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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    Post Falls, Idaho
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    166

    Default Ethics of selling honey as your own

    It has become apparent to me that many people selling honey at farmers markets, craft shows, and smaller venues talk about their honey as if all of it is from their hives when some of it is not. I know how many hives these people have and the amount of honey they are selling exceeds what they are producing. I also happen to know this because I am hearing other beekeepers (commercial/side liners) talking about selling honey to those that are acting as if the honey they sell is all their own.

    I am not naive enough to think this does not happen but my question is about the ethics of it. My opinion is that most people approaching a booth at smaller events assume the honey they are buying from the local beekeeper is solely from that beeks hives. When I know it is not, my opinion of that beek is diminished and I wonder what the buyer would think if they knew the truth.

    If I am going to compete with these beeks, should I mention this to buyers?

    Your thoughts please.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma dr. Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    817

    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    My labels say "Natural Wildflower Honey from the Bees of xxxxxxx and xxxxxx xxxxxxxxx" my, and wifes' name and contact info. When people ask me if I made the honey myself, my answer is no, my bees made it!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, Colorado
    Posts
    542

    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    Yep, I've been faced with this every year and if nothing else it makes you up "your" game. They don't suffer losses or do the amount of work it takes. What's ironic is I will say to a customer "I'm the only vendor that sells my own honey here!" and then they come back and show me honey they just bought from the other vendor which is honey from MT, ND, SD and I hit myself in the noggin' like don't you get what I just told you!!!!! They sell it just under your price to get the sale which adds further insult..

    I'm with you, it's frustrating, and it's up to the Farmers Market manager, just how much of the products can be brought in, outside of what the vendor produces. Just get your own marketing plan, observation hive, pictures of hives, yada, yada, yada, make it the best product the buyer will ever see, taste, imagine etc.....Once you get the customer onto your honey, there will be no going back for them if it's quality. But the easy sales being the only honey vendor are long gone, at least in my area. Good luck!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Athens, OH
    Posts
    2,695

    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    That would get you booted out of our Farmer's Market.
    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Suffolk, NY, USA
    Posts
    571

    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    Talk about opening up a can of worms!
    Lots of the honey sold here is not produced by the sellers. Many of these sellers put their label on the jar with no mention of the actual producer or origin of the honey or that they are merely the packer. I think at the very least it is misleading. For me, the "they don't ask, I don't tell" explanation is not good enough.
    Just recently I had this conversation with another beek here who is actually a producer of the the honey he sells, just like me.
    We agreed that this sales practice is not only very questionable but even hurts our retail business. They dump bought honey on the market under the guise of seller produced local honey and charge seller produced local honey prices. This situation would not exist if the label clearly stated the producer, origin and packer. Then you get the blenders. They blend outside honey with their own honey to meet their market needs, and somehow justify to themselves that it's all their honey. I have even heard some of these guys say they bought it so it is their honey!
    By the way, outside honey or local honey blended with outside honey retails for what you see in your local supermarkets. What, $5.50/lb. or so? Not the higher price that Locally Produced Honey can command.

    Consumers assume that honey for sale at a farm stand, farmers market, health food stores, etc., with a persons label that reads something like--
    Jim and Jane's Apiary
    Smalltown XX, 12345
    999-999-9999

    is actually from a beehive in Smalltown. Many of these consumers think they are talking to the producer of the honey as they are buying their products from the farm stand, farmers market or what have you. They like to know where their food is coming from and who grows or produces it, and are willing to pay a premium for this. They shouldn't assume so much, and are mislead as we know. Imagine the perspective buyers reaction during that nice homey sales conversation when they are told the honey is from 350 miles away and that the seller only bottles it and puts his/her label on it. BUT the pumpkins and brussel sprouts they sell are grown on their farm locally! Yup, misleading.

    I tell those who are interested the backround story of locally produced honey. Sometimes it comes up in a conversation about how my honey is so much lighter in color compared to the 'other guys' honey- the stuff he gets from 'somewhere else'. I just don't do it in a confrontational way, more like educational. But I don't hide the truth. I put 'local honey' labels on mine, none of the re-sellers do that. They seem to be satisfied with their results as it is.
    I quickly claim to be the producer of the honey I sell and not a honey re-seller or honey marketing company. I know what my honey has been subjected to (treatments?), how it's been processed (heated to 165f? and finely filtered?), and when it was harvested. And I freely share this information.
    Yup, a can of worms!

