Did you start with the usual business loan and sell to brokers, or did you start small and build up?
If you started small, how did you find enough customers, and how did you extract?
I was thinking that I could start small, sell at a couple of friends places, and place an ad on the net. But, I have NO idea how much honey will move that way. I would LIKE to build up to a profitable business with a hundred hives or so, but all of the honey producers that I know are hobbyists, and only move a few hundred pounds a year.
I have noticed that the beekeepers can only move about 30 pounds a day at the local farmers markets, and the farmers markets are only open for 3 months a year out here. I am aquainted with a lady with a small pie shop, but her shop is a small one and it is only one year old, and I suspect she can only sell a few bears a week for me.
Somehow, I suspect that it will be easier to PRODUCE the honey than to SELL the honey!!!
I can get any amount of information on well-established businesses, except how they were started, it would seem......
You need a market for your large volume of honey produced. Retail will be a small (but important) part of your business by adding value to your product. You must find a packer in your area to ship your excess honey wholesale.
If borrowing money from lender, market for your product will be the first thing they ask you with your business plan
[This message has been edited by Ian (edited September 22, 2003).]
Bigger outfits (100+ hives) tend to sell to packers. All you can expect there is the market price. It's not the best price, and can change year to year, but it's a built in buyer, and they will usually buy all you have.
Smaller outfits tend to center on direct retail sales. However, there are bigger markets/clients out there. Health food stores, wineries, and some grocery stores pride themselfs on carrying local products (local sometimes meaning just within the same state). It's well worth the effort if you have the honey because the price is better and is more stable, but you will have to pack the honey yourself (more labor) and larger stores expect you to have a upc symbol (added cost). They also may expect you to guarente a certain quantity being available. Localy someone from the beekeeping association has made contact with a local Krogers grocerty store, and they are willing to carry our honey, but their volume requirements were just a bit too high for one beekeeper to fill. We've been talking about having several members get to gether and filling the order.
Other stores are willing, but at least one we looked into (either Meijers or Walmart) required a 1 million dollar product liability policy.
So far with one health food store, local sales, and some internet sales I've been able to sell out of honey from 20-30 hives. (2000-3000+ pounds).
In the last year, I have retailed about 1000 pounds using a Local Honey for Sale sign at the end of my road and notices on bulletin boards at work. Overtime you will work up a regular clientele. If your honey is good, it will usually be better than that sold at the grocery stores. Cold processed - not heated to 160 like alot of commercial people which kills alot of the flavor and ruins the vitamins/minerals. Pollen not filtered - good for allergy sufferers. Mention ribbons won at county/state fairs. All good selling points. Whenever I sell to a new customer, I give them a flyer emphasizing these selling points with my name, address, phone. They usually give the flyers to friends. Word of mouth works well.
I have sold out of honey every year so far. I average between 1,200 - 1500# per year. I sell it in a couple of the local German gift shops and a German bakery. I also sell quite abit by word of mouth. If you have a good product, people will come back for more.
Remember a small shop that only sells a few bears a week, over the year can add up to several hundred bears. It only takes a few small shops to get a good customer base started.
I have been building up slowly over the last seven years from (1) hive to (22) this year.
I've noticed that most ethnic groups (not "typical" Americans) appreciate honey that has not been heated, honey that is different colors etc. They are used to what honey really tastes like. Most Americans don't have a clue what honey should taste like. Try Mexican, Arabic, Mediterranean, Greek, Vietnamese, Oriental grocery stores in the ethnic neighborhoods. They tend to appreciate the real thing.
What awsome marketing ideas!
I am going to print out this sheet and put in next years beekeeping supplies. I hope to have enough honey to sell a little, then!
All I have to do is tell the small retailer that I raise bees for honey and they give me their card and ask that I bring them some honey.
But, I don't have any to sell.
Bums me out Bad. Oh well, there's always next year.
Musulims and Hindu's use honey in their religious ceremonys.
