Wednesday, November 7, 2012

First year costs for New Beekeepers

The hive I got for free 
Tyvex suit
I've been out of the loop so I apologize it's been a bit since I blogged about the bees. A couple of things, first off, I'm developing an allergy to the bees, which is not good. I've taken a lot of stings this year especially in the past couple months. I have broken down and bought a Tyvex suit until I can raise the funds for a real suit. I've found some online for around $70, so it's on the Christmas list. So far the Tyvex (around $10) works great, but it's FAR too hot for use during the summer months, if I am going to have bees next year (and I plan on it) I will HAVE to have a protective suit due to the reactions I've had to the stings, more on that further down.

OK, so when I last left you in my bee blog I was off my feet. Had on a cast about half the summer! :(
I'm concerned that my bottom box is going to be a bit of a mess when I dig in once it's spring, but at this point, it's too late in the year to open and do one more cleaning. Even though we are 77 degrees in Denver by the way. I likely could get in there but I will opt not to since we do have a storm moving in tomorrow and I'd rather not disturb my girls. I am putting my mouse guard on today also because even though I have 3 cats, everyone I've talked to has warned me that mice are wily and they WILL get in, and they can ruin your hive! I'm simply waiting on a run over to pick one up when the store here in town opens. My husband says he can make me one, but they are so inexpensive and he's been traveling that I am going to put it on myself. Hopefully I'll post a picture of that.

As I ended up with 2 deep supers and 1 med super of honey I took only 4 frames of honey out. I know that I could have taken more, but I decided to err on the side of caution as a first time bee keeper who really wants my hive to thrive and hopefully split it next year. I am going to try out a top bar hive next year. What I really want to convey in this blog entry is my experience with my first year of beekeeping.

In that spirit I'm doing a loose breakdown of the return on investment. Mind you, my investment was not based on what I could sell honey or honey products for. This is strictly a hobby for me, but I have many friends who have asked me about how much I've spent on this little hobby and also it's a good breakdown for someone who is thinking of giving it a whirl.

So, way back in January of last year my overworked holiday brain started thinking of ways to annoy the heck outta my husband. Given that we have a small house with a smallish yard, we opted to pull out the back yard 5 years ago and put in a full vegetable garden. Which we have done successfully and enjoy our oasis every year. Each year I like to sit in the garden and watch bees do their thing. Well, being January, Tree put up for a whole year, I decided to check out some books on beekeeping and peruse the internet. I ended up buying 3 books on bees, I figure about $30 worth. Then, well, if I was going to have books I then decided I had to have magazines, such as Grit, which added another $20 so all in all publications, $50

I wanted to take a class, which I found online Craig's list for FREE :) Awesome!
I ordered my bees, a package of local bees here from a longmont beekeeper with 30+ yrs of beekeeping and queen rearing experience. $120 for the package + marked queen.

Then, I got very stressed out because money became a BIG issue due to a lay off, so I had bees on the way, but OMG, NO HIVE.... SO, I put an add on Craig'slist asking if anyone had an old hive they would be willing to give me, AND SHAZAM! I got an old hive. All med supers pretty beat up, but I put it in the oven on low heat made sure there were no lingering parasites, blow torched the pieces that were too big for the oven. The frames had no base, so I was going to need to get that but otherwise... pretty good.
Well...then my hubby got a job and I was able to afford a new hive, saving the old one for hopefully a split next year. The new hive cost $250 that included a front feeder, 2 deep supers, inner lids, a base and an outer lid.

I got some cinderblocks to keep the hive on, $5 for 2
I needed a strap to keep the box tight and closed, $12
So far I've used 2 25 lb bags of sugar + 2 5 lb bags, for about $40 worth of sugar
My tools I ordered online, a hive tool, a smoker, a frame holder, brush, 2 veils, a pair of sheepskin gloves $120
I also ordered an extra set of med super frames with bases for the old frame, which as it turns out I didn't even need, but now I have them for next year. $100 (10 of them)
I had to buy jars 12 for $10 (8oz)
I needed a tub and a bucket for collecting the honey, I don't have an extractor. $15
Mouse guard $5
I have moved to a top feeder, but I made it myself, so it was only $2 or so.
Tyvex suit $10 (I recommend you get a bee suit, you can make it to start with a Tyvex or long pats and light colored hoodie, but you NEED a veil)
I also have a spray bottle for sugar water $2

I think that's about it. So my total outlay so far has been $714 (wow, that is a lot more than I thought!)
Right now, I have 4 frames of honey, I'd say about 30lbs to process. I haven't been able to get to the extractor and the honey is still capped in a tub in the cold garage. I will have to process that and so far I've accounted for what all I will spend. I do have to get some little containers for homemade lip balm.

So there you have it, $714 and hours of entertainment, enjoyment and fun. Totally worth it.
Now, before some of you gasp, remember I have 2 hives, and totally plan on either buying a second package of bees or splitting mine, my hive IS strong.
I know I will also buy a bee suit for $75 or so. Maybe I'll see if there is a used one online I can find over the winter.

So, I am not selling any honey this year, I have gifts for the holidays of balms and jars of honey.

Now, I talked about getting stung a lot this fall, and it's true, even with a lot of smoke and the tyvex suit I 've taken a lot of stings in the past month. I took 7 in one day, which was SO random! As you can see, I got one RIGHT in the face, and I'm totally swelled up! Insane!

Well, I hope to post again sooner than later when I get my lip balm and honey put up. If not I'll try to keep other new'bees" posted on my progress as the winter goes along. Not much to do really. I'll certainly post when I start working them again in the spring.

Happy Holidays!

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