Are you limited to start beekeeping with very little money?
The biggest question I see new beekeepers ask is: “How much does it cost to start beekeeping?” Then: How can I save a lot of money getting started?”
It’s not impossible. Beekeeping on a budget is very possible. But I’m not going to tell you it’s easier.
Spending money on good sound equipment, healthy bees and good quality knowledge is the easier way. But it’s not always the most possible way for a many people who don’t have a much extra income for the hobby of beekeeping.
If you are someone who needs to start beekeeping with very little money, please don’t let naysayers keep you from getting started. It’s a little more work but you CAN keep bees with little money invested.
In this post, I will introduce:
- Several ways to save money on your first hive.
- How I managed beekeeping on a budget when I started
- Numerous ways you can start beekeeping with very little money – even without equipment or bees.
First, I’d like to tell you my story of how I got started, just to give you a little background. I truly believe this can be done because I did it. Come along on this throwback journey with me right now.
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How I Saved Money When I Started
I will keep this part short and sweet. When I started beekeeping, I was a brand new stay at home mom with a farm to take care of. So, very little income from my jobs at the YMCA and teaching online courses and for this beekeeping endeavor.
But my first instinct was to learn all I could. I craved beekeeping information and beekeeping research. And my own community is blessed to have a Free chat group of local friendly beekeepers who meet monthly to talk beekeeping. They took me and my kiddos under their wing. Here are a few things they taught me about beekeeping on a budget:
- They gave me a list of the equipment I NEED in the first year. Get YOUR copy here.
- Let me borrow books and videos about bee care from their libraries. All Free. Check out Top 5 List of Resources Here.
- Gave me recipes for bee candy and nutrition. Read how to make candy boards and bee candy here
- Gave me two opportunities to catch a swarm after only beekeeping for less than a month! Learn how to get FREE Bees Here
- Taught me about DIY ways to save money.
Because, you see, some of them had been there. They were more than willing to help little ole me out with my budget so that I could start beekeeping.
And while I learned, I saved up. I found out how much everything was going to cost and it wasn’t going to be just given to me. It doesn’t happen overnight but I made a plan, stuck to it and was very successful in my first year of beekeeping.
So, that’s my story. Now I’m going to break it down even more for you and give you some helpful advice. Are you ready? Let’s dive in!
Learn all you can
Educating yourself is the very first step. Thinking about beekeeping is your very first action and the next step is to learn everything you can.
Some great cheap or free ways you can learn about keeping bees includes:
- Taking an online course or class. You can find free classes but most quality classes, you’ll have to pay a fee for.
- Joining a beekeeping group – Sometimes free or yearly dues.
- Understand that this venture will take time and it will take money.
Beekeeping groups meet regularly (usually monthly) and have great lessons to learn as well as question and answer sessions for members. There are deeper ways to get involved in these, which I will explain in the next section.
A note on the courses: You might be not willing to pay for a class. Well, most studies show that students who are monetarily invested in their studies will stick with it better and finish.
If the free courses do not work for you, there are others out there that are very affordable. In fact I have a course just for new beekeepers that you might be interested to learn more about. It’s called Surviving the First Year of Beekeeping and right now it’s 25% off with the coupon code: BEEKEEP25.
There are also many Facebook groups and forums that can help you learn as well as YouTube videos. But connecting with other beekeepers face-to-face and locally is my favorite way to learn and find out new opportunities and tricks for beekeeping on a budget.
Connect with other beekeepers
It’s one thing to join a beekeeping group or learn beekeeping. It’s another to be an active participant and connect with other like-minded beekeepers.
When you join a local beekeeping group and connect with other beekeepers, you can learn lots of cool tips and tricks for saving money that are already tried and true.
You can also find out if there are scholarships, grants or loans for new beekeepers to get. Your local USDA offices have loans available for new beekeepers to get started. Depending on where you are, you can find grants for raising honey bees, which you don’t have to pay back.
And many larger beekeeping groups have scholarships and mentorship programs available that are free to apply. Usually, you’ll apply by application. Then, if you are approved, you’ll be able to be paired up with your new mentor, who will help you get set up and started. It’s a great program to be a part of.
Another way you can save money getting started is to go in with a friend and split the start up costs. Make sure it’s a friend you can work with as a business partner.
You can also volunteer to help a local beekeeper. You might meet this beekeeper in your new beekeeping group or maybe it’s someone you already know who got you interested. Either way, you’ll gain valuable information and possibly inherit some old equipment and swarms.
