, I also flipped the boxes on my older hive today. I did a full inspection of the hive. There are several frames of brood and capped brood and obviously more bees than last time. They are only using the top box and going in and out of the top hole. So, I reversed the top and bottom boxes. Probably no real need to have done this. I just thought they should be using the bottom board for entry and exit. Switching boxes gave…
 

queen stuck in cage

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I checked on my newly installed bees this morning. The queen was still in the cage!! There was no sign that the bees were eating the candy plug at all! I can’t believe it. I was so pleased that I installed the package right this time and now the bees didn’t do their part! Unfortunately, it’s been 4 days since I installed them. (I had a busy week.) I hope the queen is OK still. I let her out. She looked fine. Small. I think what happened is that the…
 

crazy weather – lost hives

 
 
This crazy weather has had bad consequences on many things, including bees. It’s halfway into April and our weather is still chilly – rainy, dark and cold. What an odd year. After our incredibly warm February, I thought spring was here early. But now March and April have been wintry. Our early flowers were hit by frost and are now brown mush. A friend of mine lost two hives recently and she said others have had the same problem. Their bees broke their clusters in February and didn’t reform when…
 

new package installed

 
 
To prepare my new hive, I set up a deep box with four new frames (the ones with wood edges) in the middle and six drawn frames (the ones with black plastic edges). The two adjacent to the new frames were extracted, the other four were full of honey. I’m glad to be able to feed the new bees honey. (It’s from my hive that died in the middle of the winter.) I think they’ll like this better than sugar water. They were very nice bees. I dumped them all…
 

pollen in my honey – questions

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I used a metal honey strainer the last two times I prepared honey. I found that the honey ends up less clear, more particulates in it. I think the particulates are pollen. Is this a good reason for using a metal strainer? Pollen in the honey is good! The other explanation for my pollinated honey is that the honey I prepared with a cloth strainer last fall was from a honey super, while honey I prepared recently was from frames at the edges of brood boxes. Do bees add as…
 
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