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How to Start a Beekeeping Business

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Edited by:

Reviewed by: Daniel Javor

Published on June 3, 2022

Updated on October 20, 2022

How to Start a Beekeeping Business

Disclaimer: Step by Step Business’ content is for informational and educational purposes only. It’s not intended to be a substitute for professional legal or tax advice. All of our articles are thoroughly reviewed and fact-checked by our editorial team. Read our editorial guidelines for more details.

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Fast Facts

Investment range

$3,950-$9,500

Revenue potential

$54,000-$108,000 p.a.

Time to build

0-3 months

Profit potential

$43,000-$65,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Flexible

How to Start a Beekeeping Business

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. 

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Before starting a beekeeping business, it’s important to consider the pros and cons.

Pros

  • Low Ongoing Costs – Rearing bees is relatively inexpensive
  • Get Creative – Make and sell a variety of unique products
  • Rewarding – Help save the bees!

Cons

  • Knowledge Required – Must know how to grow and maintain a bee colony
  • Strict Regulations – Must adhere to FDA guidelines for edible products

Beekeeping industry trends

Industry size and growth

beekeeping industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

Trends within the beekeeping industry include:

  • 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.

beekeeping industry Trends and Challenges

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. 

If you’re brand new to beekeeping, consider taking an online course. Udemy offers a Beekeeping 101 program for around $20. 

You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your beekeeping business, including: 

  • Bees
  • Honey extractor
  • Smoker
  • Beekeeper’s suit
  • Website
Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Licenses and permits$100-$300$200
Insurance$100-$300$200
Marketing and advertising$500-$1,000$750
Website$1,000-$3,000$2,000
Computer$850-$1,800$1,250
Bees$100-$300$200
Beekeeping tools and supplies$1,000-$2,000$1,500
Product packaging and supplies$300-$800$500
Total$3,950-$9,500$6,600

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. 

beekeeping business earnings forecast

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

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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

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. 

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 business premises

You’ll need anywhere from 6,000 square feet to a couple 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.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
beekeeping business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a 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: “Jim’s Bakery” over “Jim’s Cookies”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step 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 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: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
  • Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
  • Product and Services: Describe your offerings in detail.
  • Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
  • Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
  • Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
  • Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
  • Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
  • Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
  • Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist at Fiverr to create a top-notch business plan for you.

what to include in a business plan

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 ZenBusiness’s 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. 

types of business structures

Step 6: Register for Taxes

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.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

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.  

Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits

Starting a beekeeping business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

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. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

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.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

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.

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • 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.

Marketing

Some of your business will come from word of mouth or online visitors, but you should still invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness. 

Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products: 

  • Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area. 
  • Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
  • Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Buy Now”. This can sharply increase purchases.
  • Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers.

Kickstart Marketing

Take advantage of your website, social media presence and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include: 

  • Competitions and giveaways – Generate interest by offering prizes for customers who complete a certain action, such as resharing one of your social media posts or tagging a friend in the comments.
  • In-Person Sales – Offer your honey or beeswax products at local markets, trade shows 
  • Post a video – Post a video about your beekeeping business. Use humor and maybe it will go viral!
  • Email marketing/newsletter – Send regular emails to customers and prospects. Make them personal. 
  • Start a blog – Start a blog and post regularly. Change up your content and share on multiple sites.
  • Seek out referrals – Offer incentives to generate customer referrals to new clients. 
  • Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
  • Influencer marketing – Pay people with large social media followings to promote your honey or beeswax products. You can find micro-influencers with smaller followings and lower rates.
  • Testimonials – Share customer testimonials about how much they enjoy your products.

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. 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. 

You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. 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.

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 
unique selling proposition

Networking

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: 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.

Beekeeping Business FAQs

How much does it cost to start a beekeeping business?

You can start a beekeeping business for around $4,000. Your main costs will be bees, beekeeping supplies, packaging and shipping supplies for products, and marketing expenses.

How do I learn how to become a beekeeper?

There are many online courses available for aspiring beekeepers. You can take a Beekeeping 101 course on Udemy for around $20.

Is a beekeeping business profitable?

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.

Do I need a license to run my beekeeping business?

You may be required to obtain specific licenses or permits to operate your beekeeping business. Check with your state and local government or visit MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance page.