Getting paid is not the norm locally. Most of this is through local clubs where the experienced members dedicate their time and experience to help newbees. The clubs do charge a fee to cover printed materials and lunches that are provided. I suspect that the club makes a little money, but the teachers make nothing (sometimes a gift card like $20 is given to cover gas). There are exceptions, like when I teach a complete day (or multi-day) course by myself. These are formal courses that are not my main point of concern. I give lots of free lectures and solo help when requested. I've had many people shadow me for a day to gain experience and understand that it takes to manage more than a couple hives in their back yard. I've sponsored free workshops at my house covering specific aspects of beekeeping.
I think it is very difficult, if not impossible, to run a successful business using hobbyist principles.
This is not meant as a wise crack or as judgmental. Just that the end goal for each is in opposition to each other.
The reality is that a non compete clause will be virtually unenforceable in these circumstances.
For me, lot's of people get in touch wanting to work with me and learn. I don't charge them but I get free labor and enjoy the company. I hold nothing back there are no secrets in beekeeping, we are above ourselves if we think that we alone hold information the person could not get elsewhere.
I know a lot of these people are planning to one day be my competition, and I can sometimes see they are actually surprised that I don't try to keep any secrets, perhaps they secretly think I am a fool. But the way it's worked out is I have a good reputation and people want to buy from me. The newcomer has a hard road to get a reputation. So far my sales have not been dented in the slightest by new folks coming along.
But if they were dented, I would just have to accept that's the way the market works, I doubt me trying to keep secrets would change that, other than make me look like a mean old man. As it is now I enjoy a wide circle of friends who think I have benefitted them and that's a happy situation for me to be in, and payback does happen from time to time which is great.
I wish someone would tell me about those secrets of beekeeping... If someone would just tell me what to do, my job would be so much easier !
Oldtimer ! I know your holding back !!
I've taught beekeeping classes for years. I've had people ask if I wasn't afraid that I was training my own competition. My answer has been that I know what it takes and I know the return and anyone who has the passion to become competitive is welcome. I get calls and emails most months from shops asking about wholesale honey and I have to tell them that I'm not able to add any new accounts....I just can't produce enough. It is hard to imagine that it is so different other places...maybe so, but around here consistent suppliers of quality local honey are rare.
Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson
[QUOTE=AstroBee;1373933]I'm often called upon to provide guidance and consulting to new beekeepers who are struggling with various aspects of beekeeping. Also, I routinely teach multiple beekeeping courses annually on a wide range of topics and in the past I've always gladly contributed my experience to help out. However, as time passes a few of these newbees are now getting to the point of being serious sideline beekeepers and I've even had some of my "students" come into my established retail outlets and undercut me on price. When confronted they make comments like "...it is still a free market economy.." and insist that they have every right to step on my accounts, regardless of my past goodwill. Its getting to the point where I'm gun-shy to share anything with new beekeepers. I know this sounds horrible, but I've worked hard at building my business and dedicated a lot of time building my stock over the past 10 years. Certainly FORD doesn't invite GM engineers into their R&D labs to "borrow" their best ideas.
BTW, when I'm approached by a perspective customer, one of my initial questions is: are you working with another beekeeper? If they say yes, I ask them who it is and why they are not meeting their needs. I will call the beekeeper and talk over the situation to see what they are comfortable with.
How do you commercial guys suggest The exact same thing happened to me, (I felt hurt ) so I lowered my price and went round all his outlet's it works for me beekeeping is a hard game I have to much in it to lose.https://www.beesource.com/forums/images/icons/icon19.gif
I never try to sell honey in a store that has a beekeeper selling in it. There are lots of small stores that jump at the chance to sell local, unfiltered honey around here. I can't produce enough to keep them all supplied so I'm picky about where I place my honey and make sure it's displayed well and priced reasonably. So far I've been very lucky and have never lost a customer.
