OA Dosage

General Discussion of Diary Posts and Questions on Beekeeping Matters
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Countryboy
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Re: OA Dosage

Unread post by Countryboy » November 3rd, 2016, 8:48 am

For myself, I don't think I ever got to the profitable/sustainable part until I got about 25 hives.

I think I paid about $400 for a 3 frame hand crank extractor. I was bottling honey with a 5 gallon bucket with a plastic honey gate. It's really hard to do enough volume to make any money.

By the time I was at 20 or 25 hives, I could justify the cost of a $1,000 motorized extractor, a $1,000 bottling tank, etc. By that time, I also started having enough drawn comb to do something. (Don't plan on making much honey if all your supers are foundation. You need drawn comb.) In my area, you may get a 1,500-2,000 pound honey crop with 25 hives. I had enough honey to supply a store, and I started seeing monthly checks rolling in. I tried to buy used equipment when possible, rather than buying new equipment. 25 hives or so is about when I learned to graft also. Prior to that, I had done walkaway splits and caught swarms for increase. I started selling honey at shows about that time, which helps so you get retail price. (I didn't start doing farmers markets until a few years ago. I still have mixed opinions about farmers markets.) I'm not saying that I was getting rich, but the bees were paying for themselves at that point.

I've sold the occasional nuc or queen, but have never put much effort into selling those yet. I mainly use queens for my own use, and use overwintered nucs to replace deadouts and for increase.

I had 25 hives or so when I gave up the treatment free ideology, and began treating my hives for mites too. Had I started treating before then, I may have been able to be profitable sooner. I would have gotten to 25 hives a lot faster too, so 25 hives may still have been the breakover point for profitability.

This is what has worked for me in Ohio. I have no experience with keeping bees in Canada.
B. Farmer Honey
Central Ohio

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Jiminycric
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Re: OA Dosage

Unread post by Jiminycric » November 3rd, 2016, 3:47 pm

Nice, I had a 2 frame hand extractor given to me from my step-grandfather, which is more than enough for me at the moment. But since I have only started this year with one hive, things have been slow (probably a good thing). I think the challenge for me will be finding a outlet for honey (plan to mainly do wholesale rather than farmers market as I am an introvert). I'm also trying to build up drawn honey supers so the bees have a little less work.

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Strathmore, Alberta

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Countryboy
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Re: OA Dosage

Unread post by Countryboy » November 3rd, 2016, 6:27 pm

I've heard beekeepers say that you don't start making money until you stop expanding. (For me, even though I was still expanding, I wasn't re-investing every dollar once I hit 20 or 25 hives.) Expansion can suck down lots of money in a hurry.

You will quickly outgrow a 2 frame extractor, unless you are a glutton for punishment. (I know a beekeeping family who started out extracting honey with a 4 frame hand crank extractor in their living room. After they did 10,000 pounds in one season, the mom made the dad make a regular honey house out in the barn. Of course, they had about 10 kids to help with cranking.)
I'm also trying to build up drawn honey supers so the bees have a little less work.
I'll tell you a really big secret, that's not much of a secret. Buy drawn comb from another beekeeper. From my experience, a lack of drawn comb is one of the biggest factors which slow expansion and limit production. When I was expanding, I ran across some used shallow honey supers with drawn comb a retiring beekeeper was selling. I think I got about 250 of them for $6 or $8 each. It was money well spent.
B. Farmer Honey
Central Ohio

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BDT123
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Re: OA Dosage

Unread post by BDT123 » December 8th, 2016, 11:03 pm

I'm following a Randy Oliver process of using natural and chemical controls in an interval basis. I think he has a good point. Don't allow Varroa to become resistant to one treatment. The 'magic bullets' have a defined life, don't wear them out!
We are in a years or decades long war with Varroa, let's not blow it all now. We need VHS queens, Varroa resistant bees, the whole arsenal.
Alberta queen breeders, we need your help. Please, announce your presence!

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