With all the talk about bees, my love of honey, and the fact we put in fruit trees this year I have been thinking about getting bees. Problem is I don’t know much about them at all. The fact that they make honey, they pollinate plants, and they make a pleasant humming while doing so is about the extent of it. Oh, and when they sting it hurts like crazy.
I am not allergic to bees nor is anyone else in our family that we know of, immediate family that is. I have some uncles that are VERY allergic. Anyway, we shouldn’t have to worry about anything other than the pain of stings. I would really like to work with our local bee man for a couple of days at least. I’d like to know whether or not I can handle being around that many (something like 60,000 in a summer-time hive) bees. I don’t know if I can stay calm. I like to think I could but I don’t know.
So far my main deterrent, besides lack of knowledge, is the cost of equipment. A hive isn’t all that much in the grand scheme of things but being on a tight budget means those couple of hundred dollars have to be saved up. Right now I am much more concerned about getting a chainsaw so we can put up our firewood for the season. I am almost there on that one. I am very excited. In fact I might be able to go get my saw this weekend! 🙂
Once my saw is paid for, along with gas, oil, an extra chain, a sharpener, and earplugs, then I have half a hog to pay for. Firewood for heat, meat for the freezer, food for the pantry, then next spring will hopefully be the bees. I’ll need some straw for the chickens for winter insulation too but that won’t be much. $30-50 depending on when I get it, who I get it from, and how many bales I get.
Something I find kind of funny (not ha-ha funny but peculiar funny) is how many places you can find that say how cheaply you can do some of this stuff. While it is true that most of it doesn’t cost a ton of money you still have to think about every little aspect of it. Simply having chickens involves building a coop, getting feeders, getting a water container, scratch grains, layer feed, and the chickens themselves. Oh, and a heat lamp and paying for the power for that. Nothing in itself is a large amount of money, other than maybe your coop, but it quickly adds up if you are trying to do it all at once. Same goes for other animals. Even your pets cost a lot more than you realize if you start adding it up.
I also would like larger livestock. Fencing materials are needed. This includes; fencing pliers, post pounder, wire, staples, fence charger and power pack if we do electric, panels if we go that route, and posts of several varieties to choose from. The cheap stuff is the staples at a few dollars per hundred, the fencing pliers at about $20 and the post pounder at around $30. Then there are the nice to have but not required things like a t-post puller that runs closer to $50-100. None of the cost would be all that prohibitive if we were talking a small back yard. I have that and more. For my 25 acres with no cross fencing I am looking at about a 1/2 mile of wire for one strand. See how it all adds up quickly? Most fence chargers are around $150-200 depending on amount of power output and features. And all that is just for fencing. Not to mention yearly worming, trimming hooves, housing, hair care (depending on critter), and vet incidentals (it always seems the more expensive the animal the more vet bills they incur). If you have horses then you have tack and a tack room to add to that. And last but not least then you have winter hay and any grains or supplements you chose to feed.
Hmmmmm…Bees are looking better and better. Yes it is looking to be a couple hundred to get into for a hive and equipment and a starter swarm but after that there isn’t a lot to purchase. Jars for honey. A hot knife or two to harvest the honey and someplace to harvest the honey. Good thing my plan is to get bees next. Well, other than a few more chickens next spring. I never got around to it this spring and I don’t want to order 15 birds. Think of the damage to a garden that 15 would do! I’ll pick up two to four chicks next spring or I’ll pick up a couple from a gal I know that has had chicks hatching.
See all this crazy thought process? You get to see me trying to justify or talk myself out of or into critters. For now we seem to have worked out a decent arrangement; we pasture a friends calves for a bit of income and pasture management while they maintain fences and get lovely pasture for the summer. We don’t have to purchase a critter, which are pretty high-priced right now in this area, and we don’t have to winter anything here which means no hay to buy. With the income from the pasture I’ll look at buying bee equipment and/or fence supplies.