Respectfully, I disagree. Astro is in our Fourth Judicial Circuit and our Court of Appeals has held as enforceable a Confidentiality Agreement and Covenant not to Compete. In fact one year, while I had my private security business we had to get an emergency injunction in federal court to enforce the agreement when someone wanted to go to the Washington Post to blab some corporate secrets of someone we were protecting. The court not only enforced the order, but made him pay 15,000.00 in attorneys fees for violating the agreement. That hearing occurred in Alexandria, Virginia. The court narrowed in on the fact that our agreement was not overly restrictive so much so that it would prevent someone from working in a particular industry but served a valid business need in protecting confidential matters such as customer and pricing lists, employee hiring practices, confidential communications, "common interest communications with employees" and such. The court also indicated that we had a finite time frame upon which the employee/contractor could not solicit our existing customers (2 years) and as such was reasonable. It cost us $2500.00 to have the law firm prepare the document.
"It cost us $2500.00 to have the law firm prepare the document." Which is probably what the OP made in income last year, before expenses. Spending that much to protect his market would not be worth it. Finding new outlets in the vacinity of Suffolk, VA would be easier and less costly than going to Court.
Lawyer here. Non-compete clauses are enforced differently in different states. In Ohio, they are readily enforced by the courts--including ones that require the breaching party to pay the others' attorney fees. That will act as quite a deterrent. In other states, they are not enforced at all as a matter of public policy.
But most states are also signatories to the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Depending on how your state enforces it, this may provide serious deterrents to a beekeeper who is using your trade secrets against you. And it doesn't require a contract or agreement.
That said, Astro, if you are volunteering and teaching clinics but you don't like teaching would-be competitors stop. I guest lecture at law schools and one day one of those kids might take me down in court, but educating those coming up behind us seems to me to be a necessary and important part of the human experience. If Socrates hadn't shade his wisdom, we wouldn't have had Plato. If Plato hadn't shared his, we wouldn't have had Aristotle. And so on and so on.
Also, as a final thought, consider the plight of poor Rev Langstroth. He developed something so revolutionary yet simple that it was immediately copied the world-round. And then he promptly spent himself into the poor house trying to enforce his patents. A wiser course, perhaps, would have been to keep the modest money he made out of his lawyers' pockets and revel in the knowledge that he made his beloved hobby and the world a little bit better.
Dr. Dyce and the Cornell Creamed Honey Patent.
As an instructer what do you really give someone? Knowledge? Knowledge is freely available today. Secret knowledge? There are 2 kinds of secrets - those that are only known by 1 person, and those that are gonna get out. I sure don't know any beekeeping secrets.
Those people who had the motivation, and took your instruction and ran with it, and actually made something with it would have probably done it without you. Just like you probably did when you were learning.
I agree that it's disrespectful to prey on your mentor, and I would not be happy about it either. But it's not worth becoming cynical in my opinion - it's just how it is.
You could look at the competition as the motivation to innovate, or keep your operation lean and mean in order to keep ahead of the people that you teach, and others. Not all competition is bad.
First thanks for providing details on legal issues.
Whether to stop sharing beekeeping knowledge was in part one of the things I was attempting to get from this exchange. I plan to continue to share at least some of my experience, I'm on the fence as to what will be free exchange. BTW, I'm also an adjunct professor at a local university where I teach engineering. So, yes, I do appreciate the need to convey knowledge and the value that it has for our society. However, understanding complex engineering texts and presenting it to students is different (at least to me) than Ford inviting GM engineers into their R&D labs to share all the techniques and procedures. This is why I really don't have issues with teaching basic beekeeping biology, pests and diseases, etc. When it comes to inviting students into my bee yards and spending a day (or more) sharing all the details of my operation, then that's were it gets a bit more dicey. I do believe that details in beekeeping matter, how and when you do things matters - a lot at times. There are an enormous number of things that can be tweaked to increase yields. Can these be learned by all, sure, but it takes time. Like the old saying "Time is money".
I guess this all makes me a cynical mean old man...
Yes, if Mark is only netting $2500 on 60 of his colonies, then perhaps he needs to stop by Suffolk on one of his trips and become one of my students...