    Thanks for starting the thread.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Nashville,"Golden Valley" TN
    Posts
    111

    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    When ever I see honey for sell, I ask who the beekeeper is, and most people say it is them.
    Then I say well I am a beekeeper as well, and then typically the marketer will be at a loss and
    say something to the tune of -well it's really my son and he's not here.

    The truth is that there are alot of people selling honey as beekeepers and not that many beekeepers

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    WE sell a lot, we even buy flavors from other sources that we know well. We advertise it as "local" or orange blossom, or whatever. but telling people its ours when we bought it would be wrong, and unnecessary. its east to tell them its where its from, and there is no value in lieing about its source

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Brandenburg, KY
    Posts
    332

    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    I only sell my own honey, our farmer's market would also boot a person out selling other folks honey. My reputation is worth much more than a couple of thousand dollars of selling other folks honey.

    Quote Originally Posted by reidflys View Post
    When ever I see honey for sell, I ask who the beekeeper is, and most people say it is them.
    Then I say well I am a beekeeper as well, and then typically the marketer will be at a loss and
    say something to the tune of -well it's really my son and he's not here.

    The truth is that there are alot of people selling honey as beekeepers and not that many beekeepers

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    covington ga
    Posts
    170

    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    just wait until ...beeman dan...sees this thread...he will have alot to say about this subject....lol
    its my view that its not right to sell someone elses honey ,unless its clearly marked...most people dont know where the varietal honeys come from
    they dont know that sourwood comes from nga to to ncarolina or that orange blossom comes from florida or california....beekeepers need to be honest..its my experience though that
    the customer is getting smarter about honey.
    22 hives and holding

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Suffolk, NY, USA
    Posts
    571

    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    gm--
    there is no value in lieing about its source
    Not so. There is substantial monetary value gained by not disclosing the source and producer of honey clearly on the label. That is why it's done on such a wide scale. Even by big business, as we have recently witnessed.
    Without labeling that clearly states producer, origin and packer the consumer is purchasing the item without the necessary information needed to make an informed purchase. And the labels that don't offer this information are clearly misleading. People are paying alot of money for knockoff local honey. The value is in being able to sell cheaper honey for higher prices.
    It's occurred to me that maybe honey without this pertinent information is mislabeled.
    It's my feeling that a 'paper trail' regulation is in the foreseeable future, much like the 'supplement/herbal' market has incurred.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    Quote Originally Posted by greg zechman View Post
    just wait until ...beeman dan...sees this thread...he will have alot to say about this subject....lol
    No doubt, it gets my goat Greg.

    Quote Originally Posted by clyderoad View Post
    There is substantial monetary value gained by not disclosing the source and producer of honey clearly on the label.
    In a nearby metro area a particular supplier sells at a number of ‘producer only’ markets. In each of these upscale, busy markets I’m sure they sell at least $500 - $1000/week. Five plus markets….you run the numbers. The fellow manning a booth for them at one of the markets said he had 250 hives. This seller has varietals that he/she couldn’t possibly produce. It is just so impossible that I cannot put into words the obvious fraud…but it is only obvious to a beekeeper. While they sign agreements to only sell their own products, the market management has no way to tell. The system operates on trust. Where there’s money to be made unscrupulous people will always take advantage of trust.
    In my case I’m not directly affected by them. I don’t have absolute proof…just personal certainty. And so I’ve left it alone. If, on the other hand, I were a sideliner hoping to get into one of those markets I’d surely challenge them. And one day someone will.

    To the op. I believe if you simply sell your product…tell the customers about what you do and how it is done….those who are paying attention will see the difference in you and your product. It won’t take long for them to recognize you as the real deal.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Post Falls, Idaho
    Posts
    166

    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    What a response. I thought I would get all sorts of nasty replies to mind my own business. It is interesting how people treat this as a right to project an image that is not accurate.

    I did the math in very general terms as per price and figured a 55 gallon drum locally sells for about $2.20 lb which equals $1,452.00. Selling quart jars for $12.00 each will return $2,640.00

    You can buy a bee suit, work a few hives and only sell the honey you purchased in the barrel and make a very nice profit.