Finally, you’ll want to make sure you associate yourself with other low cost beekeepers. You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Therefore, you need to associate yourself with beekeepers who also enjoy beekeeping on a budget and have lots of DIY tips to share.
DIY Tricks and Ways to Save Money on your First Hive
Equipment is the #1 cost associated with beekeeping. I know what I thought when I was told to get three hives. Yikes!
If you’re good at building or know someone who is, I suggest finding some plans to build your own equipment. There are lots of tutorials out there for DIY Equipment Plans. Get good plans here from BEESOURCE.
I sure wish I would have build mine. I plan to build more equipment in the future but for convenient, I did the next cheapest thing and ordered the assembled pieces.
Don’t be overwhelmed with building your own equipment like I was. Start easy with the Top Bar or the Langstroth style hive. These are simple designs for new beekeepers to learn the ins and outs of the bees first.
Also, you can collect what pieces you need from recycled materials found free or low cost to build your hives and frames. You can also build items you would normally order, such as swarm traps, veils maid from mosquito netting and feeders.
Finally, you can attract bees to your location by planting a pollinator garden or learning how to catch swarms early on. Yes, as early as your very first month as a beekeeper!
Catch a Swarm
The bees themselves are the #2 cost associated with beekeeping. But it all adds up. And there are some super easy ways to get free bees. One way is to attract them as mentioned above.
But the best way is to catch a swarm of bees settled in an unwanted area. This was my first set of free bees found within two weeks of me getting my first hives set up. In that week, I actually got TWO phone calls wanting me to come get swarms. And I was a brand new rookie.
I learned pretty quickly how amazing catching a swarm of bees is. It can be scary to a new beekeeper. But I got over my fear pretty fast.
Catching a swarm is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to obtain new bees for a hive. Many areas have a swarm list of beekeepers in the area that will be called to come gather up an unwanted swarm.
Save Money on Your First Hive the Right Way
There are two parts to this. What to do and what not to do.
Here’s what to do when ordering Equipment. Please buy new when you are first starting out. Find a way to save on shipping costs. They are outrageous. It’s a mistake I made with my first equipment order.
Go with a company that offers free or cheaper shipping or order in bulk. You could also make arrangements to pick up and save on shipping that way as well.
And now for what not to do.
Please Avoid the Following:
Please Do Not: Buy via Craigslist for used woodenware or find used equipment from beekeepers going out of business. Chances are, you will be buying problems that are forcing the beekeepers to go out of business. You could be inheriting their problems that way.
So, please just buy new and from reputable places and people.
Also, avoid shopping for supplies on eBay or Amazon UNLESS it’s from a reputable company. When I recommend a product via Amazon, I make sure it is from Mann Lake or Dadant or Some other reputable beekeeping supply store. Such as this smoker from Dadant.
Bottom line…You want to avoid problems that could be holding you back from making a profit in the future. Problems that could be preventing you from loving the art of beekeeping. So, purchase good quality uninfected equipment and bees from reputable company and people.
Stop Worrying About Money. Practice Beekeeping on a Budget
Beekeeping is a great hobby for anyone to start and fall in love with it. And I’m not going to tell you you can’t start beekeeping on a budget because it has been done before.
Unfortunately, I have to tell you that it does cost money to get started. It’s all about prioritizing and doing what’s important.
The most important thing you can do right now is to start at the top with learning more about beekeeping. Take your time, meet some people and they will help you along the way. Your new beekeeping friends will introduce you to new opportunities. They will show you amazing things.
And things will start happening for you. Things will start to make sense to you. And while you’re making sense of it all, you’ve finally saved up enough money for beekeeping equipment.
Learning first will get you excited about beekeeping. It will help you to grow your passion and to become a beekeeper even before you spend money on equipment and bees.
Now, if that doesn’t help you look forward to beekeeping, I don’t know what will!
Successful Beekeeping on a Budget will NOT happen overnight.
Please know that these beekeeping on a budget tips will not happen for you tomorrow. If you were to pay money for these things, they definitely could happen quickly.
But if you are wanting to start beekeeping with very little money, I suggest you stick to the long term plan:
- Free (Swarms)
Find ways to get the stuff you need and avoid the stuff you don’t. And I promise you that you will become a beekeeper and you will find success in your endeavor.
~ Much Love ~
Believer. Teacher. Mommy to Girls & Goats. Lover of the land. Farm Fresh Foodie. Wellness Coach. Welcome to my Rural Life!
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