My boyfriend Pete has been keeping bees now for two years. He's always wanted to do it - he grew up with a neighbour who had bees and his interest grew from there. It's been tough on beekeepers in the past 5 years or so here on Vancouver Island - many beekeepers lost 90% of their bees last winter alone - but first year bees seem to have a higher survival rate. Pete's did just fine. He's been taking good care of them (treating appropriately for the mites which are the main downfall of hives) so hopefully their second winter will be a good one.
Today he sold a TON (almost literally!) of honey at the Metchosin Market. Although it was raining for the first part of the day, that didn't stop people from buying up the sweetness. The label for his honey is above, it's based on a small painting I did last year with the idea that I would use it for this purpose. I might paint a few more little bee paintings, as he has a few different varieties of honey (wildflower, fireweed, honeycomb) and a different painting could be used for each variety.
But don't think you can make money at this venture, at least in the beginning on a small scale! Pete might just break even this season - all the equipment to get started is not cheap. And if he works out his hourly rate based on labour, he's probably making $0.20/hr. It's a labour of love. However, he is a honey addict so at least he can fuel his addiction. Honey doesn't last long in this house!