Historic note
 Title Page
 Back Cover

Group Title: Circular - Florida Cooperative Extension Service ;, 722.
Title: A study in profitability for a mid-sized beekeeping operation
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00072586/00001
 Material Information
Title: A study in profitability for a mid-sized beekeeping operation
Series Title: Circular Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Physical Description: 35 4 p. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Sanford, Malcolm T ( Malcolm Thomas ), 1942-
Publisher: Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville
Publication Date: 1986
Subject: Bee culture -- Economic aspects   ( lcsh )
Bee culture   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Bibliography: p. 34.
Statement of Responsibility: Malcolm T. Sanford.
General Note: "Aug. 1986."
General Note: Cover title.
Funding: Circular (Florida Cooperative Extension Service) ;
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00072586
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 16654725

Table of Contents
    Historic note
        Historic note
    Title Page
        Title page
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
    Back Cover
        Page 40
Full Text


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.

Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida

August 1986

A Study in Profitability for a Mid-Sized
Beekeeping Operation

Dr. Malcolm T. Sanford

Central Science
JUL 22 1i987
University of Florida

Florida Cooperative Extension Service / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences / University of Florida / John T. Woeste, Dean

-llU ---l ~

U I l
U ---- I Il
Su---- llal

Circular 722




Dr. Malcolm T. Sanford

Extension Beekeeping Specialist

University of Florida

Costs of producing agricultural products have increased much faster

than selling price. Apiculture suffers as much, if not more, than other

agricultural enterprises because the price of honey has not kept up with

production costs. Even though the 1970s saw a dramatic rise in world honey

prices from which producers profited, over the long run this created

competition by foreign producers. Far lower labor costs, the search for

sources of hard currency, and strength of the U.S. dollar have contributed

to large imports of honey into the U.S. during the 1980s. Only the

existence of Commodity Credit Corporation loans on honey, resulting in a

price support of about 20 percent above world market price, has kept many

beekeepers solvent.

Historically, it has been unprofitable to produce honey in the United

States, according to most published studies on the subject. Adams and Todd

(1933) figured it cost $.07 to produce one pound of extracted honey for

which the beekeeper received $.045. Rodenberg (1967) declared that, over a

10-year period, the cost of the most important items used by beekeepers

increased 18 percent, while the price of honey decreased 7 percent. Coke

(1966) analyzed 15 commercial honey-producing firms in Florida and found a

net loss of $.0261 per pound of honey. A detailed study of southwestern

and midwestern beekeepers (Owens et al., 1973) concluded:

Beekeeping for honey production in the United States is not

profitable. The unit price received by beekeepers for bulk, extracted

honey has not changed in the last twenty-five years, while the cost of

production has increased. Thus, beekeepers, who rely on honey produc-

tion for income must supplement their income from other sources, such

as crop pollination and outside employment.

The purpose of this publication is to help the beekeeper better

analyze his or her operation to see if it indeed is profitable. Profit-

ability is defined here in terms of income versus outgo; it is recognized

that many beekeepers are not interested in monetary gain, but prefer to

keep bees on an amateur basis. This is in no way to be discouraged;

however, the present study may be of interest even to those beekeepers who

eschew the profit motive in keeping bees. Specific objectives of the

financial model presented here are:

1. Determine the costs and returns associated with beekeeping.

2. Aid beekeepers with budgeting and planning.

3. Recommend ways to reduce costs and increase returns.

4. Suggest how operation size affects costs and returns.

Beekeeping can be a profitable agricultural enterprise. It is also

recognized that, in order to be profitable, the beekeeping operation must

be analyzed carefully and the beekeeper ready to diversify activities based

on economic imperatives. This publication examines investment, operating

expenses, cash flow and other indices to reflect effects of decision-making

at several different levels within a beekeeping operation.

No study is any better than the data or numbers that go into it; this

means that the key to making reasonable decisions is adequate record

keeping. This simple fact cannot be overemphasized. Without good records

of individual colonies and beeyards, there is no way production can be

analyzed. The same is true of financial records. If this publication does

nothing more than help the beekeeper produce better financial records, it

will have served its purpose admirably.

As previously suggested, the beekeeping industry is currently in a

state of flux. There are a number of reasons for this, including high

interest rates for borrowing funds, expensive manual labor requirements,

increasing production costs of all kinds, as well as lower prices caused by

large quantities of imported honey entering the United States each year.

Beekeepers in the United States have traditionally made their living

producing honey, at the same time providing pollination to a wide range of

cultivated and non-cultivated plants virtually free of charge. Those

suggesting that the economic ills of the beekeeping industry can be solved

by increasing pollination fees are simply not informed about the true

nature of this endeavor. As a consequence, this study, based on honey

production, seeks to help the beekeeper find niches of profitability.

There are two major strategies, often overlooked by beekeepers, that

may be employed to improve profitability. The first is developing a local

market based on promoting honey for what it is, a unique product with an

excellent reputation as a topping, recipe ingredient or snack. Unfortu-

nately, honey has not been promoted as vigorously as other sweets, and

consequently, the market has suffered a good deal of erosion. The intro-

duction of sweetener substitutes has also resulted in reduced sales.

