|Tom A ||
Posted 03-31-2002 at 16:23:56
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Thanks for the vote of confidence, DJ!
We've been keeping bees for a little over a dozen years now--just long enough to know that we don't know anything about them. Every years is different.
But, yes, they are worthwhile for a lot of reasons. They contribute to pollination, and so increase production of many field crops. The're a lot of fun, but a lot of hard work, too. You can make a profit from honey if you are careful and lucky, but you cannot get rich off of honey sales.
How much you get depends a lot on where you are, what the local nectar sources are, and how well you manage your colonies. In Maryland, the average beekeeper harvests about 35 pounds of honey per hive...I'm fortunate because in my area we manage to average closer to 50. Bigger producers get less per hive...a small producer can spend the time to manage the hives well and so get a better average.
Right now honey is selling retail (here) at around $3 a lb. Average production costs run somewhere around $1.50 a pound now (not counting beekeeper time, that's equipment, jars, labels, miticides, queens, etc etc).
It is hot and heavy work especially in summer and fall at harvest time it is hot and you will get stung. A full deep hive body weighs around 60 lbs, and they weren't designed to be easy to lift; jar one, and you tick off the residents. Mites have developed resistance to the approved miticides (which cost a bundle, by the way), so you can do everything right and still lose most of your hives over the winter to mites. *But* it is fun, and I learn something new everytime I open a hive...and you can't beat the taste of honey just out of the comb!