So, you’ve worked hard and have some healthy hives that are producing a fair amount of honey for you. What now? Most beginner beekeepers don’t have a marketing plan in place before they’ve gotten to this point. If you’ve been thinking about putting some of your honey out on the market then read on, hopefully you can pick up a tip or two. There are basically three ways for you to try and get a return on the hard work you’ve done:
- If you only have a couple of hives you really shouldn’t have any trouble selling what you have to family, friends and neighbors.
- Once you’ve picked up a few splits or swarms and your operation is growing, you’ll have to find some help finding buyers for your honey. Good places to start would be local grocers and health food stores, fruit stands and roadside organic markets. Setup a wholesale price for these vendors. They have to make a profit too, so keep this in mind when negotiating your price.
- The least profitable method of selling honey is selling to wholesale dealers, when I say least profitable, I mean price per pound.
Most beekeepers fit into the first two categories, selling most of their honey from home or in roadside stands. When getting your honey ready to sell spend a little time making an attractive label, and make sure your honey is filtered and looks good in the bottle. Not too many people are willing to pay a premium price for honey that has comb or bee parts floating in the honey. Never let honey crystallize on the shelf, remove it immediately. Don’t be afraid to try new things. The last bottle of honey I purchased was from a local beekeeper that had just opened a new store near me dealing with honey and bee supplies of all sorts. When I went in to wish him luck he had a really nice display of chunk honey right as you walked in the door. I had to have one!
Repeat business is the best business and a clean attractive display will help get that for you. Of course having great tasting honey doesn’t hurt either! Unless you’re very lucky you won’t be selling all of your honey right away and that’s where the repeat customers come into play. As your clientele builds you should have a steady stream of business all year.
Have you thought about marketing? Unless you have very deep pockets you’re probably on a shoe string budget and will be looking for inexpensive ways to let people know your there and what you’re doing. A great online resource can be found on Craigslist in their classified section. Additionally you’ll find many of the beekeeping forums will have a “for sale” section that’s free. Get active in your local beekeeping association; act as a guest speaker at some local gardening events and meetings. If you are recognized as a beekeeping authority in your area it will show in your sales and your price. Remember this, getting your name out there will get you sales, but taking care of your customers will make you successful!
Last but not least, don’t take your time for granted when setting the price for your honey. Low balling the local competition not only does a disservice to you and the local beekeepers in your area but it will keep your business in the red. Nobody wants that!
Here’s to your success!