Creating A Beekeeping Business Plan

Here are some factors to consider if you are drawing up a beekeeping business plan, whether you wish to become a honey producer, or are wanting to offer a variety of products and services related to beekeeping, honey bees and hives.  On the one hand, you may be able to earn a living from keeping bees, but like all businesses, there are potential pitfalls.

If you require a loan to help you get started, then you will need to demonstrate to the lender that you have thought about the business in detail.  Consider things from the lender’s perspective: if you were in his or her shoes, would you loan money to this new beekeeping business based on the plan and information you are being presented with?  

In addition, you need to work through the details yourself, so that you minimise your risks and have a genuine chance of success.

Below are some guidelines, and a link to a downloadable beekeeping business plan template (PDF) at the bottom.

Drawing Up A Beekeeping Business Plan – some initial considerations:

It sounds obvious, but.....are you an experienced beekeeper? 

If not, best get some experience first, and ensure you:

  • know what you are doing,
  • you are happy handling the bees,
  • you know what to do in a crisis,
  • you don’t suddenly discover you have a severe allergy to stings,
  • you have full knowledge of how to keep and provide for your bees (where will they forage, how will you protect the hives against disease, predators, even vandalism, the elements and so on).

How Can Beekeepers Earn Income From Keeping Bees?

You may have a firm idea already of how beekeeping is going to earn an income for you, but it's also worth trying to think outside the box, and look at offering a multiple range of products (and maybe even services), in order to build your income across the seasons.

However, whether you decide to focus only on being a honey producer business, or selling a wider range of product and services, you’ll need to estimate your potential earnings, and add these to your business plan.

Here are some ideas of what your business might include:

  • Selling honey
  • Selling other bee products, such as wax. 

  • Selling services, such as pollination or beekeeping tuition.  Note, selling pollination services can be a tricky business these days if the crops are treated with pesticides such as neonicotinoids, as the experience of beekeepers across the globe suggests.
  • Selling beekeeping courses at your apiary, or on line, CDs & books you have written yourself, wax, or will you begin selling beehives or other beekeeping equipment?

  • Selling other items, such manufacturing or being a distributor of beekeeping equipment, such as bee hives, or beekeeping clothing. or books or CDs you have written yourself, or even hives you yourself have built, such as top bar hives (construction kits and plans for these are increasingly available and sold).

Entrepreneurs such as Corwin Bell and his team sell detailed top bar hive plans as well as kits for the Golden Mean Ratio model,  and the plans were created by a professional architect.

Bell and his team also sell books, CDs on amazon, as well as a range of hive products.

In thinking about your business, put a great deal of thought into whether it is something you can start up as a hobby (perhaps whilst continuing with your day job), and build it from there.

As I write, I am aware that some large commercial honey sellers run training schemes whereby you can earn whilst you learn.  As far as I can make out, the salary is modest, but if you are especially keen, it may be a way for you to get valuable experience if that is what you need. 

However, do check first regarding whether or not you are then tied to supplying the company with honey etc for a set period of time, and whether this suits you, and also whether you are happy to supply honey in this way. 

Some beekeepers prefer to set up small-scale, organic practices, charging a premium for their products, selling directly to the public or specialist delicatessens.

A Beekeeping Business Plan Needs To Cover Finances: costs, sales, cash flow, profit & loss

Consider these costs:

  • Initial set up costs (hives, honeybees, beekeeping equipment, premises, insurances), building a website if needed and so on.
  • Product related costs & inventory, such as honey jars and labels.
  • General business running costs: travel, any items relating to the care of the bees, postage and packing, phone, rent, stationery etc. 
  • Will you spend any money on marketing, such as advertising honey or beekeeping courses in the local paper, or will you engage in internet advertising?  Be sure to build in a mechanism that allows you to assess the cost effectiveness of any marketing activity, if possible.
  • Cost of finance (interest and charges).
  • Also consider your home and family incomings and outgoings.  Are you considerign giving up a regular, paid job in order to run a beekeeping business, and if so, for how long can you survive?

You should calendarize these costs, and also add a realistic sales forecast as far as possible.  Although you will need it to go along to the bank or lender, forecasting is of course very difficult, and may need to be adjusted from time to time. 

How much, if you implement your marketing plan (we’ll get to that in a minute), could you sell on a monthly basis?  Itemize each activity: how much honey will you sell, how many courses will you fill etc.

Financial challenges can hit any business.

  • How will you cope with payment schedules?  For example, if you supply 200 jars of honey to a store, when will you be paid, and can you cope with late payments?  Cash flow is one of the major challenges to any business, but especially new ones.  Not being able to pay your bills because somebody didn’t pay you, can create misery and force businesses to close.
  • What is your profit margin?  Remember it needs to cover ALL of your costs, with enough to earn the income you need, and hopefully leave some for emergencies.

