So what does the average honey bee cost?

When your three-pound package of bees arrives, aren’t you just dying to know how many bees are in there? You know your cost per pound, but what is your cost per bee?

According to The ABC & XYZ of Bee Culture, European honey bee workers on an empty stomach number about 4000 to the pound (or about 8800 bees per kilogram). On the other hand, well-fed workers—which you hope you are getting—number about 3000 bees per pound (or roughly 6600 bees per kilogram).

Since some bees in your package are probably well-fed and some are hungry we can split the difference and call it 3500 bees per pound. Multiplied by three, this gives you 10,500 bees per three-pound package—most of which will die over the next few weeks. So let’s say you paid $75/package. Your cost per bee—dead or alive—is about $75/10500 or 0.71 cents per bee.

However, this calculation does not consider the mated queen that came with the package. So let’s deduct $20 for her and recalculate. Your price per semi-well fed worker is now $55/10500 bees or 0.52 cents. Two for a penny . . . such a deal.

But this calculation doesn’t consider any postage, cage fees, or taxes . . . and my cost estimates are based on 2010 prices. Those girls are getting pretty spendy, so you better take very good care of them!

Rusty

Comments

Beekeeping
Reply

Rusty,
Check the above. I think it should be 0.0071 and 0.0052. Which would be 2 for a penny.

Rusty
Reply

It comes out to 0.0071 dollars/bee or 0.71 cents per bee. I converted dollars to cents without writing out all the steps. If you think of $75 as 7500 cents then divide by 10,500 you get 0.71, which is cents/bee. We end up in the same place, which is two for a penny.

jess
Reply

I don’t want to think about this when there are dead bees frozen on my landing board !!

Lisa
Reply

Much cheaper still if you go out in spring and collect swarms! Add in the husband who builds hives for me, and save even more. ;-)

In fact, I’ve never bought a package of bees. The whole thing seems complicated and a bit strange to me as a result. I’m learning more about it, but intend to keep on with the swarms when possible. Gotta learn to split a hive next spring, though…missed capturing a swarm in my own hives because I didn’t know how to do a split even when I knew it was a good idea.

Rusty
Reply

Lisa,

Splits are fun and they prevent you from donating your bees to some other cost conscious beekeeper just like you! I’ll write about my technique–maybe that will help.

joe
Reply

I’m just starting to learn about bees. How is a hive split and why?

Lisa
Reply

That would be SO awesome if you’d write about how to do a split! I’m not terribly far from you, down in SW Washington, so my time of year is probably similar for most things too.

Your blog is the only one I get in my email that I absolutely always read. :) In fact, 99% of the time, it’s the only one I read, period. So thank you!

Rick
Reply

You note, “well-fed workers—which you hope you are getting—number about 3000 bees per pound (or roughly 6600 bees per pound)”.

I believe that in the second notation “roughly 6600 bees per pound” you may have desires to say, “roughly 6600 bees per kilogram”.

Yes, i know, nit, nit, nit, pic, pic, pic…

Good information. Thanks for sharing!

Rusty
Reply

Rick,

Thank you so much for catching the error. You are absolutely right, of course! I fixed it.

Irene
Reply

Bees absolutely love the Blue Mist Spirea (also known as Dark Knight). Might be a good one for your very useful list. Thank you for that!

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