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Thread: Selling bees

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Campbell, Wyoming USA
    Posts
    438

    Default Selling bees

    I figure this is as good of a place as any to ask.

    First and foremost I'm not a commercial beekeeper, not even a sideliner. Barely considered a serious hobbyist but I'm trying to tread as lightly as possible with this upcoming endeavor I plan on tackling this spring. I've been doing bazaar's with the wife on the weekends when they are available and have been talking a lot with people and networking with people around the community. I've received nothing but positive feedback about our products and had the opportunity to talk with educators and hobbyists alike. At our most recent show I had several inquiries in to people asking if they could purchase 5 frame nuc's from me and what the costs would be. Here comes my dilemma. I just recently learned how to raise queens via grafting and produced about forty nucs last fall. I produced the nucs to late in the year for them to do much besides build up a little before they dwindled and pretty much died off. The whole purpose of creating the nucs and the reason I wasn't to concerned about whether they lived or not was simply an experiment for ME to see if I COULD produce queens, get them mated, get them laying, and start an actual colony. I've told several people who have asked if I would have nucs available for sale that I hope too but I would be selling them for a fraction of the cost of what they would find elsewhere on the internet for the first year simply because I have no idea what I'm doing and because I can't guarantee the quality of the product with confidence because I'm not confident in the product just yet. I've explained to people they would actually be doing me a favor by caring for some of these nucs that I produced and letting me know how the queens in them and the nucs themselves fair. I've given rough quotes of about 75$ per nucleus colony to cover the cost of queen production and the cost of the equipment that I'll be giving up.

    I know all this may sound stupid or that I've already committed a plethora of mistakes but I don't know how to go about doing this especially since I've never done it before. I don't feel it's fair to charge people a premium, I don't want to just give away hard work, and I don't want to give people a false sense that they're receiving anything other than an experiment from me.

    Any suggestions are welcome, please be gentle
    We the willing have done so much with so little for so long we can now do anything with nothing

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    6,487

    Default Re: Selling bees

    My advice is to take a step back, and build some nucs, winter them, and then sell them. Then sell them for market price. Selling nucs is simple, your selling frames of bees and brood with a laying queen. Nothing more, nothing less, you cant guarantee performance, you cant guarantee success, your selling an active hive, at a certain strength, with a laying queen for cash.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Indianapolis IN 46227
    Posts
    285

    Default Re: Selling bees

    I'm with Ian on this. I too am venturing into bee sales. Rather than price them lower, I am pricing them at or a little higher than market value as one would find here in the for sale forum.

    Most people have to drive 2-3 hours one way to procure good nucs or hives. Even at a little higher price, mine are much less in the long run for local folks.

    And don't underestimate "perceived value". If your goods are priced too low, they and you will be perceived as less value. I'm a remodeling contractor, and sometimes I miss the mark and bid too low. I have never gotten a second job from those folks because they perceived me as "the cheap guy", and when my next bid is normal in price, they think I'm trying to gouge them.

    Don
    Last edited by DonShackelford; 12-03-2012 at 05:29 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    968

    Default Re: Selling bees

    More important than sale lost because people perceive a lower value and higher risk is that you appear to be lowering the price because you share that view -- that since you are just starting to produce them, and they may not survive as well as bees produced by guys who know how to do it well, you are lowering the price to make for it.

    I sincerely hope that I am reading something into what you wrote and that this is not the case.

    If someone buys your bees at any price, and they die, and he learns that others who bought your bees lost theirs, too, it won't be the lower price he remembers, but the poor quality.

    It is better to sell no hives until you are confident in the quality of your product and protect your reputation!

    Make a bunch of nucs.
    Keep them until they are doing well, and if you use local queens, sell them as Northern raised Thunder Basin Bees and charge a premium.
    Sell value and not not price, and price according to their value.

    Don't sell nucs you think might be substandard at any price.
    Don't even give them away. Pinch the queens in bad ones and start over those boxes over.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    1,409

    Default Re: Selling bees

    Do not under cut yourself, you will be doing yourself and other beekeepers a great injustice by charging a minimal amount for your nucs. $75 for a nuc is way low in my opinion, you have the box, the cover, the already drawn frames with brood of all stages and food, bees of all ages and a laying queen. You would be losing money at that price.

    Your investment is at bare minimum of atleast $60. Don't be afraid to charge $100 for a good healthy nuc, and then offer a discount for multiple purchases.

    And your better off replacing a dud queen for free to your customers it would make you feel better.

    Just think of this, major and minor nuc suppliers sell out almost every year, that should tell you how strong that market is.
    Coyote Creek Bees

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Campbell, Wyoming USA
    Posts
    438

    Default Re: Selling bees

    Hey I just wanted to say thank you to all of the respondants to this thread. Much appreciate the words of wisdom and advice. Definitely going to reasses how I'm going to proceed with this this upcoming spring.
    We the willing have done so much with so little for so long we can now do anything with nothing

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Indianapolis IN 46227
    Posts
    285

    Default Re: Selling bees

    Quote Originally Posted by Beregondo View Post
    ... sell them as Northern raised Thunder Basin Bees and charge a premium.
    I got a kick out of this. It's exactly what I'm doing. Everyone wants to know what kind of queen is in the nuc, so being a native Hoosier (person from Indiana), I call my queens "Hoosier Hygenics"

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