David A. Cushman logo

Book Keeping For Beekeepers

The late R.O.B. Manley made many attempts to quantify the costs of beekeeping...

Most that I have seen about this topic indicates that it is not a worthwhile business to be engaged in.

However many people all over the world do make a living in this manner so it is worthwhile to show the rudiments of business planning and financial forecasting here.

Profit and loss

Annual Expenditure (Fixed Costs)
Apiary rent
Rent of premises (if rented)
Business and water rates, Accountant's fees
Insurance (there may also be a variable element to this due to colony numbers)
Loss of interest on own capital
Interest paid on borrowed capital
Bank charges
Depreciation of Assets
Vehicles (trucks and fork lifts)
Premises (if owned)
Bees in hives, Hives and frames
Extractors and other processing equipment
Clothing, Office Equipment
Replacement of worn out equipment
Annual Expenditure (Variable Costs)
Labour Costs
Queens (if purchased)(or the materials and labour if "home grown")
Feed and Chemical Treatments
Electricity, Gas, Heating Oil, Petrol and Oil
Water Bills (extra to water rates)
Vehicle maintenance, Building maintenance
Packing materials, including Jars, Lids and Labels
Ingredients for Soap, Ointments, Creams, Leather dressing and any other associated products
Marketing, Advertising, Bookkeeping, Office Administration, Telephone and Internet
Annual Income
Honey Sales at Retail prices
Honey Sales at Wholesale prices
Sales of Other hive products (Wax and Propolis)
Sales of Soap, Ointments, Creams, Leather dressing and any other associated products
Sales of Queen bees and Nucs
Pollination Contracts
Resale of equipment bought in bulk (to other beekeepers)

Cashflow Forecasting

As well as your projected profit and loss the dynamics of cashflow are important if you are seeking working capital from a bank. Cashflow in beekeeping is not steady, as income mainly comes after the processing of the honey harvest.

Cashflow can be difficult in a beekeeping startup situation as delays before returns can mount up!

Break Even Point

Graph Showing Break Even Point Income and expenditure are plotted against honey production.

This graph can be used either to establish the profitability of an enterprise or conversely it can be used to find production targets for a given reward.

The dotted red cost lines refer to the situation where some fixed costs may vary with colony numbers in a linear fashion. The Pink lines represent jumps in fixed costs like the need for a second or larger vehicle.

In many beekeeping enterprises no "profit" is made until after the first 8 or 10 hours have been put in during the day.

The "Break Even Point" may not occur until the last month of the year, which may incur extra interest on working capital borrowed. In a "bad" year the break even point may not be reached, then some serious appraisal of what went wrong is then needed, but it is not enough to know what went wrong, you need to correct the problem.

Write Down Times Suitable for Beekeeping Capital Items

Beekeeping has some peculiarities in this respect, bees may be subject to disease and/or vandalism.

Combs can only be considered to have the value of the wax that could be rendered from them. (If in storage such comb can only be counted after it is rendered into wax blocks in case it is destroyed by wax moth.)

Gloves wear out after one season's use and must be considered as consumables rather than clothing.
ITEMUseful Life
Bees and Comb1 Year??
Woodenware20 Years
Clothing5 Years
Extraction and Processing Equipment (Metal)25 Years
Extraction and Processing Equipment (Plastic)15 Years
Vehicles (bought new)7 Years
Vehicles (second hand)5 Years
Buildings25 Years

All aspects must be considered in great detail and a marketing plan, Cashflow forecast and business plan prepared with realistic figures, that can be honestly justified when the bank asks questions. Beekeeping is no easy ride!

Written... Spring 2001, Revised... 17 October 2001, New Domain... 24 July 2004,
Coding Standard 2004 Issue 2 
This page has actually been validated by W3C