23 Ways To Start Beekeeping On A Shoestring

A smiling beekeeper holding a frame with hives behind him

If you’re considering becoming a beekeeper, the initial expenses may be a stumbling block. We broke down all the costs of starting beekeeping here and you’ll need at least $420.

Thankfully, there are ways to reduce the initial costs. This article offers practical tips for saving money starting beekeeping. Number 17 is a winner, so check it out.

23 tips for reducing beekeeping startup costs

1. Educate yourself

Learning the basics of beekeeping is essential for avoiding costly mistakes. There are free videos and guides online that will give you a running start when the bees arrive.

2. Buy a starter kit

A starter kit for new beekeepers is a simple way to order most of what’s needed to keep bees effectively and safely. A good kit will include a hive, tools, and a bee suit.

3. Consider natural beekeeping

The natural approach to raising bees is hands-off, leaving the colony to fend for itself. You’ll save money on ongoing costs like treatments and feeding supplements.

4. Build your woodenware

Aspiring beekeepers handy with tools can put their woodworking skills to good use. DIY bottom boards, candy boards, robbing screens, and bee boxes will cut startup costs significantly.

5. Assemble kits yourself

If you don’t back your abilities to construct homemade hive components, consider buying unassembled kits. They’re a useful midpoint between DIY and buying ready-assembled hives. These hives and frames usually come pre-drilled, so you just need to follow the construction instructions, like an IKEA cupboard.

6. Buy local

Buying local supports nearby businesses and reduces shipping costs. We recommend sourcing local overwintered honey bees if possible. They have adapted to the local climate, pests, diseases, and foraging conditions.

7. Trade goods

If you’ve got something to offer, try bartering with beekeepers to slash startup costs. Spare land is ideal for offering to commercial apiaries for hive placement. Put the proceeds towards establishing hives. Once the bee yard is established, sell resources like honey and beeswax to help pay for ongoing costs like extra supers and chemical treatments.

8. Shop frugally

If there’s time to spare, hold off buying everything until a sale pops up. Black Friday is an excellent opportunity to save, but other online and physical stores also have great deals. If you’re in a remote location, look for free shipping deals or take advantage of Amazon Prime.

9. Buy In bulk

By purchasing bulk quantities, reduce the per-unit cost of items like supers, frames, and foundations. Bigger orders often include free shipping.

10. Make the hive stand

Hive stands must be raised off the ground, but a pallet or cinder blocks are fine for milder climates. In areas where it snows, you’ll need a stand that keeps the hive high enough to avoid snow underneath. Making a basic stand using leftover wood is a cheap option.

11. Protective gear

Protective gear doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You could make your own bee suit or look at alternatives.

12. Use everyday toolshed items

A beekeeper without a hive tool is like a painter without a brush. But in a pinch, you could use a screwdriver or small crowbar for prying. Swiss Army Knives are okay for loosening frames, separating supers, and cutting small branches for swarms. A fillet knife may be suitable for removing burr comb, but watch your fingers!

13. Catch a swarm

Bees are one of the biggest expenses for a beekeeper to get established. Reduce this cost to zero by catching a swarm. First-timers are best to buy their first bees, but it is a feasible idea if you have a mentor to offer advice. 

14. Buy used equipment

Secondhand equipment is easy to find, but diseases and pests are easily transferred. Be sure to thoroughly clean and sanitize everything before introducing any bees. 

15. Use foundationless frames

As the bee yard expands, so does the need for frame foundations. They give the hive a helping hand, meaning the colony doesn’t have to build all its comb from scratch. But foundations aren’t essential. Instead, use a small strip of foundation. 

16. Feeders

Feeders are an easy DIY component of the hive. Half-fill a zip-lock bag with sugar syrup before squeezing out any air and sealing the top. Freezer bags also do the trick, but attach a rubber band around the top. Get the details on feeding bees here.

17. Join a club

Clubs provide the ultimate path to low-cost beekeeping knowledge. You may also be able to borrow a honey extractor, eliminating a considerable cost from your budget.

18. Start Small

We recommend at least two hives from the outset, in case one colony doesn’t make it. But if funds are limited, begin with one hive. That halves the cost of woodenware and bees, delivering a substantial saving.

19. Group buy

If you know others interested in beekeeping, combine your initial order to save money. Some clubs will organize group orders, another compelling reason to join today.

20. Choose a top bar

Vertical modular hives are widespread in the industry, but they require more parts meaning they cost more. Top bar and Warre hives are both easier to manage and typically cost less.  

21. Apply for agriculture programs

Some States offer grants or agricultural exemptions to encourage beekeeping. This benefits the region with increased bee activity that improves crop pollination.

22. Apply for scholarships

Colleges, beekeeping organizations, and suppliers occasionally offer scholarships for aspiring beekeepers. Search for any that you qualify for, and try your luck!

23. Grow bee-friendly plants

Planting perennials and shrubs that flower in late fall and winter will provide your colony with a much-needed food source. While these plants may cost money up-front, you’ll save on feeding costs each shoulder season for years to come.

Similar Posts