A second strategy is to examine more closely management of the bee-

keeping operation. Traditionally, beekeeping has been extensively

practiced. There have always been many locations for bees and moving them

from one area to another has been relatively inexpensive and easy. This is

no longer the case. Locations, especially in Florida, are difficult to

come by. In addition, as agricultural areas give way to urban development,

prime locations become even more difficult to find. The time has come to

carefully examine the profitability of more intensively managing honey bee

colonies, in an attempt to maximize productivity per unit.

As a corollary, financial management must be rigorously intensive. As

has been true of most agricultural operations during the last three

decades, financial analysis in beekeeping enterprises has taken a back seat

to production. This lack of concern was abetted by favorable business

conditions, including a rise in the price of agricultural commodities and

low interest rates. In-depth financial management takes a good deal of

head scratching and pencil pushing. Fortunately, the microcomputer

revolution will take some of the burden off the producer by allowing

greater ease in financial simulation. A case in point is the present

study, developed on templates of a spreadsheet program called Multiplan.

The study will soon be available as Circular 692 in the IFAS Computer


This publication examines the profitability of a small-scale beekeep-

ing enterprise with 500 colonies of bees that moves once a year. It is

specifically geared toward Florida conditions; however, many of the consi-

derations here will apply with some modification to any size operation

located in any part of the nation.


Profit is equal to operating income minus outgo. If income exceeds

outgo, profitability is established.

Income is the collective returns from an activity, such as money

received for sale of bee products (honey, royal jelly, pollen, package

bees) or for pollination rental. Selling bees and queens or equipment that

normally would be used in an operation is not income, but is considered a

reduction in capital investment.

Outgo includes two kinds of costs: fixed and variable. Fixed costs

are those funds expended whether or not any production or sale of products

results. They are bills that must be paid whether or not income is

produced. Fixed costs include depreciation on equipment, interest expen-

ses, taxes, insurance and rent. Variable costs, on the other hand, gener-

ally fluctuate, depending on the scale of the operation. Labor is a large

variable cost and as more honey is produced, labor costs will increase

proportionally. Other variable costs are fuel, supplies and bee feed.


Fixed costs are investments in buildings, land, bees, beehives, fences

and machinery.

Building: Most operations need a building as a base of operations and

place to do honey extraction and equipment repair. The figures below show

estimated costs of a building with 2500 square feet ($17/sq ft). Annual

interest on the building is calculated as follows: Total investment/2 x

.075. The 7.5% interest is an average figure used throughout the fixed

cost categories.

Building Investment Data

Number of square feet

Amount per square foot

Total building value



Truck doors

Total building investment

Years to depreciate

Trade-in value

Annual depreciation

Annual interest (represents

potential interest income if

funds were placed elsewhere)

ACRS depreciation (18-year

property class)


$ 0

3883 (ACRS)*


$ 3883






first & second years

third year

fourth & fifth years

sixth year

seventh & eighth years

until the final year

* ACRS is the Accelerated Cost Recovery System instituted in 1981.








Caution: Consult your attorney, accountant or tax preparer for the latest

IRS rules. The figures presented here for both interest and depreciation

are not necessarily those best for all years and all operations.

Land: There may be investments in land besides the building mentioned

above. Here land investment is estimated to be $1875. Land cannot be

depreciated; the interest is equal to: total land investment x .075.

Land Investment Data:

Various land invested in $1875

Trade-in value 1875

Annual depreciation (none) 0

Annual interest on investment 140

Bees: Bee investment is calculated on the basis of 500 packages purchased

at $18. The bees have no depreciable value and the interest is calculated

the same as for the land.

Bee Investment Data:

Number of packages (new colonies) 500

Price per package $ 18

Total package costs 9000

Other associated costs 0

Total investment in bees 9000

Trade-in value 0

Annual depreciation 0

Annual interest 675

Hives: Estimated costs to assemble one colony follow. Total investment is

based on making 500 hives, each consisting of one standard 10-frame brood

chamber and four standard supers. Notice that over 70% of the costs is for

beeswax (foundation), supers (woodenware) and labor. Hive investment is

depreciable and the interest is calculated the same as for the building.

Costs per Colony % of Cost

1 Hive bottom

5 Standard supers @ $5.80/ea

50 Standard frames @ $.42/ea

50 Sheets foundation @ $.70/ea

Rabbets, 2/super x 5 @ $.25/pr

1 Inner cover

1 Entrance reducer

1 Hive cover

1 Quart paint

8 Hours labor @ $3.85/hr

Total per new colony built

Total hive investment (500 colonies)

Years to depreciate

Trade-in value

Annual interest

Annual depreciation

ACRS depreciation template for

hives (10 year property class)

$ 5













$ 0


5360 (A

$ 5360

9380 1

8040 1

6700 1














8% first year

4% second year

2% third year

0% 4th--6th years

9% 7th--10th years

Caution: A case can be made to place hives in different property classes.

Consult your accountant!

Fence: A major predator of honey bee colonies in Florida is the black

bear. The estimated fixed costs associated with three bear fences are

listed below. Annual interest is calculated the same as for the building.

Costs per Fence % of Cost

1 Roll wire

14 Posts




2.5 hours @ $7.15/hr

2.5 hours @ $3.85/hr


Years to depreciate

Total fence investment (3 fences)

Trade-in value

Annual interest

Annual depreciation

ACRS depreciation template for

fence (5-year property class)

$ 15
















15% first year

22% second year

21% third-fifth years

Machinery and Equipment: Estimated fixed costs of machinery and equipment

associated with this scale of operation are detailed below. Replacement

values for the 3/4 ton truck and used 1/2-ton truck are based on 50%

personal use and 50% business use. Interest is calculated the same as for

the building.

