David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.
Published on June 3, 2022 Updated on November 9, 2023
Time to build
Beekeeping is more than just a hobby, it’s good for the planet. Over the last several years, countless people became beekeepers to help the endangered bee population and ended up turning impressive profits.
When it comes to tasty, all-natural foods, all-natural honey is at the top of the list. And with more people swapping out sugar and artificial sweeteners, honey is more popular than ever. Demand for beeswax products is increasing as well. In fact, the global beekeeping market expects strong growth for at least the next five years.
But before you jump into that beekeeper’s suit, it’s important to develop your idea and gain the requisite entrepreneurial knowledge. Luckily, this step-by-step guide provides the valuable insight and information you need to start out on the right foot.
Looking to register your business? A limited liability company (LLC) is the best legal structure for new businesses because it is fast and simple.
More people are turning to honey as a healthier alternative to sugar. The surge in demand is great news for honey-selling beekeepers.
Honey is now being used in cosmetics and medicines, further driving demand. Specifically, manuka honey is known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Challenges within the beekeeping industry include:
Inflation is raising prices on supplies needed for a successful beekeeping business. For example, the price of lumber needed for hive construction is three to four times higher than ten years ago.
Many beekeepers ship their bees to warmer climates during colder months and bring them back in the summer. However, the rising price of gas and supplies has made this process significantly more expensive.
How much does it cost to start a beekeeping business?
Startup costs for a beekeeping business range from $3,900 to $9,500. Main costs include bees, beekeeping supplies, packaging, website, and advertising. You can keep costs low by raising bees on your existing property.
You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your beekeeping business, including:
Licenses and permits
Marketing and advertising
Beekeeping tools and supplies
Product packaging and supplies
How much can you earn from a beekeeping business?
The average cost of honey is around $1 per ounce, or $12 per pound. A beehive typically produces 60 pounds of honey per year. After your costs of bees and supplies, packaging, and advertising, expect a profit margin of around 80%.
In your first year or two, you could maintain 75 hives and sell 4,500 pounds of honey at $12 per pound. This would result in $54,000 in annual revenue and a profit of $43,000, assuming that 80% margin. As your business grows, you could increase your hives to 150 and sell 9,000 pounds of honey per year. At this stage, you’d lease additional land and hire staff, reducing your profit margin to around 60%. With annual revenue of $108,000, you’d make a handsome profit of $65,000.
What barriers to entry are there?
There are a few barriers to entry when starting a beekeeping business. Your biggest challenges will be:
Growing and maintaining a thriving bee colony
Competition with other bee product businesses
Related Business Ideas
If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
Now that you know what’s involved in starting a beekeeping business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.
Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.
Why? Identify an opportunity
Research beekeeping businesses in your area to examine their products, price points, and customer reviews. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a beekeeping business that focuses on health and wellness products.
You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as beeswax candles or flavored honey.
This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.
What? Determine your products or services
You’ll be harvesting honey and beeswax from your bee colonies and selling the raw materials. You might also turn your harvests into consumable products for sale. Your products could include honey, beeswax candles, soaps or furniture polish.
How much should you charge for honey and beeswax products?
Current prices for an ounce of honey range from $.50 to $1.50. Beeswax currently sells for around $10 per pound. If you decide to create and sell products derived from honey or beeswax, your price per item will depend on materials used and time spent on manufacturing. After your costs of maintaining your colonies, manufacturing, and packaging, expect a profit margin of around 75%
Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.
Who? Identify your target market
Your ideal customers are people who enjoy honey, beeswax, and other bee products. Spread your marketing efforts across social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram.
Where? Choose your beekeeping location
Selecting the right location for your beekeeping business is essential for its success. Look for an area with abundant floral sources, such as a rural landscape or a farm with crops that bees can pollinate. Consider accessibility and safety, ensuring that the location is not in close proximity to residential areas or places where people congregate.
You’ll need anywhere from 6,000 square feet to a couple of acres of land to properly house your beehives. If you have enough land on your property, you can house your bees there to keep costs low. Otherwise, plan on leasing or purchasing a plot.
In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. As your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out a physical storefront. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.
Step 3: Brainstorm a Beekeeping Business Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
Including keywords, such as “honey bees” or “beekeeping”, boosts SEO
Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Golden Nectar Beekeeping” over “Wildflower Honey”
Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
Discover over 200 unique beekeeping business name ideas here. If you want your business name to include specific keywords, you can also use our beekeeping business name generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.
Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.
Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.
Step 4: Create a Beekeeping Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
Executive Summary: A brief overview of the beekeeping business, highlighting key aspects such as its mission, goals, and financial summary.
Business Overview: An in-depth description of the beekeeping venture, including its history, mission statement, and the specific products and services offered.
Product and Services: Clearly outlines the beekeeping products (honey, beeswax, etc.) and services (hive maintenance, pollination services) offered by the business.
Market Analysis: Examines the beekeeping industry, identifying target markets, trends, and potential customer demographics to inform business strategies.
Competitive Analysis: Evaluates competitors in the beekeeping sector, highlighting strengths and weaknesses, and proposing strategies to gain a competitive edge.
Sales and Marketing: Details the strategies for promoting and selling beekeeping products, including pricing, distribution channels, and marketing campaigns.
Management Team: Introduces key individuals responsible for managing and operating the beekeeping business, outlining their roles and qualifications.
Operations Plan: Describes the day-to-day activities involved in beekeeping, including hive management, honey extraction processes, and logistical considerations.
Financial Plan: Provides a comprehensive overview of the financial aspects, including startup costs, revenue projections, and a break-even analysis.
Appendix: Contains supplementary information such as detailed financial forecasts, market research data, and any additional documentation supporting the beekeeping business plan.
If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.
Step 5: Register Your Business
Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.
Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!
Choose where to register your company
Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to beekeeping businesses.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.
Choose your business structure
Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your beekeeping business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.
Here are the main options:
Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)– Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.
The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.
It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.
Step 7: Fund your Business
Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:
Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.
Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a beekeeping business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.
Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.
You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more.
Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your beekeeping business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.
Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.
Step 10: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.
Here are some types of insurance to consider:
General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.
As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.
You may want to use industry-specific software, such as MyApiary, ApiManager, or Apiary Book to measure hive health and performance, plan beekeeping tasks, and log inspections.
If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.
You can create your own website using website builders. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.
They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.
Crafting an effective marketing strategy for your beekeeping business is vital to attracting customers, educating the public about the importance of bees, and selling your products, like honey and beeswax. Here’s how you can create buzz around your bee-related offerings:
Digital Presence and Online Marketing
Engaging Social Media Content: Use platforms like Instagram to share the journey of your bees and the honey-making process. Highlight the natural aspect of your products and their quality.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO):Optimize your website for search terms related to beekeeping, honey, and natural products to improve visibility in search results.
E-commerce Integration: Sell your honey and beeswax products directly from your website, and ensure the shopping experience is seamless with clear calls to action like “Add to Basket”.
Content Marketing and Engagement
Educational Blogging: Share blog posts and articles about the benefits of local honey, the role of bees in the ecosystem, and tips for starting a beekeeping hobby.
Customer Engagement: Use newsletters to keep your customers informed about the seasonal aspects of beekeeping and when new batches of honey are available.
Experiential and In-Person Engagements
Beekeeping Workshops: Offer workshops or experiences where people can learn about beekeeping, which can also serve as a direct marketing opportunity for your products.
Farmers’ Markets: Attend local farmers’ markets to sell your products and engage with the community, providing tastings and educational materials.
Collaborations and Community
Local Partnerships: Collaborate with local businesses to get your honey featured in their products, or work with schools to educate children about beekeeping.
Community Outreach: Host or participate in community events focused on sustainability and the environment to raise awareness about the importance of bees.
Customer Relationship and Loyalty Programs
Honey Subscription Services: Create a subscription service where customers can receive a new batch of honey every month, fostering regular sales and customer loyalty.
Referral Incentives: Encourage your customers to refer others with discounts or small gifts, like beeswax candles or honey samples.
Promotions and Advertising
Visual Storytelling: Use the visual appeal of beekeeping in advertising, showcasing the hives, honey extraction process, and the vibrant colors of pure honey.
Influencer Collaborations: Partner with food bloggers or eco-influencers who can help promote the natural and sustainable aspects of your products.
Branding and Packaging: Design attractive and sustainable packaging that tells the story of your beekeeping business and can be shared on social media.
Local SEO and Listings: Make sure your business is listed on local directories and food-related platforms to attract customers searching for local and sustainable products.
Educational Videos: Create educational videos about bees and beekeeping, which could gain traction and interest in your business and products.
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your beekeeping business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.
Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your beekeeping business could be:
Our products are the bee’s knees!
From our hives to your home – honey, candles and more
High-quality, locally-sourced honey
You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a beekeeping business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in beekeeping for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.
The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in beekeeping. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership.
Step 12: Build Your Team
If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a beekeeping business include:
Beekeeper – Maintain hives, harvest honey and beeswax
Administrative Assistant – Pack and ship products, handle customer inquiries
Marketing Lead – Manage social media sites, run advertising campaigns
At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.
Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
Step 13: Run a Beekeeping Business – Start Making Money!
Beekeeping takes some time to learn, but once you’ve cultivated thriving hives, your profits should thrive along with them. Helping the endangered bee population while selling high-quality, natural products is a sustainable, rewarding way to make a living!
Now that you’ve done your entrepreneurial homework, it’s time to suit up and start the beekeeping business of your dreams.
Yes, a beekeeping business can be very profitable. The key to driving revenue will be how unique your honey and beeswax products are and your ability to stand out from the competition.
How much time does beekeeping take?
For a small-scale hobbyist beekeeper, beekeeping can require just a few hours per week during the busy season (usually spring and summer) to check on the health of the bees, monitor honey production, and perform routine maintenance tasks such as cleaning and adding or removing supers (boxes that hold frames of honeycomb).
However, commercial beekeepers may need to spend several hours each day tending to their hives during peak season, which can last for several months.
How many bees do you need to start a hive?
To start a hive, you typically need a package or nucleus colony of bees, which generally consists of around 10,000 to 15,000 worker bees, along with a queen bee. The exact number of bees required can vary based on factors such as the type of bees (e.g., honeybees), local conditions, and the desired strength of the colony.
What size bee hive is best for beginners?
For beginners, it is recommended to start with a standard size hive, such as a Langstroth hive. This type of hive is widely used and has a well-established system of frames and supers for brood rearing and honey storage. Langstroth hives come in different sizes, but the most common size is the 10-frame deep hive, which provides ample space for colony expansion and management.
Should hive be in sun or shade?
Hives should be placed in a location that provides a balance of sun and shade. Ideally, hives should receive some morning sunlight and be partially shaded during the hottest part of the day. This helps regulate the temperature inside the hive and prevents it from becoming excessively hot. However, it’s important to ensure the hive is not in constant shade, as sunlight is essential for the bees’ navigation and orientation.
How to Start a Beekeeping Business
Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Hone Your Idea
Brainstorm a Beekeeping Business Name
Create a Beekeeping Business Plan
Register Your Business
Register for Taxes
Fund your Business
Apply for Beekeeping Business Licenses and Permits
Open a Business Bank Account
Get Business Insurance
Prepare to Launch
Build Your Team
Run a Beekeeping Business - Start Making Money!
Beekeeping Business FAQs
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