How Much Does it Cost to Start Beekeeping?
“How much does it cost to start beekeeping?” is a question we get asked quite frequently from those interested in joining the fast growing community of backyard beekeepers. In this post we are going to break down the basic requirements and costs for getting started with your first colony of honeybees.
It is highly recommended that you get some kind of education on honeybees and beekeeping before you actually get a colony of bees to manage. If you try keeping bees without any basic beekeeping knowledge it is very likely that your colony of bees will fail by the end of your first season. You will join a large number of people who wanted to have bees but weren’t willing to put the time and effort into learning how to actually keep bees. There is a growing number of these people who are now the proud owners of empty bee boxes.
Here are some options for getting some basic beekeeping knowledge and training:
Find an Intro to Beekeeping Class offered by an experienced beekeeper. $45-$75
Read books on beekeeping. When I decided to become a beekeeper I went to my local library and checked out the 2 books they had on beekeeping. These books were the foundation of my beekeeping knowledge when I started beekeeping. $0-$20
See if there is a local Beekeepers Association in your area. Beekeepers associations or clubs can be a great resource for the beginner beekeeper. Many offer public apiary days with hands on training. Some local beekeeping clubs offer mentor programs as well. The average cost for joining a local beekeepers association is about $15-$30.
Youtube is a great resource for beginner beekeepers. Find an experienced beekeeper on Youtube who is keeping bees in a similar environment as you and subscribe to their channel. We keep bees almost excursively in backyards in the city and document our methods and operation on our Youtube Channel for others to learn from. Free
To begin you will need some basic beekeeping equipment including:
A Beehive: $120-$200
A Hive Tool: $7-$12
A Bee Brush: $6-$10
A Bee Smoker: $30-$40
Protective Gear: Depending on whether you want to start with a simple veil or a full bee suit, protective gear can range from $20-$160.
Buying a complete Starter Kit is another option. These kits come with all of the above and usually include a beginner beekeeping book as well. The basic starter kits and the deluxe starter kits range from $200-$450.
Now that you have your education and equipment it is time to buy your bees. It is highly recommended that you buy bees of gentle stock from a reputable bee breeder. You don’t want nasty bees to ruin your first experience with beekeeping. This is why we don’t recommend trying to catch a swarm or cut out a feral colony of bees to get started beekeeping.
Package bees: These are usually 2-3 lbs of worker bees that have been shaken into a screened box and a caged queen bee. The packaged bees are then shook into your new hive and given sugar water to build up and establish themselves in their new home. Package bees are notorious for flying away and leaving you with an empty box. $140-$175
Nucleus Colony: This is an established colony of of bees in a half width bee box including a healthy population of worker bees, a laying queen, 5 frames of drawn comb with brood in different stages, nectar, and pollen. Since a nucleus colony is already established, they tend to do build up quickly without skipping a beat when the 5 frames of the nucleus colony are transferred into your new full-size bee hive. $150-$200
There are a lot of other things that you will probably want to purchase down the road, like more bee boxes and a honey extractor, but the above is what you will need to get started. The total startup cost to beekeeping ranges from about $400-$650.