Creating A Beekeeping Business Plan

Updated: 30th April 2021

Here are some factors to consider if you are drawing up a beekeeping business plan (and a free template for you to use), 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.

PDF Template
At the bottom of this page, you'll find a PDF business plan template you can adapt and use for your own purposes. 

Below, we will first look at the following topics:

  • Initial considerations
  • Income routes
  • Finances (costs, sales, cash flow, profit & loss)
  • Researching your beekeeping business plan (What? Who? Where? How? Why?)
  • Marketing
  • SWOT analysis
  • General administration
  • Tips

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 can have confidence, minimize your risks and have a genuine chance of success.

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 (see 'apiary design' - where will they forage, how will you protect the hives against disease, predators, even vandalism, the elements and so on);
  • Understand any legal consideration in starting an apiary.

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.

comb honey on a plate, with honey oozing out of the wax comb.

However, whether you decide to focus only on being a honey producer, 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 beeswax

  • Selling services, such as pollination.  Investigate it carefully, because selling pollination services can be a tricky business these days if the crops are treated with pesticides such as the infamous neonicotinoids
  • Selling beekeeping courses at your apiary or online, CDs and books you have written yourself.

  • If you have land, would you be interested in running a nursery or cut flower business alongside your beekeeping business?  You'll need to think about flowers for the bees to forage on anyway, and having visited such a business, there was a huge amount of flower available for bees, despite cutting. 
  • Selling beekeeping supplies, such as bee hives, items of equipment, or beekeeping suits and hats.
  • Are you able to build a brand, such that you could offer other 'add ons' for sale from an online shop - from honey sticks to socks, who knows?

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.  In addition, check whether you would have to sign an agreement forbidding you to set up a business entirely of your own.

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, honey bees including nucs, beekeeping equipment and clothing, premises, insurances), building a website and hosting 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 considering giving up a regular, paid job in order to run a beekeeping business, and if so, for how long can you survive - including in a poor year?
  • Will you need to adapt your land in some way, to cater for bees on your property?  If so, be sure to factor in the costs and timings.
    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 for 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?  (Bottles or jars and labels for jars).


  • 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?  Would your prefer to sell bulk honey to a major buyer or network? 
  • 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 sell and promote your products. 

  • You can sell directly to the public at the local food market, promote on social media for a low cost.  In some city shopping centers, it's possible to purchase a one day trading permit, and set up a stall selling produce - but check local regulations, especially around permits, food selling, pitch size etc. After that, assess whether it is worth trying out a stand for a day or a few days.

  • Look out for honey festivals, and find out whether you can get a stand to promote your goods and business.  Remember to look into the cost and find out how many people are likely to attend.

  • You can also sell via specialist networks or to major buyers and brand owners, who already have established channels to sell their products in stores.  Such companies may purchase your honey and apply their own label to the product.

  • Social media can be a great way to promote your goods, and advertising can be cost effective - but see what you can achieve without the advertising first!  Remember that you can also use You Tube to advertise goods on the existing videos of other you tubers, to send potential customers directly to your website.  You can make a few videos and upload them to generate interest too, of course!  Think about your message and target market very carefully to ensure you waste as little money as possible.

  • Can you call in favors 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.

  • Remember to think about your target purchaser and the impact this may have on your labelling and packaging.  For example, if you are targeting the gift market, your presentation might be different than if you are targeting the gourmet food market. Don't underestimate the power of packaging and label design

  • Consider also setting up an online store via Amazon and/or Ebay - this does not prevent you from having a store on your own website.  The point about Amazon and Ebay are that they are widely trusted.  You could also investigate other platforms, such as Etsy.  You then need to explore ways to increase your visibility through these channels.

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 and packaging.



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 you file any important paperwork on time, such as taxes and any legal documents, to avoid fines.
  • Be an organized beekeeper, for example, with an appropriate hive painting system.

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.  Also, look out for hidden clauses on lease agreements - especially clauses that are easily missed in the body of the test, or at the very end (or both).   Go through the lease agreement with a fine-toothed comb, and check again before signing to ensure no unwanted clauses have crept in to the agreement.
  • Check the regulations with regard to beekeeping in your area. 
  • Is there sufficient forage for the bees?
  • 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 a PDF download (please note, it will open in a new window) to help you get started, but ensure that you add any legal considerations applicable to your own country.  


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