How Much Does It Cost to Start Beekeeping?
Let's not waggle dance around the answer....it's expensive. But, as far as hobbies go it is less expensive than let's say playing on a hockey team or some other sports team and cheaper than a seasonal premium golf club membership.
So where do the costs come from in beekeeping? The main costs are going to come from the start up equipment needs for your colonies. On average you are going to spend roughly $200-$250 in hive components per colony and an additional $180-200 in protective clothing.
Although brand new beekeeping equipment is costly, we strongly recommend starting with new beekeeping equipment rather than used. This is because when you are unaware of used equipment's history, you don't know what kind of disease spores could be harbored in it, and there are some terrible things you could be welcoming into your apiary by buying used.
So the person selling you the used equipment says it hasn't been used in 20 years and has been in their barn the whole time? Great, but devastating disease spores like American Foul Brood (AFB) can lay dormant on and in beekeeping equipment for more than 50 years and could be waiting to infect your new bees when they're hived in the potentially infected equipment. So play it safe and always buy new hive equipment.
Ok, so for those keeping tally, the total costs in hive equipment and protective clothing are now roughly at $400 combined, now we need to look at the costs of the most important part of the adventure, the honey bees themselves.
The next question is where do you buy bees in New Brunswick? NBee Gold sells a limited supply of 4 Frame "nucs" each Spring. But regardless of who you choose to buy your bees from, we always recommend buying your bees from a well run, reputable, healthy, and local beekeeping operation. Stay away from importing bees and queens. Local bees are more adapted to thrive in our New Brunswick climate and those are the genes that should be propagated through the area. The average cost of a Spring Nuc in New Brunswick is around $200.
So all in all, your first year keeping bees will run your roughly $600 per colony in total factoring in the honey bees, equipment and protective clothing. The good news is that some of these costs are one time investments, like the clothing, some equipment like smokers and hive tools, and potentially the honey bees themselves. As you become a more experienced beekeeper and successfully get your colonies to survive through Winter and into Spring, you can begin to propagate your own colonies by splitting them and increasing your hive count with only having to buy hive equipment and not the bees themselves.
Lastly, there are some other variable maintenance costs that are incurred throughout a season. These include things like sugar for feeding, medications and treatments for disease and mites.
Despite the costs this is still a very rewarding hobby and we highly recommend it!