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Hobby as a Business Analysis: Beekeeping

When it comes to increasing your savings and working your way toward financial freedom, it all boils down to two unavoidable facts. If you’re currently not saving very much money (or you’re bathing in a sea of red ink on your own personal balance sheet), you either need to:

  • Reduce Expenses
  • Make More Money

The simplistic nature of this hides the complexity of a real life situation. Reducing expenses could be a complete overhaul of your current lifestyle, including downsizing your home/car/spending habits in order to get your financial house in order. Making more money could be reinventing yourself into a more lucrative career, going back to college, selling the stuff lying around the house, or turning one of your hobbies into a productive side business. I’ve always been a guy who believes in the idea of diversifying the sources of your income, and I’ve recently given some thought to converting over one of my unusual hobbies: Beekeeping.

As an example, let’s break down why beekeeping might be a good idea for a new side business and the pros and cons of doing so. I’ve been toying around with beekeeping for about a year now and really enjoy it, but we’re really only now considering it as a source of income.


  • Demand is out there
  • Built in network of customers
  • Fun to do even if I wasn’t making money at it
  • Seasonal (You get winters off!)
  • Other potential product lines (beeswax candles, balms, etc.)

My brother volunteers at a local garden in Philadelphia as a beekeeper and every year they sell the extra honey from the hives in order to earn income. They always sell out and have additional potential customers they can’t supply. As a result this builds in a customer base for us to tap into with our own local hives. As the concept of buying local produce continues to spread, locally grown fully organic honey would likely be a big hit in the area.


  • Expensive expansion
  • Limited Space
  • Colony Collapse, mites, bad weather, etc. could all end up meaning no honey

Not everything about beekeeping is all fun and games. If you know anything about the industry, many commercial beekeepers have seen their hive populations by an unexplained condition known as Colony Collapse Disorder. For reasons unknown, many hives are losing their adult bee workers, a necessity for the natural everyday function of any hive.  So far local keepers have not seen as much of an impact, but there are plenty of other threats out there as well. Mites, hive beetles, harsh winters, and a slew of other conditions can mean the hive won’t make it, and they are particularly vulnerable in their first year. In addition if we wanted to expand our honey production capabilities we would have to purchase additional hives, and the costs add up quickly. We would also need to find additional space for more hives.

All in all, it looks like starting up beekeeping as a small side business could actually be pretty lucrative. The key will be keeping it on a smaller scale so as it isn’t too much of a money or time sink. I’ll keep you posted on the status of our 5 new hives as the season progresses. If we happen to sell any honey, I’ll be sure to let you guys know as well!

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