Equipment Replacement Salvage Depreciation Annual Annual
Item Value Value Value Depreciation Interest

3-Year Class
3/4-ton truck $ 5000 $ 840 $ 4160 $219
5th Wheel trailer 5000 900 4100 221
Used 1/2-ton truck 2000 100 1900 79
Total 3-year class 12000 1840 10160 $2540 519

5-Year Class
Extractor 1700 510 1190 83
Whirl dry 1200 360 840 59
Brand melter 800 50 750 32
Sump pump tank 500 50 450 21
Uncapper 100 0 100 4
4 1000-lb tanks 620 180 440 30
Boiler 50 0 50 2
Feeders 500 0 500 19
Moving screens 600 0 600 23
5 Batteries 200 0 200 8
Bee blower 450 0 450 17
Storage containers 18354 0 1835 69
Total 5-year class 8555 1150 7405 $1111 367

Totals for annual
summary $20555 $2990 $17565 $3651 $886

2Based on 50% personal use.
Total cost to estimate 3-year repair costs less trucks:
Annual depreciation for 3-yr class property:
ACRS depreciation template: $2540 25% first year
3861 38% second year
3759 37% third year
Total cost to estimate 5-year repair costs: $8555.
Annual depreciation for 5-yr class property:
ACRS depreciation template: $1111 5% first year
1629 22% second year
1555 12% third-fifth
6Interest = replacement cost plus salvage value/2 X .075.



A summary of fixed investment costs for this operation is outlined below:

Replace. Invest. % of Trade-in Annual Annual
Value Cost/Hive Invest. Value Years Deprec. Interest

Building $ 43150 $ 86 30 $ 0 18 $ 3884 $1618
Hives 66775 134 47 0 10 5360 2504
Bees 9000 18 6 0 0 675
& equip. 20555 41 14 2990 Varies 3651 886
Fences 654 1 0 0 10 98 24
Land 1875 4 1 1875 0 141

Totals $142234 $285 100 $4865 $12993 $5848

These are only rounded estimates. Certain investment costs may or may

not occur, depending on circumstances. Column two of this summary reveals

a total investment of $285 per hive. The third column provides an idea of

the percentage of investment each category represents. Notice that hives

make up 47% of the investment, the building is 30% and machinery and

equipment are 14%.

How the investment is financed is also important. Below is a

suggested financing scenario and a detail of the monthly payments necessary

for cash flow analysis.

12% Interest rate for 5 years

Total financial investment $142234

Amount down 19835

To finance: 122399

MONTHLY PAYMENTS -------------- $ 2722

A total of $142234 is to be financed over five years at 12%. This

means a monthly payment of $2722. A good portion of this is tax-

deductible interest expense. Interest and principal amounts are broken

down in the cash flow statement (see Appendix at the end).

Another fixed cost item is repairs on machinery and equipment, hives,

building, etc. They are estimated here at one percent of investment and

listed below. This means a monthly repair bill of $104.

Investment Est. Repair Per Month

Building @ 1% of cost $43150 $ 432 $ 36
Hives @ 1% of cost 66775 668 56
Machinery, 3-year class @ 1% 5000 50 4
Machinery, 5-year class @ 1% 8555 86 7
Fences @ 1% of cost 650 7 1

Total $1243 $105


Estimated variable costs for this operation follow. Again, these vary

according to number of colonies operated and amount of product (honey)

produced. In order to analyze these expenses, the first thing to do is

examine the beekeeper's activities throughout the year. Producing honey is

a seasonal occupation, hectic in pace during spring and summer, while often

providing an abundance of leisure time in fall and winter.

The following is a probable sequence of operations for a 500-colony

business in Florida. It is based on one move per year to take advantage of

the citrus flow. The figures provided here are aggregates of all beeyards

in the operation, which might number as many as 12 to 16, each with 30 to

40 hives. Costs are recognized in the month they are incurred and fed into

a yearly cash flow statement.

In Florida, the beekeeping year can start as early as January. During

this month, the beekeeper makes his first colony inspection and may begin

to feed the bees for population buildup. The following estimated costs for

the month of January are for 450 colonies, supposing a 50-colony loss over

the winter from the usual 500. The total number of hives will be brought

to 500 in February.

Operator Labor Hired Labor Truck

Categories Sugar Drug Cost Hr Cost Hr Truck Miles

10 lb sugar @
$.25/lb x 450 $1125

.01 lb TM 25* @
$6/lb x 450 $27

10 min/col.
@ $6.50/hr $487.50 75

5 min/col.
@ $3.50/hr $131.25 37.5

150 truck miles
@ $.32/mile $48 150

2 hr drive time
@ $6.50/hr 13 2

1 hr drive time
@ $3.50/hr 3.50 1

*Terramycin (TM 25) is routinely used as a disease preventative in most beekeeping

In February, maple and willow are blooming heavily and populations are be-

ginning to increase rapidly. At this time, the beekeeper makes increase or

divisions to replenish colony numbers; 50 new colonies are made by divi-

sions. Following are the estimated costs for the month of February.

