Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 22

Thread: Selling bees

  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
    5,992

    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 04:29 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    966

    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
    1,400

    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
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Hartford, CT
    Posts
    607

    Default Re: Selling bees

    In New England a Nuc goes for $125 plus $25 for the nuc if not returned.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Springfield, MO, USA
    Posts
    102

    Default Re: Selling bees

    Moon,

    Anyone can raise queens and sell nucs. The smart shoppers are looking for someone who raises quality queens and who can prove the quality.

    Do you want to be just another guy selling nucs? Or, do you want to be the guy who carefully selects the queens he breeds, tracks the genetic lines, evalutates his breeding stock, selects for measurable criteria, and becomes the "guy that everyone wants to buy from"?

    Just because a queen is alive does not make her a good queen.......

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,701

    Default Re: Selling bees

    Here is the way I think of it. I raise some queens in summer and early fall, to over winter. If they make it in good shape to early spring, these are proven queens in their own over wintered nuc. I feel these should be worth at least top dollar in the market, and, they are available for sale earlier in the spring than spring raised queens to fill earlier in the year demand. I'm working towards this as a goal of mine.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    1,400

    Default Re: Selling bees

    I am going to try my hand at selling nucs this spring and see how that market goes around my area. I am also going to learn how to graft queens and dabble in that as well, just not on a large scale, but more of a hobbiest scale.........for now anyhow!!

    I am still trying to find a niche for my "hobby" to be lucrative, honey is alright, but unless a person sells at farmers markets or finds stores to sell in, its not a barn burner...........for me atleast. Knock on wood I have had good luck with raising nucs, and hope to continue to do so!!

    The only thing that I am debating right now is how I intend to make the sales transaction on my nucs. I really dont want people going to the place where I am raising nucs due to possible theft. And I also dont want to meet people meeting me in a parking lot. I would almost rather deliver the nucs to the new owners, maybe raising the price of the nuc and saying I am including delivery??

    Its bad enough that people are stealing 4 hive pallets of bees from commercial guys in the Almonds, it would be even easier to grab nucs, atleast it seems to me!!

    To you nuc sellers, how are most of your transactions handled?? And remember, I will be raising the nucs on a friends land, so its not like its in my yard where I can watch over things!!
    Coyote Creek Bees

  11. #11
    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"

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Indianapolis IN 46227
    Posts
    285

    Default Re: Selling bees

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeGhost View Post
    ... I really dont want people going to the place where I am raising nucs
    Me neither. I have a small privacy fenced area in my yard (a suburb) and sell from there. Customers don't visit my apiaries.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,992

    Default Re: Selling bees

    delivery would be the best option for you then. I dont know how much you would charge, but what ever nucs are selling for around your area. Buyers will not like a delivery charge though, work it into your price or just swallow the cost.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Farmington, NM
    Posts
    736

    Default Re: Selling bees

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    I dont know how much you would charge
    Beginning on Jan. 1, 2012, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

    •55.5 cents per mile for business miles driven

    Might be a starting place for you.
    Plant Hardiness Zone 6B, 5300 ft., Bee Zone A/B, Proverbs 24:13
    https://www.facebook.com/mobileprotection#!/2RBeeFarm

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    282

    Default Re: Selling bees

    Do not undercharge, that is a problem for all other people selling nucs. As stated above sell only a quality product and charge the going rate.
    I have picked up nucs at someones overwintering site/home/processing plant and did not feel inclined to return for freebies . But I do understand the worry and wondered how the standard transactions were carried out.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Oxford, PA, USA
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Selling bees

    I bring the nucs to my back yard. I do not take people I do not know to my apiaries

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    1,400

    Default Re: Selling bees

    Quote Originally Posted by doc25 View Post
    I have picked up nucs at someones overwintering site/home/processing plant and did not feel inclined to return for freebies . But I do understand the worry and wondered how the standard transactions were carried out.
    Doc, You would be the type of customer I would like!!

