Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Growing Manuka from Seeds - Free Information

There is a honey rush on!

Do you want to be part of it?

Better plant some manuka trees then.

Download your free Pictorial Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Manuka Trees from Seeds. Free!

And there is lots more information on Business of Bees, including comprehensive e-courses in planning, growing and planting manuka trees for honey production.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

18 tips for making $1mill in your first year beekeeping

Can you really make $1mill in your first year beekeeping?

A row of beehives waiting for the honey flow

We have a honey rush on. Everyone is jumping on the bee bandwagon hoping to make millions from manuka honey. Are they nuts, or on to something? Let's do the numbers:

Let's say you get 1000 hives in your first year. Each hive makes maybe 25kg of honey. Manuka honey sells for much more than pasture honey these days, so let's say $40/kg. So that's 1000 hives x 25kg honey x $40/kg = $1mill.

Well, that works. What could go wrong? Or maybe, a better question, what do you need to do right to succeed? 

Here are 18 tips to help you avoid some of the common pitfalls as a new beekeeper wanting to get in on the honey rush. For more information on each item, read the full post on Business of Bees.

Making 1000 hives

1. Bees are excellent at growing. When a hive is big enough, you can split it, and make 2 hives. But 2 split hives are way less productive honey-wise, than one big hive. So it is a trade off - lots of hives or lots of honey.

2. Hives that are too small tend to die. Don't split too much.

3. Splitting requires new queens. Queens are in short supply (lots of beekeepers doing just this, and splitting like mad to create lots of hives). Have a strategy for this.

4. 1000 new hives will require 1000 hive lids and 1000 hive floors and maybe 3000 hive boxes, and 30,000+ frames. And the boxes need to be ordered, and assembled, and painted, and stored.

5. 1000 hives will need 2-3 beekeepers. Who know what they are doing. Not your sister and cousin. Or not immediately, they can come in later when there is training sorted.

6. Your beekeepers need to be dedicated, hard working and smart. There is no free lunch here. Same goes for any other hangers-on. Everyone needs to be earning their keep.

7. Bees die. Varroa, AFB, starvation, swarming. Plenty of things to do all year to keep your bees alive. Find out about this, and know what you are doing. And then do it.

8. Where are these bees going to go over autumn and winter? Have you got sufficient space for them, and food?

Making 25kg honey / hive

9. See 1. Too much splitting means you are growing bees, but not honey. You may actually make 0kg honey / hive. Make sure you are choosing this deliberately, if this is your strategy, or that you have your balance of hives:honey sorted to keep your business going.

10. Where are these 1000 hives going to live? The stocking rate is 2 hives / ha. So that's 500 ha.

11. You will likely need other farmers' land. And agreements for hive placement. This means $, not a jar of honey.

12. Don't crowd your hives. Bees starve if there are too many bees and not enough flowers.

Making $40/kg

13. $40/kg only happens with manuka honey. So...put your bees in manuka. Otherwise you might get $6/kg.

14. A small patch of manuka will not cut it. You need at least 20ha, 50ha is better, so the bees have enough to forage on.

15. High DHA manuka nectar is the way to go. The science is still new on this, so it's a bit of 'watch this space', but something to keep in the back of your mind.

16. Bees don't like manuka all that much. They would much prefer to go to that lovely clover. You need some tricks and techniques to help them do what you want, which is feast exclusively on manuka.

17. Manuka only flowers for 6 weeks. Where are they going to forage for the rest of the year? Got a plan?

And my last, and most important, tip

18. Be passionate about bees. Work hard. Employ others who will work hard. Be smart about what you do. Constantly monitor, measure, tweak and think about how things are going. Just like any other business really.

There might be a honey rush on, but this is not a free-lunch opportunity. Only the best will make it through the long run.

Read the full post on Business of Bees