Operator Labor Hired Labor Truck
Categories Sugar Cost Hr Cost Hr Truck Miles Queens

7 lb sugar @
$.25/lb x 50 $87.50

10 min/col. x 50
@ $6.50/hr $54.17 8

5 min/col. x 50
@ $3.50/hr $14.58 4

20 truck miles
@ $.32/mile $6.40 20

1 hr drive time
@ $6.50/hr 6.50 1

1 hr drive time
@ $3.50/hr 3.50 1

50 queens
@ $5.00/ea $250

Beekeeping gets into full swing in March, and colonies are moved into the

citrus groves and supered up by the middle of the month. The following are

estimated costs for March 1 through 15.

Operator Labor Hired Labor Truck
Categories Misc Cost Hr Cost Hr Truck Miles

10 min/col. x 500 @ $6.50/hr $541.67 83
10 min/col. x 500 @ $3.50/hr $291.67 83
800 truck miles @ $.32/mile $256 800
8 hr drive time @ $6.50/hr 52 8
8 hr drive time @ $3.50/hr 28 8
Meals, hotel, telephone $160

From the middle of March to mid-April, citrus honey is harvested and

extracted. The following are estimated costs for March 15 through April


Operator Labor Hired Labor Truck
Categories Misc Cost Hr Cost Hr Truck Miles

Pull citrus honey
5 min/col. x 500 @ $6.50/hr $270.83 42
5 min/col. x 500 @ $3.50/hr $145.83 42
500 truck miles @ $.32/mile $160 500
5 hr drive time @ $6.50/hr 32.50 5
5 hr drive time @ $3.50/hr 17.50 5
Meals, hotel, telephone $160

Extract citrus honey
50 hr @ $6.50/hr 325 50
50 hr @ $3.50/hr 175 50
100 truck miles @ $.32/mile 32 100
2 hr drive time @ $6.50/hr 13 2
2 hr drive time @ $3.50/hr 7 2

From mid April until the end of May, the bees are moved from citrus into

gallberry and/or palmetto locations. The following are estimated costs for

April 15 through May 20.

Operator Labor Hired Labor Truck
Categories Misc Cost Hr Cost Hr Truck Miles

10 min/col. x 500 @ $6.50/hr $541.67 83
10 min/col. x 500 @ $3.50/hr $291.67 83
800 truck miles @ $.32/mile $256.00 800
8 hr drive time @ $6.50/hr 52 8
8 hr drive time @ $3.50/hr 28 8
Meals, hotel, telephone $160

The end of May and first half of June marks the harvest of gallberry and

palmetto honey. The following are estimated costs for May 20 through June


Operator Labor Hired Labor Truck
Categories Misc Cost Hr Cost Hr Truck Miles

5 min/col. x 500 @ $6.50/hr $270.83 42
5 min/col. x 500 @ $3.50/hr $145.83 42
500 truck miles @ $.32/mile. $160 500
5 hr drive time @ $6.50/hr 32.50 5
5 hr drive time @ $3.50/hr 17.50 5
Meals, hotel, telephone $160

Extraction is finished in June and July. The

this time. The following are estimated costs

honey is also being packed at

from June 15 through July 15.

Operator Labor Hired Labor Truck
Categories Cost Hr Cost Hr Truck Miles

40 hr @ $6.50/hr $260 40
40 hr @ $3.50/hr $140 40
200 truck miles @ $.32/mile $64 200
2 hr drive time @ $6.50/hr 13 2
2 hr drive time @ $3.50/hr 7 2

From mid-July until September 1, there is little work in the beeyard.

However, packing and marketing the crop are in full swing. Beginning some

time in September, colonies are requeened and fed in preparation for

winter. The following are estimated costs for July 15 through September


Operator Labor Hired Labor Truck
Categories Sugar Drug Cost Hr Cost Hr Truck Miles Queens

250 queens
@ $5.00/ea $1250
10 lb sugar
@ $.25 x 500 $1250
.01 lb. TM 25
@ $6/lb x 500 $ 30
1 tsp fumagillin
@ $1.30 x 500 650
10 min col.
@ $6.50 x 500 $541.67 83
5 min col.
@ $3.50 x 500 $145.83 42
300 truck miles
@ $.32/mile $96 300
3 hr drive time
@ $6.50/hr 19.50 3
3 hr drive time
@ $3.50/hr 10.50 3

During the latter part of September, colonies are checked for queen accep-

tance and population level. A further, final inspection occurs in October

or November and colonies weak in numbers are combined with stronger ones,

in keeping with the beekeeper's philosophy of taking winter losses in the

fall. The following are estimated costs for September 15 through November


Operator Labor Truck
Categories Cost Hr Truck Miles

5 min x 250 @ $6.50/hr $135.42 21
150 truck miles @ $.32/mile $48 150
3 hr drive time @ $6.50/hr 19.50 20

There are a number of miscellaneous activities for November through

December. These include hive maintenance (repair and painting) and,

perhaps most important, planning for the coming year. The following are

estimated costs for November 15 through December 31.

Operator Labor Hired Labor Truck
Categories Cost Hr Cost Hr Truck Miles

Maintenance 200 hr @ $6.50 $1300 200
Maintenance 200 hr @ $3.50 $700 200
600 truck miles @ $.32/mile $192 600
Planning 40 hr @ $6.50 260 40

Totals for the year for each category along with the percentage accounted

for by each are provided below. This shows that operator labor, hired

labor, sugar and queen costs are high in comparison to other categories

(drugs, trucking). Reducing queen costs, for example, might provide

savings, although stock performance should never be slighted in inten-

sive bee management. Hired labor also may be substituted for operator

labor, which is less expensive per hour by comparison.

