Ethics of selling honey as your own
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  1. #1
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    That would get you booted out of our Farmer's Market.
    Buy the ticket, take the ride. -H.S. Thompson

  5. #5
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    clyderoad,
    Set your price high and make sure you have a banner on your stall which says loudly and proudly, "We Sell Only Our Own Honey".
    Mark Berninghausen

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    Quote Originally Posted by rmdial View Post

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

    Your thoughts please.
    I assume by "buyers" that you mean the customers of the people you are talking about. You won't make any friends doing that. And probably not very many customers.

    Sell your own honey and keep your own standards.

    I have bought honey and sold it under my own label. I helped make that honey. I harvested it and extracted it. But it didn't come from my hives. Was that unethical? You tell me.

    I recently found out that in NY State if you pack honey produced by another beekeeper you need to do so in a licensed facility. Is that true in your State?

    What do the Market Regulations say? Or maybe no one in charge wants to enforce the regs?

    One thing I found out buying honey to resell, I didn't recoop my investment.
    Mark Berninghausen

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    Quote Originally Posted by rmdial View Post
    .If I am going to compete with these beeks, should I mention this to buyers?

    Your thoughts please.
    Yes you should! I look at it like this, I am selling everything I don't do to my bees/hives on their way to produce our honey, and the time this takes. Our honey is very distinct, and would never consider adding anything to it, nor would I consider buying someone elses honey and putting our label on it, not even for the mighty dollar!

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    All this has assumed that the resold honey was from far away and of inferior quality. What if one were to be approached by neighboring beekeepers, with known practices, who didn't want to be bothered with bottling and selling their honey?
    Buy the ticket, take the ride. -H.S. Thompson

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    Quote Originally Posted by cg3 View Post
    All this has assumed that the resold honey was from far away and of inferior quality. What if one were to be approached by neighboring beekeepers, with known practices, who didn't want to be bothered with bottling and selling their honey?
    Cg3, And the odds of that, I would guess would be rather slim. Also if it is not from my own hives, it is of inferior quality!
    Last edited by fieldsofnaturalhoney; 11-26-2013 at 03:12 PM.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    That's exactly where I find myself.
    Buy the ticket, take the ride. -H.S. Thompson

  18. #18

    Default Re: Ethics of selling honey as your own

    Quote Originally Posted by cg3 View Post
    All this has assumed that the resold honey was from far away and of inferior quality. What if one were to be approached by neighboring beekeepers, with known practices, who didn't want to be bothered with bottling and selling their honey?
    We are asked several times a year if we would be interested in purchasing honey from hobbyist beeks and decline because we can not know their practices.
    On the other hand, we are approached by an increasing number of beekeepers every year with local markets they are struggling to supply. Basically they are consistently better at marketing their honey than producing it. I would not consider them unethical unless they expressly tried to pass this honey off as their own if asked, or labeled it as "local" if it is not.

    While there are of course customers strictly concerned that the honey they buy is local, many don't care one way or another. We occasionally sell some varietal honeys and they are popular with customers not only for their different flavors, but also for the novelty that they were NOT produced here in Wisconsin.

    In the case of producer only farm markets, selling someone else's honey is beyond the pale. I think it commonly happens with all sorts of produce, not just with honey. If it is expressly against contracted agreement terms, this should be brought to the attention of the market administration. If they don't care, you can consider informing your potential customers. Either way, you need to decide if pointing out the uneven playing field is worth the headaches that doing so might entail.

    Sheri

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