I know most of my regular blog readers already know this but something that we have been able to stop buying in the last couple of years is honey! It isn't that we aren't using honey - we actually use way more than we ever did before but we are keeping bees now and they produce enough honey that we don't need to buy any and we are even able to give it away as gifts.
You might wonder if keeping bees is actually a way to save money. Last year I had to buy all of the equipment as well as the NUCs of bees so we did put quite a bit of money into it- around $500. That year was a good honey year for us however and we got over 300 lbs of honey from our 2 hives. Now if I would have bought that from the store (Raw and local honey which is the best for you) I would have spent well over $1,000. So for us even in our first year we were able to spend about 1/2 the amount on supplies that it would have cost us to buy that much honey. Now to be honest we wouldn't have bought that much good honey simply because it wouldn't have been in our food budget but we are very thankful to have been able to get it in a cheaper (and more educational!) manner.
This year we only spent a little over $160 (buying bees as we did not overwinter them last year) and though I almost don't think we will get as much honey as we did last year but I do think we will get quite a bit again. This winter we are going to try to overwinter some of the bees so hopefully we will be able to cut our costs down even more.
Last year harvesting honey ended up being lots and lots of work as the extractor that was made for us was hand cranked. This year my Dad found a drill (which I do need to pay him back for so that will add some more expense to the honey project but it is well worth it) which we are able to use to turn the frame that holds the frames. Harvesting just sped up a whole lot!
Beyond the savings on good honey we are also getting greater pollination for our garden from the bees which causes us to have better harvest especially on things like cucumbers and peppers. We are noticing a difference too so I am pretty happy about that!
Have you ever thought about raising bees or do you do it? I would love to hear your thoughts or questions.
By the way... our results may not be normal. We have been extremely blessed - even when others around us have thought it was a bad honey year (last year).
I am linking this up to Frugal Friday at Money Saving Mom.