Breaking Even

Today is an auspicious day: The Piette Honey factory has broken even! Starting from January 1st, 2012, I have a net positive $18. A big shout-out to John Zehms and Katie Amaya, without whom this threshold could not have been crossed.

Now, my accounting is particularly suspect because I’m depreciating all of my assets in one year. I did that because I never know what will happen in the next year- I might get American Foul Brood and have to burn my hives. Or maybe I’ll get tired of the whole thing and give the hives away to a friend. Plus I can’t think more than a year into the future, so it feels unfair to expect my hardware to retain value over the next 5 years.

I didn’t keep good records last year. I kept good track of my expenses, which was a total of $561. But I didn’t keep good track of the selling until I realized that I ought to start keeping track. I had receipts for my expenses, but no receipts for the sales. Plus I started out giving a lot of it away, so there wasn’t very much actual cash income! This year we organized much more and did many more cash transactions. I think charging for my honey improves the perceived value of it, and like I’m always saying to the Goods, perception is reality. Anecdotally, I always charge myself $10 a bottle. 🙂

Now here’s the numbers: This year I spent $557. I got about 150 pounds of honey, so my cost is $4 per bottle- if you accept my accounting methods. If you don’t, it’s about $2 per bottle. (Of course, that doesn’t include my labor costs. 🙂 If I were to include that, I would never break even!) Earlier I implied that my income was $575 for the year, but it was really only $509 in cash. The rest was given away, and in fact, I’ll probably give away the last 50 pounds, now that I’m solvent. I don’t want to make this into a real business that actually has profits. Also, I think I spent about $100 of my income on snacks and gifts instead of putting it away in my mattress, so I actually only have about $400 in cold, hard cash. It’s very hard for me to keep cash in my pocket. What can I say, I’m trying to stimulate the economy! I also gave myself a loan for the initial investment at the beginning of the year, but I don’t plan on paying that back. 🙂

So what will I spend my newfound $400 (or $18) on? More beehives for next year! I hope to buy two more hives for a total of four. While I will theoretically have twice as much honey next year, I know my costs aren’t fixed. I’ll probably need to buy a honey extractor. And I’ll need to do a lot of painting of the old hives. And hopefully my mean hive will die and I’ll need to order replacement bees, which get more expensive every year.

But here’s to next year! May God bless the bees and send some rain next summer! And here’s to the next project: Maple Syrup in the spring! I did a trial run last spring and it was awesome. This year I’ll see how much I can ramp up.

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