“Beekeeping can be fun and profitable.”
Most beekeepers out here in the west have had a good season. Although the year started off really, really dry (there was less than one inch of rain and snow from January 1 though May 20), July and August were wet and mild and saved farmers and beekeepers from disaster.
So, honey crops were at least normal. But wholesale honey prices are low, putting pressure on commercial honey farms. Commercial prices have fallen from over CA$2/pound in 2014 to about CA$1.25 in 2016. Some of our western Canadian producers make over a million pounds of honey a year, so they are losing a fortune with the low prices. Operating expenses don’t fall with the honey market, of course. In a foul-weather year, expenses are slightly less if there is less honey to extract, store, and market. But with a normal-size crop and a low product price, expenses may actually increase because of interest on money that must be borrowed and honey that must be stored until a buyer can be found.
Even with lower prices, hobby and sideline beekeepers should not sell their crops at bargain rates. First, try to think of your product as somewhat different from the bulk-in-a-barrel honey. People seek out local honey produced by beekeepers whom they can meet and greet. For this, you deserve more money and you should hold last year’s price. Second, it’s always hard to raise prices once you lower them.
We will have a lot more to say about this at our November session of Making Money from Honey. Send a note to Ron (firstname.lastname@example.org) to book a seat at the course. Participant numbers are capped and spots have to go to the first people who book.
The Fall 2016 session of Making Money from Honey is scheduled for Saturday, November 19.