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!