    My faith in beekeepers has taken a traumatic hit.

    Thanks for all the input.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, Colorado
    Posts
    542

    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    Try a qt. jar @ $20 and you will soon wonder why you do any bee work at all, and just go pick up the 5 gal. buckets. No fuss, no muss, and no losses to boot!!! In my area some of the Farmers Markets rely on volunteers so there's no way they're going to go check things out. I've mentioned to come on out and take a look at my place, thinking they'd also go check out the other. No takers yet!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Suffolk, NY, USA
    Posts
    571

    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    rmdial--
    It is interesting how people treat this as a right to project an image that is not accurate.
    My faith in beekeepers has taken a traumatic hit.
    I hope you mean 'some people and 'some beekeepers'.

    This issue is a big one here ($$), being so close to the NY metro area. Marketing firms & re-sellers doing a Walmart style attack on local beeks business, and all under the radar of the unsuspecting honey buying consumer. Education of the honey buying public is the only tool available to us, from my prospective.

    It's the way things are most everywhere you look, in this case beeking and honey. Can't give up or give in, or things will never be better.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    Quote Originally Posted by rmdial View Post
    My faith in beekeepers has taken a traumatic hit.
    The beekeepers who've responded, in most instances have stated that it is unethical to sell someone else's honey and claim it is their own. I'd say your faith in beekeepers should be restored.
    The folks who'll sell others' honey as their own but keep a few hives as a pretext don't qualify, in my opinion, as beekeepers. The term shyster comes to my mind.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    Interesting.. thought... when we tell people its from GA or WI (cranberry) it doesn't effect them a blip.... yes some want Local honey for allergies, but for us we price it the same if its orange from Fla to Clover from OH... taste sells them for us, so why lie? I haven't had any customers say, "well if there not your hives"...... I suppose lying to get into the producers only may help, but if its good pure honey the customers seem right on board, even when its from somewhere or someone else.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Suffolk, NY, USA
    Posts
    571

    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    gm-- I realize you tell the buyers, but how do you label this honey?

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Richland Iowa USA
    Posts
    154

    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    The real issue I would have is that people also buy LOCAL honey because they believe it helps them build resistance to local allergies. I do NOT know if this is fact, but in this context alone those people are being cheated. My town is small enough that all it would take is a few words to a few people and those sellers would quickly decide they didnt want to be a part of our farmers market anymore.. An advantage to living in a small rural town. I dont mind someone else selling their bee products, even cheaper than i sell mine. I still sell out eventually. I do however live by a moral standard, as do "most" who live nearby.. the city and big business mentality is slowly creeping in, but theres enough good ol boys left that were keeping it at bay.
    www.outyard.weebly.com 8 yrs aiding 40+ hives 3 yrs personal. 40+ of my own now (T, TF Goal) Zone 5a

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    Its got a flavor label on the top. or printed on the label. Our labels are very simple, no claims on them just pure raw honey and the flavor. It does say lazy Bee Ranch....
    Interesting thought. I have 2 girls that handle my sales... they are paid commissions..... so I guess technically its not even there ranch.....

  20. #20

    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    It depends on the nature of your market, I suppose.
    In the producer markets the customers expect to buy from the actual producer. The idea, I believe, is to be able to look the farmer in the eye and know the actual source of the food they are buying. For a growing number of people, this is important. And, while there is opportunity for dishonesty, it is difficult for a fake produce farmer to get by. The other farmers will figure him out pretty quickly.
    Beekeepers are a bit different. In the producer markets around here they only allow one. So there aren’t any contemporaries to weed through the bs.
    I am proud to be a member of the Athens Farmers Market (Athens, GA). All you need to do is talk to anyone selling there and you will appreciate their passion for what they do. There isn’t a laggard amongst them. There are some young farmers, often husband and wife teams, all full of energy and conviction. Some middle aged, post hippie sorts, again with the fervor of certainty that what they’re doing matters. And then there are us real oldtimers….moving a bit slower than the youngsters but still convinced that we are doing something important. And anywhere from a thousand to a couple of thousand customers coming through the gate each Saturday, willing to pay a premium to be assured that they are taking wholesome food back to their families. So, when I run across a shyster, taking advantage of a market….it pains me more than I can say….
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

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