Operator Labor Hired Labor Truck
Sugar Drug Misc Cost Hr Cost Hr Truck Miles Queens

Annual cost $2462.50 $707 $640 $5242.25 823 $2304.17 658 $1318.40 4120 $1500

% of total 17% 5% 5% 37% 16% 9% 11%

Total cost is $14174.32

By definition, variable expenses aren't incurred uniformly throughout

the year. Annual inflow and outflow of funds from an operation combine to

equal cash flow. This is a major indicator of any business; it is not

always possible, especially in agricultural endeavors, to have more income

than outgo. However, on the average, cash flow must be positive (more

inflow than outflow) or the business will fail.

The many other costs to run a business may be considered either fixed

or variable. For the cash flow analysis in this study, costs prorated on a

monthly basis and considered fixed are rent, office supplies, tools and

heating (fuel). Expenses for the accounting service (November and Decem-

ber), real estate taxes (June and December), insurance (November) and

associations and conventions (June and January) are considered variable.

These expenses will also be included in the cash flow statement.

Cost Monthly Monthly Payment
Expense Is Due

Rent $ 400 $33.33
Office supplies 150 12.50
Tools 200 16.67
Accounting service 175 Nov & Dec
Real estate taxes 500 June & Dec
Insurance except trucks 500 November
Associations & conventions 400 June & Jan
Heating, fuel 400 33.33

Total $2725


Now that production costs have been examined, how are they offset by

income from the operation? There are two major ways honey is sold by the

beekeeper: retail and wholesale. Most large beekeepers sell on the

wholesale market; the crop is extracted, packed in 55-gallon drums and

shipped to be processed by middlemen, called packers. Alternatively, the

beekeeper may prefer to develop a local market and sell retail. This study

examines the effects of both wholesaling and retailing honey. As such, it

assumes the beekeeper will do some of both.

The honey return per colony in this study is estimated to be 106

pounds. This is an optimistic figure and represents an average of about 50

pounds per major flow (citrus, gallberry). This yield multiplied by the

number of colonies equals 53,000 pounds. The following are rounded esti-

mated costs and returns for retailing 25,500 pounds (48% of the crop).

In this case, gross retail sales are projected at $26545.00. Container

costs are shown as $7710.

Retail Sales:
Container Number Total Cost Price per
Size (lb) Needed Total lb Cost of Container Pound Total Sales

60 200 12000 $4.00 $ 800 $0.95 $11400
5 800 4000 1.80 $1440 0.98 3920
2 1750 3500 1.00 $1750 1.15 4025
1 6000 6000 0.62 $3720 1.20 7200

25500 $7710 $26545

Other variables are marketing costs and include $0.04 per pound advertis-

ing and $0.32 per mile transportation costs.

Retail Cost/lb Cost/Mile Cost/hr Total Marketing
Marketing Costs of 25500 lb of 2000 Miles of 100 hr Cost

Advertising $0.04 $1020
Transportation $0.32 640
Operator labor $6.50 650

Total $2310

Wholesaling costs of packing 27500 pounds (52% of the crop) in drums is

shown below; projected wholesale sales are $12100 and container costs are


Wholesale Sales:
Size (lb) Number Total Total Selling
Needed Total lb Price Cost Price/lb Price

660 42 27500 $26 $1083.33 $0.44 $12100

Marketing costs are less for wholesaling, as is selling price.

Cost/lb Cost/Mile Total Total Marketing
Marketing Costs of 27500 lb of 300 Miles hr Cost/hr Cost

Advertising 0.02 $550.00
Transportation $0.32 96.00
Hired labor 3 $3.50 10.50
Operator labor 10 6.50 65.00

Total $721.50

Projected profit from total sales of $38645 is $26820. Notice that

62% of the profit, $16525, is derived from retail sales and 38%, or $10295

is from wholesale sales. Total retail sales are 69% of total sales, and

wholesale sales are 31%.

The figures reveal that the majority of costs in the packing are for

containers, 74% overall and 77% and 60% for retail and wholesale, respec-

tively. Advertising also takes up a large share, 13% of overall costs.

Profit and Cost Analysis

Cost Sales % of

Total retail sales $26545
Containers $7710 77
Advertising 1020 10
Transport 640 6
Hired labor 0 0
Operator labor 650 6

Less total cost $10020

Profit $16525

Profit and Cost Analysis

Cost Sales % of

Total wholesale sales $12100
Containers $1083 60
Advertising 550 30
Transport 96 5
Hired labor 11 1
Operator labor 65 4

Total costs 1805

Profit $10295

Total profit $26820

Retail costs $10020 85
Wholesale costs 1805 15

Total costs $11825

Again, marketing costs are not incurred equally throughout the year.

As a consequence, the following figures show total costs and the months

they are paid. These figures are projected in the cash flow for the first

year of operation.

Total Costs Month Incurred % of Total

Containers $8793 July & Aug 74

Advertising 1570 Sept & Oct 13

Transport 736 Oct & Nov 6

Hired labor 11 Nov 0

Operator labor 715 Oct & Nov 6

Returns lb $/lb Total

Cappings 250 $2 $ 500

Other wax rendering 500 2 1000

Total wax return, Oct & Nov 1500

Plus total honey return, Sept-Jan $38645

Total $40145


A positive cash flow over a long period of time is important if a

business is to survive. However, many operations, especially ones like

beekeeping, can have widely fluctuating costs and returns over the year.

