What is the Cost of Keeping Bees?

What is the Cost of Keeping Bees?
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Bees are all the hype. Raw fresh honey? Yes Please! But are you thinking about the cost of that honey? Get the details on what to consider for prices and benefits below. Yes, you can put numbers to each of them to determine if they are actually worth it or what you need to sell your honey for. 
First up the bees. There are several options for buying your first bees. You might be able to find a local who wants to downsize and buy and existing hive, but more than likely you will have to buy a nuc or package of bees. Nucs are 5 frames of beehives that are active and have an existing queen and colony ready to grow. Often you can buy a nuc split from local beekeepers. A package bees are ordered through the mail. And placed into a hive. 
Next you need a hive. Really you need 2 hives. Starting with 2 hives makes it easier to spot when something is wrong with one of the hives. You can buy a hive new online or find a used hive from local beekeepers looking to downsize. 
You also need equipment for you to stay safe when working your bees. A bee suit, hive opener, and fogger are the minimum. These are best to just buy new. 
If you live in a cold area, you will need something to feed the bees through the winter with. You can easily make this as it can be as simple as a spacer box, or you can buy your first one, so you have a pattern for later. With this you will also need the sugar to feed them in the winter and early spring as emergency feed. 
Varro mites are bound to need to be treated. So, you will have to buy mite treatment yearly. 
The final equipment is honey harvest equipment. Yes, you can totally just pull the frames, scrape, and strain. I decided to just buy the spinner expecting my hives to grow and make honey harvest easier, faster, and cleaner. 
Now what can bees give you? The obvious one is honey. However, there is more less obvious and harder to price benefits. For instance, pollination services. Having bees helps many garden plants to do better because pollination is better. This gives you a better garden harvest. 
Bees can also be entertaining to watch. Even at a distance, you can relax watching them do their thing and feel fascinated by their communication and work.  
Here’s the summery with numbers for a potential apiary in the second year and beyond. 
Expense (2 hives)
Income (2 hives)
One time
Life span
Per Year cost
PPE Supplies
Winter Feed box
Honey Harvest Equipment
Honey (3.75 gal/hive)
Mite treatment
Additional w/growth
Hive split
Winter Feed Box

Yes, you will need to add hives, as you split the hives and your apiary grows, but you will use the hives year after year. To do a true analysis, you will have to split out the life span of the supplies to get the yearly amount. Also note you will probably not have honey the first year. 
Happy beekeeping!
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