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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
To MSL, JWPalmer, and all who sell a significant number of nucs, could you please describe your customers? I'd like some food for thought.

1. Your ideal customer. If you could pick one person that you wished all your customers were like, what are they like? Age, gender, do they have kids, income level (best guess), habits, beliefs, line of work, other specifics. Why do they want to be a beekeeper? Why are they buying nucs rather than packages? Why are they coming specifically to you for nucs? What are their concerns in beekeeping? What problem are you really solving for them, besides just providing them with bees? And, have they actually told you what they think, or are you just guessing?

2. How about your worst customer ever? Same specifics and questions as above

3. How about the vast majority of your customers in between? What are they like? Same specifics and questions as above.


My customer that I wish all my customers were like is a 35-year-old father of 5 kids, Traditional Catholic, hard-working, maybe $45K, lives on 65 acres, does what he loves for a living which is direct-to-consumer dairy farming from 5 jersey cows (supplemented by teaching). He and his family love raising animals and they produce much of their own food. He wants bees for honey, but also for curiosity and as a hobby. He wants to be successful at beekeeping, but is put off by the steep learning curve. In his opinion, online resources only go so far, and as he said, "I just need a real person." (That's the problem I'm solving for him). He started keeping bees in spring 2020 with 2 packages, and did not treat for mites at all. In mid October, he had a 20% mite infestation in his one surviving colony (which I pulled back from the brink by killing his mites and selling him three frames of healthy nurse bees and capped brood). He will never make that mistake again, for if encouraged, he is more than willing to learn what he needs to be successful, in spite of his busy schedule. He is cordial, polite, and more than happy to pay for advice, help, and bees. He's not rich, but he doesn't complain about prices.

This year, I only tried selling bees to two people, so I have not yet met my worst customer and I don't have a profile of my typical customer.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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I do not sell a lot of nucs per se, but many of my nuc customers are first time beekeepers who have attended a beekeeping class offered by the club I belong to. They seem to come from all kinds of different backgrounds. I do not inquire about social status or income levels. What I do care about is preparedness. Do they own a bee suit with veil? Are the hives I am transferring bees into clean and ready? Most of the times the answers are yes. Most concerning was the time a woman showed up in shorts and sandals to do an inspection and pick up her bees. Surprisingly, at last communication, her bees were still alive. Best is my mentee. She bought three nucs and calls fairly regularly to make sure she is doing the right things at the right time. She is also not afraid to buy whatever equipment is necessary to continue to grow her apiary. Not only are her three hives doing well, one of the three splits we attempted is also doing real well. The other two splits failed, one to robbing, the other to a queen that did not return from mating. Most heartwarming was a father and adult daughter team who were keeping bees together. They just wanted an additional colony and were not ready yet to try doing splits.
 

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I sell queens
 

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When I was doing it commercially, the best customers were commercial beekeepers. They do not -

Call you once a week and ask that you drive (unpaid and probably a couple hours round trip) to "take a quick look" at their hive, because there is something going on they do not understand.

Complain the nuc is queenless because they accidentally killed the queen, or just they can't find it.

Complain the nuc swarmed after they left it a month before transferring to their hive.

Call 6 months later to complain the bees died, or "they left". They want a refund.

Badmouth you to as many people as they can, because one or more of the above scenarios happened and they blame it all on you.

I gradually came to recognise "red flags" that a particular potential purchaser might turn out that way, and some people I just flat told them I was not going to sell them any bees. Sounds tough, but likely the best decision for both myself, and for them.

Commercial beekeepers though, I never had a problem, not even once, ever. They are my preferred choice of customer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks fellows.
 
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