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I was mooching around on the web and found Jz's B's website (the queen cage people) It has some great video clips on their beekeeping operation from the yard to the drum. They also ship tanker loads.
It got me thinking. How big did you guys get (in hives) before you decided that it made more sense to sell by the 45 gallon drum than to be at every farmers market between your house and the state line? I was thinking that there must be a point at which you realize your local market can only bear so much and then what? What was your experience and do you still sell bears etc. or are you just selling bulk? Also what do you do with partially filled big drums at the end of extraction? In curiosity, Adrian.
 

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Adrian,
Selling by the barrel, 55 gallons, by the way, not 45, just to be picky, has been the norm for most commercial beekeepers ever since modern commercial beekeeping came into existence. Many, if not most, commercial beekeepers would also dabble in selling honey in jars, but not much by way of the farmers markets like you wrote about. Market sales take up too much time, which for most commercial operations there is little time to spare. There are always the exceptions of course. It's not so much what the local market can bear as it is what do I have time for.

Partially filled barrels? If there is one, it would go to the packer too. They buy honey by the pound. If one is half or one third full, they will still pay for it.

I am more of a producer/packer/distributor and pollinator, on the small side of commercial operations, w/ 400 to 600 colonies. So, my personal experience is somewhat different than, say, John and Sheris'. I sell in bottles and jars and 5 gallon containers everytyhing that I can produce. I haven't sold honey in 55 gallon drums in years, 6 or 8 years. I'm sure that if I got out there and pushed it, went to every store and worked the selling thing, marketing, I could sell more honey locally. By locally I mean everything from my house to +/- 100 miles away. I don't do farmers markets for reasons stated above. I devote my time to packing honey, working my bees and distributing honey to stores. And spending time on beesource, of course. I wish I could make some income from that. :)
 

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Allen good guess.:applause: I immigrated to the US in 1993 from England. Over there the gallon is bigger so the same size drum is 45 gallons.
 

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OK, let's get really picky, most of the barrels I get are the (brown) "Argentina" barrels that hold 60 gallons :) .

When I first started out, with just a couple of hives, I sold all of the honey via the retail market. Now, operating 600 - 700 hives, I wholesale probably 95 - 98% of it. I still bottle around 2,000 - 2,500 lbs every year, and generally sell most of that in 1 gallon pails (most of my customers use quite a bit of honey). I sometimes wonder if selling any retail honey is worth it, as filling up small containers is quite tedious and time consuming compared to filling barrels, but I do have a lot of customers that buy from me year round.
 
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