This is the reason the present study attempts to estimate the time at which

costs might be incurred and income gained.

Detailed examination of the cash flow statement in the Appendix shows

income was produced only five months of the year (September through

January). Costs, however, were incurred every month and vary from a high

of $6769 in August to February's low of $569.

Use of a cash flow summary helps to separate effects of debt retire-

ment and operator labor. Some beekeepers prefer not to pay themselves

first. Investment advisors discourage this practice, but it would elimi-

nate this direct cost from the cash flow statement and, thus, from those of

direct cash costs and returns. Neither depreciation nor interest on

capital investments is a cash cost and, as a consequence, is not figured

into the cash flow statement.

The cash flow statement shows a negative balance at the end of the

first year ($22412). This indicates that at least that much cash will be

needed at some time during the year, if the business is to remain solvent.

There is a positive cash flow of $16118, but this is before the beekeeper

is paid (operator labor in the cash flow summary) and debt is retired.

Debt retirement is a major factor in negative cash flow; it has been

reduced from $119676 to $89727.

The cash flow tables and summaries of costs and returns in the

Appendix are the results of the original Multiplan spreadsheet program

example using these figures.


Analysis of the summary cost percentages in the Appendix again reveals

the part played by container expenses (18% of total costs). Depreciation

represents 26% of total costs and interest on the investment is 12%. Gross

return over cash costs the first year is $15217, representing $30.43 per

colony and $.28 per pound of honey produced. Return on investment,

operator labor and management is $4.45 per colony and $.04 per pound of


If operator labor is paid directly, there is a loss of $9581 or $19

per colony and $.17 per pound of honey produced. It is obvious from this

analysis that the operation lost money in its first year. This does not

mean the business is a failure. Most beginning businesses lose money the

first few years of operation, especially if, as in this case, a substantial

debt must be paid off.

Total Annual Percent of Per lb
Costs Total Cost Per Hive of Honey



Office supplies
Accounting service
Real estate taxes
Insurance, except trucks
Associations & conventions
Misc. Expenses (production)
Heating, fuel

Total operating capital
Interest on operating capital


Interest on investment
Operator labor (packing)
Operator labor (production)


Expected gross return
less total cash

Return over cash costs
less depreciation

Return on investment, operator
labor and management
less interest

Return on operator labor manage-
ment less operator labor

Return to management

Hired labor
Truck costs
Truck costs
Hired labor




















$99.45 $0.90

$80.29 $0.73
$49.86 $0.45

$30.43 $0.28
$25.99 $0.24

$4.45 $0.04
$11.70 $0.11

($7.17) ($0.07)
$11.91 $0.11

($19.16) ($0.17)

$48.05 $0.44
$1.80 $0.02

$49.86 $0.45


Now that the model of a mid-sized beekeeping enterprise has been

constructed, some generalizations are in order about this particular

operation. At the outset, it appears that the business is not profitable,

because the return to management is in the red by $9581. However, there

are extenuating circumstances. First, the business is paying off a heavy

debt load; second the operator is receiving $6.50 per hour for his/her

labor. Assuming that the family has other income, the loss could also be a

significant tax shelter, while the beekeeping operation is becoming


An examination of investment costs shows that they could be reduced in

a number of ways. The building could be rented and reduced in size or an

old one could be purchased and renovated. Many beekeepers have little

investment in excess land. Most beekeepers do not go into large-scale

honey production with totally new equipment and bees. Thus, the possibi-

lity exists that land, hive and bee investments can be substantially

reduced. Machinery and equipment investment may also be modified, depend-

ing on the operation. Any savings on investments, however, reduce depre-

ciation possibilities. Quality asset investments are important for the

business as it grows and their acquisition should be evaluated carefully.

Obviously, the amount of financing required for this operation is

important. Anything reducing the amount of money to be borrowed would

improve profitability. This means a larger down payment or perhaps extend-

ing the payments beyond 5 years. Fluctuating interest rates on asset

purchases are sure to remain important factors in the future. It is

important to remember these investments are fixed costs and must be paid

whether or not any honey is produced.

Variable costs in this operation could be examined carefully for

savings opportunities. Analyzing expenses out in the beeyard provides

insight into several savings possibilities. One is queen cost; this

represents 11% total production outlay (notice this cost is for requeening

only one-half the hives each year). One consideration is to rear one's own

queens; another is to find less expensive providers of queen bees. Again,

quality considerations take on prime importance here, for no colony is

better than its queen.

Sugar is another large cost (17% of total). The price varies consi-

derably and substitutes such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) have

recently been substantially less expensive. Because it is already in

liquid form, HFCS also saves labor in mixing. However, it must be recog-

nized that bees store HFCS more readily than food made from sucrose (table

sugar) and thus the possibility that the resultant honey will be declared

illegally adulterated increases.

Operator labor is the largest variable production cost (37% in this

example) and so must be looked at carefully in terms of cost reduction. As

suggested before, any duties that can be done by hired labor, if it frees

the operator for more "important" work, should be carefully considered. In

many management situations, the conventional wisdom of "do it yourself" is

not the best. Hiring and delegating duties in beekeeping seem to make

eminent sense, but only studying effects on each operation's profitability

will prove the point.

