Honeybees are one of the most important insects on the planet. About one third of the foods we eat – more than 100 different species of fruit, vegetable, nuts, and seeds – are partially or completely dependent on honeybees for pollination – amounting to $15 billion worth of produce every year in the United States alone. Honeybees are also major pollinators for tens of thousands of wild plant species around the world.
Unfortunately, honeybee numbers are in sharp decline around the world thanks to a mysterious problem called Colony Collapse Disorder. Curiously, Colony Collapse Disorder does not seem to hit organic beekeepers as hard as conventional ones, so one answer to the honeybee crisis may be an increase in the numbers of small-scale organic beekeepers!
Bees are easy and inexpensive to keep, so if you’ve been considering getting a hive, there’s never been a better time!
Organic beekeeping also offers a great green home business opportunity! In addition to doing your part to save the world’s most precious insect, you can also make money in your own backyard.
Cool Organic Beekeeping Business Opportunities
There are a number of different income opportunities for a beekeeping business, including:
- The most popular (and delicious!) product of bees is honey. Organic honey or honeycomb is better for bees, better for consumers, and fetches a higher price! There is also a thriving market in many regions for raw local honey. Honey has been recognized for thousands of years for its gentle health-promoting and medicinal properties as a moisturizer, mild antibiotic, and more. In recent years, with allergy rates on the rise, many consumers swear by raw local honey, which can help build up immunity to common local pollen allergens.
- There are a number of value-added product opportunities with honey, including mead, honey wine, flavored honey, and baked goods.
- Beeswax can be made into a wide variety of different products, from eco-friendly beeswax candles to non-toxic children’s art supplies such as beeswax crayons and modeling wax.
- Like raw local honey, there has been renewed interest in the health food market for bee pollen, which was used in ancient Egyptian and Chinese medicine to promote health and vitality. Royal Jelly, a secretion used to feed developing queens, is also believed to have some medicinal properties.
- With numbers of amateur beekeepers on the rise, there is a growing market for beehives and and other beekeeping supplies, including bees themselves, especially supplies suitable for organic and natural beekeepers, such as top-bar style hives. Another opportunity is running workshops or classes for beginning beekeepers, and beekeepers wishing to switch over to organic methods.
- A great opportunity for experienced bee handlers is bee control. Honeybees sometimes swarm or nest in undesirable places, and rather than poison them as a traditional pest control technician might, experienced beekeepers can generally capture these swarms safely and transplant them to a more appropriate location.
Because honeybees require a steady supply of fresh pollen and nectar throughout the growing season, beekeeping businesses combine very easily with a number of other small-scale agricultural businesses, including cut or dried organic flowers, organic herbs, orchards, and market gardening.
Three Organic Beekeepers Who Are Saving the Bees and the Earth
Three Sisters Farms, located in Essex, Connecticut, sells raw honey that is certified naturally grown and produced using organic methods. Three Sisters also offers pure beeswax candles, honey-based lip balms, hand creams, and soaps, and other natural products.
Bennett Farms, in Fillmore, CA, produces high quality raw honey in a variety of unique flavors, including orange, avocado, eucalyptus, and cactus! Bennett’s commitment to the environment goes beyond its eco-friendly beekeeping methods – the farm’s store and tasting room is 100% solar powered! The farm also sells bee pollen, royal jelly, and propolis.
Big Island Bees, located in Kealakeua, HI, produces unique floral honeys from the tropical flowers of Hawaii, including the Ohi’a Lehua blossom, the Wilelaiki blossom, and the Macadamia blossom. Big Island Bee honey is certified organic and comes in a variety of gift baskets and other products.
Main Image Credit: botheredbybees