How Much Does Beekeeping Cost? Start-up Costs Explained

How much does beekeeping cost

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I don’t think that I can think of a single hobby that involves zero start-up costs. I mean, even if you want to take up something as seemingly free as walking, you’ll probably still want to buy yourself a comfortable pair of hiking boots.

Where beekeeping is concerned, there’s a bit of equipment you’ll need to purchase to get started. Not to mention that there are ongoing costs involved. So, how much does beekeeping cost?

Buying all of the necessary equipment and your bees may cost anywhere between $400 and $700. The ongoing costs of maintaining your hive each year are, on average, around $270. However, this will vary between hives.

Of course, you could shop around to get bargains if you wanted to start the hobby for less. But I would always recommend buying the best quality equipment that you can afford.

The Cost Of Education

Beekeeping can be quite a lot of work. While the hours involved are not huge (around 40 hours per year), the dedication you’ll need is a different story. This is a hobby that involves a lot of learning and up to 70% of all new beekeepers give up in the first year because of the challenges involved.

If you don’t want to waste your money then I’d recommend taking an initial investment in beekeeping education. It can be tempting to dismiss this idea since it’s just more money to spend but in the long run, you’ll thank yourself.

Anyone that doesn’t get themselves clued up on beekeeping before getting started may well find that their colony doesn’t even survive the first year.

There are introductory beekeeper classes available and these may cost somewhere in the region of $45 to $75, depending on where you go. Alternatively, there are lots of books about beekeeping that come in for a much lower price. Some of the most expensive ones I’ve seen are around only around $20, so it’s not a massive investment.

There are beekeeping associations around the country and these often have open days for the public to learn more about the hobby. In a lot of cases, these associations offer mentorship for people who are keen to get into apiary. You’ll normally have to pay to join the club but membership fees don’t usually exceed around $30.

Of course, if you really don’t want to spend any money then there are blogs, YouTube videos, and beekeeping forums online. However, I would err on the side of caution when accessing this content. While we aim to provide the most accurate and up-to-date beekeeping information, there is some online media that isn’t as accurate. Therefore, I’d only ever recommend going with the most reliable sources.

Some recommended Beekeeping books

Buying Your Beekeeping Equipment

You can’t start beekeeping without a hive and other basic equipment. This is where a lot of your initial investment will go. Of course, the main thing here is to get your hands on a hive which will typically cost between $120 and $200.

On top of this, you’re going to need other basic beekeeping equipment such as a hive tool, a bee brush and a smoker. These items can cost anywhere between a few dollars and up to around $40 for a smoker. As I mentioned earlier, it is possible to shop around and get a better price but I’d be mindful that you don’t end up buying poor-quality items that you’ll only need to replace.

If you don’t want to buy everything separately, then there are beekeeper starter kits out there. The cost of these can vary greatly and could be anything up to $400. However, they’re great for beginners as they not only have everything you’ll need to get started, but many also come with educational literature such as a beekeeping book.

Once you have everything you need, it’s time to start thinking about buying your bees. I cannot stress enough how important it is to only buy bees from a reputable breeder. This will ensure that you get a gentle and non-aggressive colony which may not be the case if you buy elsewhere. Aggressive bees are a surefire way to put any new beekeeper off and will spoil your experience.

You can buy a package of bees that typically includes between two and three pounds of workers as well as a queen. These packages may cost anywhere up to $175, however, they will need to be shaken into the hive and established using sugar water.

If you’re looking for an already established colony then you may choose to buy a nucleus. It’ll include the bees, a queen, frames that are all at different stages, pollen and nectar. However, these are a little more expensive going up to around $200.

Finally, when considering your start-up equipment, I’d highly recommend getting some sort of mite treatment. The varroa mite can be a real pain for beekeepers but there are treatments out there that can aid in their prevention. These treatments can cost as little as $20 or could be ten times that much.

Recommended Beekeeping starter sets

Buying Your Protective Gear

If you’ve been watching YouTube videos, you may have noticed that a lot of beekeepers maintain their hives without wearing protective gear. But keep in mind that these are very experienced apiarists. As a beginner, you’re definitely going to want to invest in some protection otherwise there’s a real risk of getting stung.

You can buy a full bee suit or if you prefer, there are also bee jackets on the market. You will also need a veil which offers protection to the eyes and face. Although, there are plenty of bee suits that have a built-in veil. A good set of gloves will protect the hands.

Different people want different levels of protection and what you choose will impact your start-up costs. If you’re looking for an average bee suit, veil and gloves, then you might pay in the region of $100. Of course, if you’re taking up this hobby with a friend, spouse, or relative then you’ll have to factor in the cost of more than one set of protective gear.


Getting started with beekeeping doesn’t come for free. If you want to take part in this hobby, there are a few things you’ll need to buy; a hive, equipment, protective gear and of course, bees. So, how much does beekeeping cost?

Most beginners will spend anywhere between $400 and $700 getting everything they need. The type of bee package you choose, which protective gear, and what educational resources you buy will all impact your initial costs.

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