I've watched every video of his I can find many many times.He is so inspiring.
What about product mix? There are a lot of things that bees produce. Honey, wax, nucs, and queens just to name a few. How does one go about deciding the best one(s) to pursue?
In general, those who are most successful find market holes and supply/fill them. I don't think Michael set out with a plan to produce 32 tons of honey along with the nucs and queens. Those markets developed over time.
My uncle use to raise and market over 30 acres of vegetables on his grain and seed farm. He never intended to do that. He sold some sweet corn seed to a neighbor who did pretty good but, had to leave his farm to sell it due to location. My uncle had a good location and started with a few acres of sweet corn and it grew from there. Customers would come and ask for this or that. He would try a little, figure out how to grow it, etc. If enough people wanted it he would grow more.
Michael provides a good model of what has worked for him. His use of nucs allows for sustainability of apiaries. What and how you market will be different.
Not only that, Michael's nuc model + Mel's late Autumn queen making model is
sustaining my apiary for the last 3 years. Going on the 4th will be a big
expansion here. The nucs will be growing rapidly without the mites to burden them in
the Spring time. You have to plan the process in order to make it right.
Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?
Thanks Tom. That's sorta on the track for what I'm looking for, not just from Mr Palmer, but in general from other beeks that are making a few $$ in the process. What were the circumstances that made them do, or not do, certain things from a business aspect.
I'm just looking for general input so I don't set about to reinvent the wheel so to speak.
stay on topic, this is a history of beekeeping forum, please move to appropriate forum.
If you concentrate on honey, decide what you are going to do with it. Are you willing to get into honey sales which is an entirely different beast than producing honey? At one time, we retailed and wholesaled a good portion of our crop but that still only amounted to about 35-40 thousand pounds a year. Our sales were heavily driven by tourism and without tourists we would have never sold those numbers. On the other hand, I know of parts of the country where you could easily sell more than that retail. Gotta understand your market. However, once you start producing larger amounts of honey it simply becomes a commodity and you have to understand what you can sell it for vs your costs to produce it. Even when we could bottle 35-40 thousand pounds for retail/wholesale, we still had to get rid of the remainder of the crop at the bulk price so keep that in mind.
And the vast majority of bee/nuc type sales are going to hobbyists at least around here. When large beekeepers buy bees its usually an entire operation (at least in the instances I know of). Backyard beekeeping has been a trend for about a decade now. It too will eventually come to an end.
Just make sure you have business options for the future.
BigBlackBirds, thank you! That is exactly the sort of information I have been seeking.
Great post... I guess I'll toss in my 2 cents again. We talk about diversification but in the back of my mind I keep thinking I'm just nuts. This is my plan if I can pull it off. I just built a new store, hope to have it completed by spring. The nearest bee supply is 80 miles away, so bee supplies is a must. I'm going to offer honey extraction and bottling too. The store/honey house is going to have a certified kitchen so preserves and such can be processed. Of course I'll be selling bees too. Miss anything?
I know of operations with a few thousand colonies that have all of their honey custom extracted. Its an expense for them but so is setting up a quality honey house and manning it. Thats one potential market assuming there are operations around you that have the need and you want to invest that kind of money in stainless equipment, pumps, building, and have the time and crew to operate such an affair.
On the other hand, I know a number of small folks don't want to do their own extracting or even buy the equipment for it. I have access to a nice set up that we used for years to extract but I don't have enough honey now to justify the time to setup the extracting room and clean up/tear it back down. I'd just as soon pay someone to run my honey and sure I'm not alone.
So I think you have a few possible business options with extraction if you know your market.
My biggest complaint about them tho, they made Michael a very popular person for getting into bee events as a speaker, so it's almost impossible for our organization to get him scheduled in now.
Second generation honey producer. Not only do I make a live at it. My Mom and Dad made a living at.
It's been a long and busy season. 78+ tons produced this year. We sold a lot of nucs , and packages, and tons of beeswax (wax broker and retailer).
The honey is bucketed and sold to the beekeepers, nothing get sold to the packers anymore.