The concept of intensively managing bee colonies also comes into play

when considering variable costs. Reducing the number of colonies also

potentially reduces beeyards and thus driving time. Spending more manage-

ment time on one colony also qualifies as intensive activity. Most

beekeepers agree that intensive colony management pays greater dividends in

the long run.

Beyond production costs, an in-depth analysis of returns in terms of

honey and marketing costs can be extremely important. Much of the markup

in agricultural produce occurs "beyond the farm gate," and the beekeeper

should, therefore, position him/herself to take advantage of this. All too

many sell their hard-won honey inexpensively to honey processors, who take

advantage of markup. In this example, for instance, potential profit of

$16525 is expected in the retail side of the operation (packing only 48% of

honey produced). This is significantly less than the profit expected from

the wholesale side of the operation (packing 52% of the crop). It may be

worthwhile then to look critically at advertising and promotion in the

local market; there appears to exist a large potential profit in increasing

efforts here with relatively little increased expense. Advertising costs

have been purposely set high in this study as an example.

A significant amount of cost is represented by containers in both

retail and wholesale sales. These costs should be examined carefully

because they represent such a great percentage of possible profits.

Cash flow analysis adds a significant dimension to this study. It

shows the relative importance of loan payments, as well as the ups and

downs of income and disbursements throughout the year. It also helps to

predict when short term borrowing might be essential to keep the business

afloat and reveals the critical need for working capital in starting this

kind of operation. All too many businesses simply don't have enough

working capital to carry them through the first few years, when a few

dollars one way or another can spell success or disaster.


This study is based on a number of assumptions; figures produced are

best guesses. Present and potential producers should not take them as


There are a number of ways to calculate interest, for example, and

some are quite complicated. Your attorney or tax consultant may not agree

with how interest is figured here. The estimate of 106 pounds of honey per

colony is just that, an estimate. Some would say that is high in Florida.

Another arguable figure is the number of hours of both operator and hired

labor needed, and the list goes on: truck costs, driving time, packing

costs and labor and prevailing interest rates.


Although this study is quite comprehensive, it does not reveal every-

thing about a potential business. Perhaps one of the most elusive consi-

derations in any endeavor is the effect of size, sometimes called economy

of scale. The basic concept is that as size increases, so does efficiency.

However, there is a limit to this. Efficiency may in fact decrease due to

limitations in any of several variables: labor, equipment, management and

working capital.

There is a noticeable lack of economic data on beekeeping operations

in the United States; however, our Canadian neighbors have investigated

several aspects of beekeeping economics, including effects of size. In a

study from the Province of Alberta (Andruchow, 1982) the following preface


As the size of the operation increases, cost savings can be

expected in areas of operations and fixed investment components.

For example, specialized bee equipment costs will be spread

over a wider base as the number of hives increase. Operating

cost savings can come about from the use of larger equipment,

bulk buying, and more efficient use of labor and land. Lower

production costs per pound of honey with increased size would

result in increased returns to management.

One trend found in this study was a general decrease in return per

pound of honey as the size of the operation increased. The average prices

received per pound of honey sold were 78.65, 61.58 and 58.11 cents for

operations with fewer than 100 hives, between 100 and 699 hives, and over

700 hives, respectively.

Investment costs per hive ranged from $546.58 for apiaries with less

than 10 hives, to a low of $194.75 for operations with 700 to 999 hives.

Operations with 1000 hives or more had significantly higher building and

honey equipment costs (about 22%) when compared to those having 700 to 999

hives. This appears to be justified because of purchase of labor-saving

devices such as forklifts and hive loaders.

Economies of size were most apparent for labor use in the Alberta

study. Labor per pound ranged from 87.84 cents for operations with less

than 10 hives to 13.97 cents for operations with 700 to 999 hives. Average

vehicle expenses were 5.87, 5.49 and 3.74 cents for operations with fewer

than 100 hives, 100 to 699 hives, and over 700 hives, respectively.

Building and repair costs also declined with size, as did operating costs.

The Alberta study indicated that a profit was only seen in the 700 to

999 hive class and a positive return on investment was only realized by

operations having 400 or more hives. In summary, 700 to 999 hive class

operations have the lowest investment, labor, operating, and total produc-

tion costs on a per pound of honey sold basis. In addition, the relatively

high honey production of 151.04 pounds per hive yielded a profitable return

to apiaries within this class.

Although the Canadian study suggests that economies of scale favor

operations of 700 to 999 hives, those data must be tempered by present and

future conditions in Florida. Unlike the prairie provinces of Canada, the

Sunshine State is rapidly becoming urban with the concomitant problems of

decrease in bee pasturage, increase in urban and agricultural pesticide

usage and increase in potential for neighbor to neighbor conflicts result-

ing in beekeeping ordinances. On the other hand, urban markets nearby may

provide more retailing opportunity.


This study can provide significant help to those contemplating commer-

cial beekeeping. It follows decision-making through investment costs,

probable operating costs in the field as correlated with the Florida

Beekeeping Almanac (1979) and costs and returns in marketing honey on a

retail and wholesale basis.

The aim of this publication is to fill a void that has existed for

some time, by providing a guide to use in developing detailed financial

analysis for mid-sized beekeeping operations. Perhaps this study will help

beekeepers say with a greater degree of assurance how much it costs them to

produce a pound of honey.

Acknowledgement: The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Dr.