Also helps to have a way for a prospective customer to sample the product, Tooth picks, Tounge depressors, Drink straws will work for sampling.
Does anyone out there combine their honey production with a market garden or pick your own orchard? I am writing an article for an organic market garden newsletter targeted at helping poor starving idealists trying to make a go at a good lifestyle and giving people healthy food.
The posts above are great input - anyone else combining it with a farm stand or farmers market stand. Would love to hear advice and experiences, some quotes and pictures would be great.
For a large scale beekeeper,(100+)Hives you can also pollinate crop's. in some cases there is as much money in that as they are in honey.
also as Ian stated you will need to find a packer to move that much honey.>>>>Mark
Another outlet for your honey may be through a local beekeepers group / club. An example is the Catskill Mountain Beekeepers. The club setups at various local events and markets members honey & products from their hives. The club takes a percentage from the sales of the day to cover the costs and to earn revenue.
Terri, Golden Heritage Foods, 120 Santa Fe Street, HIllsboro, Ks 67063 will buy all the Honey you want to sell. [Used to be Barkman Honey]. They advertize in Bee Culture. Dale
>Did you start with the usual business loan and sell to brokers, or did you start small and build up?
I would think that most beekeepers start out with just a few hives. Then grow from there. That's the way I started.
>If you started small, how did you find enough customers, and how did you extract?
I was worried when I first started. I didn't know if I would be able to sell all of my honey. Since then I have found that I am alway in need of it. I wish for and work to make more.
I've sold all of my honey at work, church and to friends. I've never had to advertise. I think this will change next year, and as my hobby/apiary grows I will be able to handle the changes.
I have a small extractor that I use. This winter I'm going to make a new one.
I would start small and work my way up. The amount of information and contacts that you will need to know in your area will make or brake you. There are other sources for income with bees also. including pollonation, bee removal, wax, propolus, queen rearing/breeding, packages, and nucs. All can make you as much or more than just honey.
Any business venture requires a plan. It would be helpful to you to write down your goal and project your production. Then you'll have to expense out your projected costs on paper and see how much money you're willing or able to lose, for how long, until you get production enough to over expenses and possible profit. I don't think you'll have a problem selling the honey. You can always wholesale it in drums if you have that much. You can contact groceries, gift stores, farm supply stores, anywhere people spend money. Attractively-packaged honey sells most anywhere. YTou could also find a niche with a web-site geared toward who you thgink your customers are. There's no point in doing it as a business if you're just going to turn money over without keeping a good chunk of it. You have to count your time as well as hard expenses such as equipment and bees and gasoline, electricity, insurance. That's why it's a hobby for so many folks. Running it as a business requires more work than the actual bee work.
Another thought: the selling part requires that you do more promotion through such things as speaking to groups(clubs, churches, schools, scouts) and putting on demonstrations at fairs and festivals. It requires being a shameless promoter in your speech, dress, condition of your equipment, presentation of product, cards, brochures, pamphlets, etc. It's all in the image and attitude. The bad thing about honey production is that you can never be sure of how much product you'll have. When the supply is low, the price will be high and vice-versa, so you have to be prepared to endure the lean times. Many a beekeeper has started with a honey stand in front of the house. I don't think you'll be able to go out and build 100 hives and start making profit. I think most folks let the hives they have pay their way, adding more each season as money allows until the point of diminishing returns is reached(or in most cases,exceeded). Good luck.
I sell by word of mouth. Just mention that you have bees, and it seems everybody wants your honey. I supply two local farm markets, and sell out. Local farm markets are big around here, and many outsiders visit them.
>There are about 15 full-time commercial beekeepers, a few who work part time and about 2,000 hobbyists in the state,(Mississippi) he said. [http://www.sunherald.com/mld/thesunh...s/6711515.htm]
Amazing. I thought there would be more full time commercial beekeepers. Is it Mississippi or are that few full time beekeepers? I knew Allen Dick retired but did he personally skew the numbers?!