    As times get bad, people get bolder. Hive thefts already exist and seem on the increase according to what I read. People use lifts to steal whole four hive pallets from apiaries and pollination locations, it would be even easier to steal little five frame nucs!!

    I have bought one nuc and went to the persons house to pick it up. I have also been to another persons place that is getting into queen breeding and picked his brain and looked at his Sunkists, I also never had the thought of going back to steal anything, its not wired in my DNA.

    I am going to either inflate my price of nucs to include delivery, or have people meet me at a Satelite location where I might keep a couple nucs instead of many, then as I sell them I will just move more nucs there!
    Coyote Creek Bees

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,874

    Default Re: Selling bees

    I wouldn't take people I don't know to my Apiaries either. Most people aren't a problem, but you never know who they're going to tell, who might overhear, or who they're messaging the location of your bees to on a forum etc... Or maybe the nuc dies, and rather then pay for another.... they make a midnight visit for a free exchange

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    DFW area, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,074

    Thumbs Up Re: Selling bees

    Moon, I have the impression after reading many of your posts here that you are a fairminded person.....Somehow I'm confident that you are going to treat people fairly.

    As you treat people fairly, you don't need to go so far as to be unfair to yourself in the early transactions. Starting with good genetics as you make a queen, it does not take that long to judge a queen's performance in a NUC. Sell the NUC when she demonstrates capability to lay eggs in abundance with a good pattern and disease resistance. If you can overwinter the NUC so much for the better. Pinch any queen you have a question about, get your queen's nucleus hive full of bees, the details will come easily from there. Ask a market price.
    Last edited by Lburou; 01-03-2013 at 10:45 AM.
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    1,842

    Default Re: Selling bees

    Moon..... Here is some information on my small nuc sales operation. Hope this will help you. I like selling bees better than selling honey. Perhaps you will too.

    DonShackleford....Others... I love for people to visit my apiary. I want them to see my operation. I want them to see the pride I have in my bees, my woodenware, and my nucs. I am not concerned with the competition, (and I live next door to a GREAT bee company, Kelly Bee Company). If theft is a problem, then I understand.

    Just try to give quality service, a quality nuc, and you will find you will be able to sell, all you want to sell. I don't want to sell any more than 100, but someone who did, could certainly sell more. Several years ago, once I became established, and Kelly saw I had a quality product, as soon as they sell out they send customers to me.

    As a beginner at selling nucs, I would buy my queens for a couple of years, get a good start, until I was sure I could raise a quality queen, and deliver a quality product.

    BeeGhost... My farm is not secure by any means, and I share your concerns where you may not be able to secure them. Several years ago someone did steal three hives, but, in my area, theft hasn't been an issue. I have most of my brood stock at a different location from where I keep the nucs, and deliver them. When the nucs are ready, I put a name on them, notify the purchaser, and at his/her convenience they come to my yard, and pick them up. They can come from the next day, to 2 or 3 weeks. Once they are ready, they just sit there waiting for the customer to come pick them up. I try to schedule several customers for delivery, and go out before daylight and screen the front so they are ready when the customers arrives. I don't take a deposit, if someone orders, then decides they don't want them, I simply go to the next name on the list. Taking time to talk to your customers will get you sales next year. Helping, if they have a problem, will keep them coming back to you.

    I sell 100 nucs, and some overwintered single and double chamber hives each year. I like it much better than selling honey. Right now there is a big demand for nucs and complete hives. There is lots of room for quality producers, but just keep in mind, QUALITY is the operative word. Anyone can make a mouse trap, what you want is to make a quality mouse trap.

    And yes, price your product in line with others in your area. No need to undercut, or overprice.

    Here are a couple of photos of how I set my nucs up for customers to come to my yard.

    2012 nucs.jpg 2012 Nucs waiting for customer pick up.

    2012 Nucs, (2).jpg 2012 Nucs waiting for customer pick up.

    Hope this has been helpful.

    cchoganjr
    Last edited by Cleo C. Hogan Jr; 01-02-2013 at 03:29 PM. Reason: add info

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads