Commercial Only: Cost of production

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Founder Member
Semi Commercial
Have heard the figure that it's supposed to cost $400 a year to run a hive. I think that might be from the good old days when honey was gold and expenses were not something anyone worried about. People were also prepared to spend quite a bit of money just to get a few extra kg's.

Now though, a lot of people and certainly me, are cutting expenses to the bone. I'm wondering what people think the real cost of producing a kg of honey is.

Without giving all my information away, I can run through some rough figures, as expenses apply to me. Years ago I spent the extra money and bought all ETan boxes, and put high quality exterior grade house paint on them. That, plus plastic frames and durable bottom boards mean I have not had to spend anything much on equipment for several years, just some replacement queen excluders. I've also been trying to reduce hive numbers as I'm supposedly retired, and am down to about 330.

Site rental I give them some honey, last year I spent just under $1,000 on sugar, and used around $6,000 on mite treatments. AFB levy also. Other than that it's my time, and my vehicle. A beekeeper employing staff would have to pay wages, but that's not me. All up I'm sure my expenses are way under $400 a hive. Honey crop was down, I could have got more if I wanted to spend more, but as sales of honey were uncertain I sacrificed some production to keep costs down, I got a tad over 30 KG's a hive, as I left a lot on instead of buying sugar.

So all up I think it can be done for a lot under $400 a hive, if some productivity is sacrificed. Be interested to hear some rough figures from others.

Not a competition who is the cheapest though, high expenses are viable, if you are spending a dollar to make a dollar.


Founder Member
Nelson/Tasman District
We are in the same boat as you @Alastair .
No staff just the two of us.

haven’t bought gear in ages as we have enough hanging around especially after losing 200+ hives when we used oxalic strips one winter !

synthetic treatments are a big cost and diesel.
site rental is honey apart from forestry sites.

we used to harvest early honey before Christmas then our main crop in February then our last crop end of March we now only harvest our main crop because at $3-4 kg for non manuka and all the costs involved in harvesting extracting and testing theres no point in taking it off.

So our per hive cost would be well under $400
Bay of Plenty
If I only do Kiwi pollination, my hives do 2 kiwi pollination, the first 1 pays all the costs, the 2nd one is my income. I can exist happily on that.
But that's a business with no debt and all the gear needed to exist.
If I'm chasing honey(manuka) then the costs can go very high, but the reward can also be very high.
Semi Commercial
We are pretty much in the same boat as you Frazz, Alastair we have plenty of gear due to having and making a lot three years a go, have cut out a lot of non paying rental sites, poor producing or sites to far away,
we took off very little honey last year, boxes we took off weren't extracted but put on autumn splits,
we do every thing our selfs so costs are low, way below 400,
we are now doing some thing like about 600 ks per hive circuit, strips being very dear and just a bout to go up again, but still wont be using the oxy strips as a autumn treatment again, may try a spring one this year,
honey season so far has been really so in some place's, other place's bolting along,

Fazz we are doing the same this year, no early extract one main one in a bout 3/4 weeks,