How To Build Bee Hives At $0.02 On The Dollar

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Thomas A. Edison

Thomas A. Edison

Beekeeping is the only enterprise I know of, where the entrepreneur can literally start with a hand saw and hammer and turn it into the American Dream.

I am attempting to do that very thing – though I’ll admit that I cheated by starting out with three hives and a few low end power tools. Nonetheless, with zero capital, I began making hives from old pallets.

This took a lot of work… and I had a lot of people telling me how they would have just spent the money and bought the equipment they needed. Of course that’s a fantastic idea – assuming you have that kind of disposable income. Consider this:

Sure we could buy it cheaper if we shopped around BUT TIME IS MONEY AND WE DON’T WASTE TIME TRYING TO SAVE MONEY! So at $460 x 100 hives is $46,000. If your Goal is 500 hives (like mine is) then that number goes up to $230,000. Feel free to whip out your checkbook at any time.


You could reduce that price a lot if you buy unassembled economy parts but that still requires a lot of labor for assemble and painting – AND TIME IS MONEY! The cost of this sort of hive will be around $115 plus bees (includes: Top, Bottom, 2 Deeps, & 2 Shallows).


If you are starting from nothing (like a friend of mine did) then you can even start with a swarm of wild bees.

  • Build the hive from pallet wood – $ cost of nails
  • Catch wild swarm with Lemon Grass Oil – oil cost $12.35

For me, I built about 10 hives from pallet wood. Eventually I began to make enough money to buy lumber – though by that time, it became a point of pride not to spend more money than I was making from my honey sales.

I was also fortunate to come across some very nice 2’x2’x5′ crates this year (Enough to build 60 Single Super Hives). I’ve bought lumber to build frames and, as I mentioned in another blog, those frames are costing me about $0.55 each.

I’ve also bought about a $100 worth of paint, as well as 200 plastic frames from Dadant for $420. As for bees, all of my hives come from those same three surviving hives I started with. So my total cost for the 100 hives I am building this year is approximately $1,070 (give or take).

So how much is my time worth? Well it seems it’s worth about $44,030 (give or take).

Of course, let us not forget that one of the great joys of beekeeping is the woodworking aspect. All that time spent in the shop, not only saves money but improves my carpenter skills in a “wax on, wax off” kind of way.

C. S. Lewis once said, “Two of a trade never agree.” The trouble with a lot of beekeepers is that they don’t know what they don’t know. In this blissful state of ignorance, they cling to the delusion that their way is the only way. Luckily for me, the different ways to raise bees are as numerous as the number of beekeepers out there.

That all being said, building 500 hives from pallets would be a monumental undertaking and spending $230,000 is just nonsense – so let your wallet be your guide. Save money where you can and spend money were you must. As the famous columnist Mary Schmich once said,

“The race is long and, in the end, it is only with yourself.” Mary Schmich

Mary Schmich

If you’ve enjoyed this blog and would like to keep up with my homesteading/beekeeping adventure , please scroll to the bottom of this page and click one of the FOLLOW buttons. I post a new blog every Monday.

Here are few earlier blogs and blueprints on how I used reclaimed and low price wood:

11 Comments Add yours

  1. CarolCooks2 says:

    A lovely informative post with a touch of Joie de vivre…A great read ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bryan Layton says:

      I am always amazed at the kindness of strangers… Thank you so much.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. CarolCooks2 says:

        My pleasure, Bryan…I am concerned about the bee population and while it is unlikely I will every keep bees … I have an interest in their survival ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      2. How did this project go? I am in the process of looking for pallets to convert into beehives. Here in Nairobi, a beehive costs about $100. For the business to be sustainable that’s too much. About a quarter of that would make more sense. Are you on Instagram or Tiktok?


      3. Bryan Layton says:

        The pallets work great for beehives. As for my side business. I changed jobs in 2020 and now only keep bees as a hobby.


    2. Tony says:

      This is the worst year I have seen for bees here. I will be building some hives this year to try to help

      Liked by 2 people

      1. CarolCooks2 says:

        That is so sad Tony but good to hear that you and I am sure other bee keepers are taking steps to try to increase the bee population ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Cinthia says:

    Thanks I am a mother and very busy! This helped me alot!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lazy K says:

    Where do you get pallets? I’ve never never seen a pallet unless I’ve purchase something large that comes on a pallet. PS I’m an 1 1/2 hours from my nearest small town so I hope you aren’t going to say “you can get a pallet at you local…….”


    1. Bryan Layton says:

      Given that there is no such thing as a pallet tree, the answer is going to have to include the words “you can get pallets at your local…” I have gotten pallets from local factories, casinos, and grocery stores. That being said, now might be a hard time to find pallets given that the high price of wood has caused a lot of places to recycle and re-use their old pallets.


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