How to Choose the Right Equipment for Your Bee Farm

How to Choose the Right Equipment for Your Bee Farm

Table of Contents - Choosing Equipment for Your Bee Farm

How to choose the right equipment for your bee farm is essential for success. Hands down, the equipment can make or break you. This is largely down to there being so many different types of bee farming gear available, so it can be genuinely overwhelming to try and sort through all of it and understand what’s really needed for your operation. Bee farming equipment is something you will give considerable time and thought to throughout the growth of your business so equipment testing and selection is more of an evolving process rather than a definitive decision factor.

But we’ll get to that, let’s go 🙂

You have most of what you need for your bee farm

Moving from a hobbyist to a professional beekeeper can be a daunting task. There are many decisions to make, including what equipment to buy, when, and who from. But at this stage, it’s critically important not to overthink your equipment needs when making the transition, it’s easy to get carried away in the excitement of a new business!

With some beekeeping time and experience already under your belt, you’ll have the essentials covered, so don’t be overly eager to part with your cash. As you progress on your journey you can add more of the tools you need as you need them. 

You’ll often hear such advice from seasoned veterans, the “don’t run before your walk” talk is something you’ve probably something you’ve already heard. Don’t take on too much too soon, upscaling quickly will likely backfire as you struggle to adjust to the work and time commitment needed. We’ve seen this strategy put many brilliant beekeepers off the idea of their bee farm very quickly.

You will change your mind on bee farm equipment

If like me, you’re new to running a business, you’ll be discovering how much thinking can be done over the most menial tasks and processes. Running a bee farm, like any business, is a matter of continuously solving problems. Such as:

How will I transport my bees?
What smoker fuels should I be using, how much will I need, and how will I store it?
How will I carry around my equipment?
How many suits do I need?
What gloves should I use? (You should use these)

And the list goes on. I thought that once I had a plan and knew what I needed and how I needed to do it, everything would fall into place. A shopping list will emerge and I can get to the fun buying bit. But it turns out that decision-making in business is a constant process, and my needs have changed a lot since I first started. As my business has grown, I’ve had to re-evaluate my equipment needs regularly. 

What worked for me in the beginning certainly isn’t adequate now, and like me, you’ll have to be open to making changes as your business evolves. The takeaway here is not about keeping up with trends and technologies but instead how to improve and build on your processes, improving and removing resistance in areas that are holding you back, and perfecting your core offerings.

Avoid the unnecessary and prevent equipment bloat

The biggest mistake new bee farmers make is buying too much equipment. Buy only what you need and avoid the headaches

My wife has her head screwed on and she regularly dispenses this advice to new beekeepers and those keen to build and scale bigger. It’s perfect advice, it’s so easy to get caught up in the idea of getting hold of all the equipment you need and might need in the future, but resist the urge!

It’s important to remember that as a new bee farmer, your time will be spent mostly on learning the ropes of your new business and evolving it in a manageable way. You won’t have time to make use of all that extra kit which will likely sit collecting dust. From having made the mistake myself I can tell you, that it will quickly become a hindrance rather than a help. Think storage. It’s much better to get by with the bare essentials in the beginning and upgrade as your business grows. I’d argue that I run my business with the bare essentials at all times, selling off anything I don’t need and streamlining as much as possible.

Financial benefits of purchasing equipment slowly

I also have the benefit that my wife has an impressive career as a business accountant and the model we’ve adopted when it comes to spending and expenses is a best practice approach, particularly for small businesses looking to grow. Introducing, the “Bee Farm Business Case”.

Whilst it can be an arduous task building a business case for every piece of capital expenditure (even more arduous when trying to convince a spouse), it’s a sure-fire way to avoid taking on unnecessary equipment that just isn’t needed. This way of thinking will also help you to focus on what is important and what is going to generate a return on investment in the shortest timeframe. Beekeeping is very much a year-on-year focus so this short-term focus will be beneficial and building a strong business case will hone your business instead of bloating it.

For some more pointers on the financials, you should read 6 Thoughts to Start Your Bee Farm Accounts.

Does careful spending stifle innovation?

“You have to spend money to make money.” I’ve heard this so many times when speaking with other beekeepers and business owners, and there is truth in it. To a certain extent. You do need to spend money on your business in order to grow it. But that doesn’t mean going out and buying the latest and greatest gadget or 10 times the number of hives that you’ll never fill, especially if it’s not going to have a direct impact on your bottom line in the upcoming season. 

Business owners are responsible for generating income and such a strategy can have the opposite effect. Scattershot business ideas and purchasing will turn up a great idea once in a while, but it doesn’t beat picking apart that idea and testing it out before you dive in. Be innovative through great ideas that stand up to scrutiny, not by investing, hoping and getting lucky.

To wrap things up

Perhaps you were hoping to find a shopping list here? But honestly, that really wouldn’t help you. Equipment purchasing is a strategy, not a checklist. When it comes to bee farming equipment, it’s important to remember that you don’t need everything right away and my business shopping list isn’t likely to meet your specific needs. Start with the essentials and upgrade as your business grows. 

As you start to experience that growth, be mindful of how much you’re spending on equipment and make sure that each purchase is worth the investment, it’s worth a little extra time and thought just to be sure that you’re not storing unnecessary junk. Finally, focus on what you’re good at and perfect your core offerings before moving on to the next stage. By following these tips and keeping this mindset, you’ll be sure to choose the right bee farming equipment for your needs.