Researching Your Beekeeping Business

Find out as much as you can about the market, products, services, prices, your customers, relevant  law, prior to committing yourself.

Ask yourself the What? Who? Where? and How? Why? questions.

For example (no doubt, you can come up with more):


  • What are customers buying, what do they want and are there any unexploited niches you can fill??  Whatever you are selling, are there any legal or labelling requirements or standards?) 
  • What should the packaging look like?


  • Who is buying your products and how should they be approached, when, and what are their needs/wants? (think in terms of the public, retailers, wholesalers). 
  • At what prices are comparable bee products being sold in your area?  Are there many competitors? How much supply is there versus demand? Can you compete?


  • Where will the customers need to go to buy the products?  Internet? Shops? Market? Where will you reach them?
  • Where will you buy your own supplies from?


  • When will customers purchase from you, and how does this impact your business?  Do you have to warn customers in advance/how long do advanced booking periods need to be, and...
  • When will you be paid and when do you have to pay suppliers?


  • How will you persuade customers to buy and how will you generate awareness?  How often will your customers purchase from you?
  • How much will it all cost, and how much do you need to sell to create a viable beekeeping business?
  • How will your product be different?  For example, will yours be the only organic meadow honey in the area, or perhaps the only raw comb honey?


  • Why will anyone wish to buy your products?  Don’t be offended by this question.  This question is deliberately asked so that you think of things from your customer’s perspective.

Having considered these questions, what actions need to be taken, when, by whom and at what cost?

Marketing And Your Beekeeping Business Plan

There are many cost effective ways to promote your products. 

  • You can sell directly to the public at the local food market, promote on social media for a low cost.
  • Can you call in favours and assistance from friends, relatives and local business?
  • You can start a blog or website relatively cheaply, and you may be able to generate some free PR with your local newspaper.
  • If you are planning to distribute far and wide, you may wish to get your name out there generally, by teaming up with bloggers, on-line news sources and so on.  Find an interesting angle, something you can talk about in an engaging way.
  • Depending on what it is you sell, you may also consider joining an affiliate scheme, thus harnessing the power of people on the web to promote on your behalf - in exchange for a small percentage of the sale.  Check all the details before you sign up.
  • Consider also setting up an online store via Amazon - this does not prevent you from having a store on your own website.  The point about amazon is that it is widely trusted.  You then need to explore ways to increase yoru visibility through this channel.

A SWOT Analysis For A Beekeeping Business

It’s worth doing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) for your beekeeping business plan, as with any other business plan.

Make a list, and decide whether there are actions you can take.  Don’t run before you can walk, or over-stretch yourself, however.

Here are some examples (let me stress that, examples only!):


Lifelong experience of beekeeping – generations of beekeepers in the family.

How To Maximise

Use this in marketing, to talk about a caring family business with generations of expertise.  Customers are buying from people, not a faceless organisation.


Limited business experience of book keeping – only ever provided a few jars of honey for friends.

How to Minimise

Enrol on a small business course or book keeping course, buy a simple on-line software package, or check on line for suitable courses.  Check with the local council for free, helpful resources. 


Free access to 100 acres of organic farm and meadowland

 How to Exploit

(Depending on regulations in your country). Label the honey product ‘organic’ and 'meadow honey' or 'wildflower honey', and sell in to speciality organic food stores and delicatessens, with appropriate pricing.



How to Counter

Keep bees and hives in good condition, and practice high standards of beekeeping husbandry.

Insure hives against losses due to diseases.

General Administration

This is often forgotten, but.....

  • How will you manage the paperwork for paying taxes etc?  If you need assistance, you'll need to factor in the cost of that assistance.
  • Remember to keep comprehensive records, and in good order.  File receipts and paperwork.  Take copies of crucial documents.  Take back-up copies of any computer generated admin.
  • Have a visible calendar and/or diary to ensure to file any important paperwork on time, such as taxes and any legal documents, to avoid fines.

More Beekeeping Business Tips

Hopefully you will be able to keep your set up and business running costs to a minimum. 

  • With a bit of luck, you won’t be renting property, but if for any reason you must rent space, then try to ensure favourable terms and conditions.  Avoid arrangements that will be difficult to get out of, that demand penalties for early termination of agreements or very long notice periods.
  • Check the regulations with regard to beekeeping in your area.  Is there sufficient forage?
  • Keep on top of payments from customers, and be a good customer yourself.
  • Have more than one income stream if possible.


You can use the free beekeeping business plan template to help you get started, but ensure that you add any legal considerations applicable to your own country.   Download it here (opens a new window).


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Before You Start....

Considerations For Urban Beekeepers