The prices I am talking about in this post are appropriate for the Pacific Northwest, specifically Western Washington. Your mileage may vary depending on where you’re at.
Since the recommended minimum number of hives to start with is two, the math I’m going to use will reflect that. In some cases this means that I’m applying volume discounts for things like frames and foundation.
For frames I’m using wooden frames with wax coated plastic foundation.
For each hive I’ll need two deep bodies, three western honey supers, 40 deep frames and foundation sheets, 60 western frames and foundation sheets, a screened bottom board, a telescoping lid and an inner cover.
The cost for this setup in my area ranges between $200 and $300 per hive.
Total Hive Cost: $400-$600
Getting bees is pretty straight forward. You can readily get bee packages with a mated queen from any number of apiary supply stores or even from other beekeepers. Many beekeeping associations do large group orders of bee packages as well.
Rudy’s Note: A bee package is a simple box that has two screened sides, a feeder can, and a small cage to keep the queen segregated from the bees.
Packages come in 2, 3, and 4 pound sizes. The most commonly used package size around here is a 3 pound package, and I’m using that as my basis. Packages run between $80 and $100 each for a 3 pound package.
Total Bee Package Cost: $160 – $200
Tools and Clothing
Protective clothing options are rather wide open. You can get a jacket or a full suit, or even just a veil. For purposes of this post we’re going to get a jacket and a veil.
All told this stuff will cost us between $140 and $200
Total Tools and Clothes Cost: $140 – $200
Total First Year Start-up Costs
To offset some of this cost, you can try to sell the honey your bees make. A hive in this area makes anywhere from 0 to 130lbs of excess honey a year, with the average amount looking like around 50-90 lbs.
Local raw honey goes for about $11-$13 a pound around here, so the average hive around here should in theory generate anywhere from $550 to $1170, assuming you actually sell it all and don’t keep it.
Rudy’s Note: These numbers are awfully optimistic for a first year beekeeper. If I got any sort of decent haul then I’d be pretty psyched. Getting 80-90 lbs a hive would be amazing. I don’t expect to get that much!