Jeannine Webb at The University of Florida's Office of Instructional

Resources and personnel at the University's Faculty Support Center for

computing assistance on this project.


Adams, R. L. and Frank E. Todd. "Cost of Producing Extracted Honey in

California," Technical Bulletin No. 656, United States Department of

Agriculture, Washington, D.C., 1933.

Andruchow, Lloyd. "The Economics of Beekeeping in Alberta 1980," Agdex

821-16, Economic Services Division, Alberta Agriculture, September


Coke, E. W. "Apiary Records of Citrus and Tupelo Honey Producers as

Discussed at the 12th Annual Florida Beekeepers Institute," Florida

Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, 1966.

Multiplan, Version 1.0, Microsoft Corp., Bellevue, Washington.

Owens, Charles D., Thayer Cleaver and Rodger E. Schneider. "An Analysis of

Beekeeping Production Costs and Returns," Production Research Report

No. 151, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of

Agriculture, 1973.

Rodenberg, Harry. "Cost of Production Survey Related to Market Price of

Honey," Am. Bee J. 107:139, 1967.

Sanford, M.T. "A Florida Beekeeping Almanac," Florida Cooperative Extension

Service, University of Florida, IFAS, 1981.


Cash flow analysis for one year:

January February March April May June


Honey sales $7729.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Wax sales $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Other income $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00

TOTAL CASH INFLOW $7729.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00



Sugar $1125.00 $87.50 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Drugs $27.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Misc. expenses (production) $0.00 $0.00 $240.00 $80.00 $160.00 $160.00
Hired labor (production) $134.75 $18.08 $319.67 $345.33 $465.50 $157.50
Truck costs (production) $48.00 $6.40 $256.00 $192.00 $256.00 $160.00
Containers $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Queens $0.00 $250.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Repairs $105.00 $105.00 $105.00 $105.00 $105.00 $105.00
Hired labor (packing) $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Truck costs (packing) $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Rent $33.33 $33.33 $33.33 $33.33 $33.33 $33.33
Office supplies $12.50 $12.50 $12.50 $12.50 $12.50 $12.50
Tools $16.67 $16.67 $16.67 .$16.67 $16.67 $16.67
Accounting service $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Insurance $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Real estate taxes $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $250.00
Advertising $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Associations & conventions $200.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $200.00
Heating, fuel $33.33 $33.33 $33.33 $33.33 $33.33 $33.33

TOTAL CASH OUTFLOW $1735.58 $568.82 $1016.50 $818.17 $1082.33 $1128.33

(Inflow minus outflow)

$5993.42 ($568.82) $1016.50



Net cash flow
+Beginning cash balance
-New capital investment
+Down payment (cash)
+New long-term borrowing
-Monthly long-term principal
-Long-term interest expense
-Operator labor (production)
-Operator labor (packing)
+Short-term borrowing
-Short-term principal
-Short-term interest expense












ENDING CASH BALANCE $2870.22 ($475.96) ($4808.83) ($8991.03) ($13693.06) ($17804.09)

ACCUMULATED BORROWINGS $119676.30 $116953.60 $114230.91 $111508.21 $108785.51 $106062.81

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

$818.61 ($1082.33) ($1123.33)

Cash flow analysis for one year:

July August September October November December Year Totals


Honey sales $0.00 $0.00 $7729.00 $7729.00 $7729.00 $7729.00 $38645.00
Wax sales $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $750.00 $750.00 $0.00 $1500.00
Other income $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00

TOTAL CASH INFLOW $0.00 $0.00 $7729.00 $8479.00 $8479.00 $7729.00 $40145.00


Misc. expenses (production)
Hired labor (production)
Truck costs (production)
Hired labor (packing)
Truck costs (packing)
Office supplies
Accounting service
Real estate taxes
Associations & conventions
Heating, fuel








$1703.83 $1709.33 $538.33 $24027.07

$5918.33 $6769.17 $1044.33


TOTAL CASH FLOW ($5918.33) ($6769.17) $6684.67 $6775.17 $6769.67 $7190.67 $16117.93
(Inflow minus outflow)


Net cash flow
+Beginning cash balance
-New capital investment
+Down payment (cash)
+New long-term borrowing
-Monthly long-term principle
-Long-term interest expense
-Operator labor (production)
-Operator labor (packing)
+Short-term borrowing
-Short-term principle
-Short-term interest expense








November December





ENDING CASH BALANCE ($26485.12) ($36511.15) ($32704.10) ($29659.13) ($26619.66) ($22411.69) ($22411.69)

ACCUMULATED BORROWINGS $103340.11 $100617.41 $97894.72 $95172.02 $92449.32 $89726.62 $89726.62

director, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture, publishes this Information to further the purpose of the May 8 and
June 30,1914 Acts of Congress; and is authorized to provide research, educational Information and other services only to individuals and Inltitu-
tions that4unction without regard to race, color, se or national origin. Single copies of Extension publications excludingg 4-H and bYuth publica-
tion) are available free to Florida residents from County Extension Offices. Information on bulk rates or copies for out-of-tate purchasers is .. "*
available from C.M. Hinton, Publications Distribution Center, IFAS Building 664, University of Florida, Gainevl, Florida 311. Before publicizing this publicatn,
editors should contact this address to determine availability.

This publication was produced at a cost of $1,191.58, or .50 cents per copy, to inform beekeepers how to maximize
their profitability. 8-2.7M-86

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs