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How Many Hives Do Commercial Beekeepers Have?




How Many Hives Do Commercial Beekeepers Have

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Before starting commercial beekeeping one of the major considerations is how much hives to get started. We also try to get ideas from other beekeepers who are already in this field. So, how many hives do commercial beekeepers have?

If we can learn the average number of hives for commercial beekeeping, we can easily set our goal before starting our commercial beekeeping journey.

That’s what I am going to help you today. You will learn the following from this post.

  • What Is Commercial Beekeeping?
  • How Much Hives On Average Do Commercial Beekeepers Have?
  • And How Do You Make Money As A Commercial Beekeeper?




Who Is Called A Commercial Beekeeper?

A beekeeper who keeps bees for making money through them is called a commercial beekeeper. Usually, commercial beekeepers have large apiaries. Above 100 to a few thousand hives may a commercial beekeeper can have.

More precisely the aim of beekeeping to make money can be considered as commercial beekeeping. The person involved in it is called a commercial beekeeper.

People also keep bees as a hobby. In the case of hobbies, the main purpose is not to make money through them. But still, you can make money by selling honey and bee products, without having a commercial apiary.

In commercial beekeeping, there is a large no. of hives per apiary. In general case, it is usually 2 to 6 hives per apiary.

Commercial Beekeeping Vs Beekeeping As A Hobby




Differences Between Commercial Beekeeping Vs Beekeeping As A Hobby?

You can distinguish commercial beekeeping and beekeeping as a hobby from the following points of view.

Consideration Commercial Beekeeping Beekeeping As A Hobby
Size Of Apiary Usually 20 to 35 hives per apiary Not more than 10 hives per apiary
No. Of Hives A few hundred to a few thousand Usually less than 50 hives in total
Money Making Goal Mandatory Not mandatory but have options
No. of people involvement A large group of peoples Usually, 1 to 2 persons
Apiary Type Permanent Or Mobile Apiary Permanent


We can say commercial beekeeping involves large-scale beehive maintenance. So, a large group of people are mandatory for hive maintenance.

But a single person or somebody who may be with his/her fiance can start beekeeping as a hobby. They would not require a large no. of hives. They can start just from one hive. My recommendation is to start with 2 hives.




So, How Many Hives Do Commercial Beekeepers Have?

In the United States, commercial beekeepers have on average 350 to 500 hives. In fact, some commercial beekeeping associations, having large no. of people involved, have more than 2,000 hives. That’s insane!

How many hives do commercial beekeepers have on average
P.C. Edward Terrana Location: California, USA


Though it seems insane, it is hugely profitable. The math is simple, the more people involved and the more space you have, the more no. of hives you can have. Also, more no. of hives for commercial beekeeping means more revenue will be generated.



In the United Kingdom, usually, commercial beekeepers have around 250 hives on average.

Whereas in Asian regions commercial beekeepers have 100 to 400 hives on average. The number is less for Asian regions, due to a shortage of knowledge and the unavailability of modern beekeeping tools.

This number can vary for different regions. But on average you can say commercial beekeepers have a few hundred to a few thousand hives.

Without having any prior knowledge you can’t go with a large no. of hives. You should go with a proper plan to start making money through beekeeping.

You should pick the right spot to set your apiary. Then learn how to manage them and come up with a proper plan. If your plan goes wrong it probably going to be costly for you.




How Many Beehives To Start Making Money?

It is best to start from 10 to 20 hives first. If things go alright you can increase the no. of hives to up to 300 in 1 year. Then you can gradually increase the number of hives each year.
I have started my beekeeping journey just from one hive. Now I have 300+ hives. I am not single-handedly running my commercial beekeeping. There are 12 persons involved in it.
My starting wasn’t for money-making purposes. I have started beekeeping as a hobby. There are definitely so many ups and downs.
With time I have learned more and more about my bees. Then I converted my hobby into a business. Yeap, still my only aim is not to make money. I always provide the best to my bees. Then their excess production helps me to make money.
So, you can understand it is possible to make money starting from 1-2 beehives. Obviously, if you start from this less amount of hives, it will take a lot of time to start making considerable money.
Before starting commercial beekeeping you must take a course to gather more information. You must consider some factors to select the no. hives to get started for making money.
  1. Your Region: If you are living in a location where most of the time of the year the environment is harsh, you may not go with more than 20 hives at the beginning. If your area has a good weather conditions maximum times, you can even go with 100 hives. A bee-friendly weather is considered not too cold and not too hot.
  2. How Much Lands Do You Have: Obviously you require a large no. of space for a large no. of hives. Each beehive will have on average 20-25 inches on both sides. Also, you have to keep at least an 8-inch gap between consecutive hives.
  3. No. Of People: If you have large people you can go with a large no of hives.
  4. Demands Of Bee Products: It is a crucial factor to be considered. If you have a large apiary but there is not much demand for bee products in your region, it might not be worth going with a large no. of hives.
  5. Availability Of Modern Beekeeping Tools: If you have an excess of modern beehive monitoring tools, you will be able to easily manage large no. of hives.
You should consider these facts before selecting no. of hives to start commercial beekeeping. It is better to consult with a local beekeeper in your region.
My recommendation is to go with 10 to 50 hives for a full-time money-making beekeeping business. Also, make sure to employ more people for better hive maintenance. If you have 4 to 5 people at the beginning and enough space, you can go with up to 100 hives to start making money.

Common Ways To Make Money Through Commercial Beekeeping

You have started commercial beekeeping as a full-time work, how do you make money? Is selling honey is the only way to make money through commercial beekeeping?
No, obviously not. There are a lot of different ways that commercial beekeepers use to make money.
Ways To Make Money Through Commercial Beekeeping
Followings are the common ways to make money through commercial beekeeping.
  • From Excess Honey: Keep the honey on the hive, that your bees need to survive winter. Then extract the extra honey for commercial purposes.
  • Selling Wax: You can also sell wax and candle produced from wax.
  • Selling Bee Products: You can make different bee products from honey and wax and sell them. Famous bee products are lip balm, beeswax wraps, candles, honeycomb, royal jelly, etc.
  • Bee Pollen: Bee pollen are very nutritious for human and pets. Bee pollen is widely used for allergic treatment for dogs and other animals.
  • Providing Pollination Services: Commercial beekeepers that have mobile apiaries, also make money from farmers by providing pollination services.
  • Selling Nucs: You can produce new nuc and sell it to other beekeepers.
  • Rearing And Selling Queens: Sometimes beekeepers have to purchase a queen in a cage to requeen a queenless hive or other purposes. So, you can raise 2 queens within each hive. Put one queen in a cage that you are going to sell.
There are plenty of other ways to make money through commercial beekeeping. When you start your journey as a commercial beekeeper, you will automatically be able to explore new ways to make money from your bees with time.
The cost of beekeeping is a vital factor to be considered. If you are willing to invest more money, you will get more returns from beekeeping. You just have to use that money in the right manner.
Selecting the right type of honey bees for beekeeping is also vital for making money. Because some bee species have the specialty to produce excess honey compared to others. So, you should select the most suitable one for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many hives do most beekeepers have?

Most beekeepers have 10 to 25 hives. In the case of commercial beekeeping, most have over 400 hives.

Can you make a lot of money beekeeping?

If you are a full-time beekeeper having over 300 hives, it is expected you will be able to make a decent amount of money. The amount of money you can earn depends on your planning and investment of people and resources.

What is the most profitable part of beekeeping?

The most profitable part is increasing pollination near the beehives. If your apiary is placed inside a crop field, it will increase crop production in your region. You can also provide pollination services to local farmers for money.

Final Words And References

So, now you know how many hives on average commercial beekeepers have. As the number is different for different regions. You should select the optimal number of hives to start your beekeeping journey.
Go with multiple hives but not too many. If you want to make a full-time money-making apiary, you should start at least 20 hives. With time you will be able to increase the number of hives.
You should assign not more than 30 hives/person. So, the more employees you have for your apiary the more hive you can have.
Start from an optimal number of hives to mitigate risks. Then gradually increase the number. Sometimes you may lose your bees, they may swarm away. Just don’t panic. Losing bees is common in beekeeping.
Sometimes there can be mite attacks too. Whenever you face a problem, make sure to contact local beekeepers and beekeeping associations in your region.


Following are the references and research conducted on bees that might be helpful for you.

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