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The Ins and Outs of Starting a Beekeeping Business

Setting up a beekeeping enterprise may seem like an enjoyable and fun pastime, however it can also be a great deal of hard work – both labor-intensive as well as time consuming.

Many people setting up a beekeeping business tend to treat it like a hobby, but developing a hobby and developing a business and earning a living are two completely different things. A hobby is something that you invest some time and a modest amount of money in, where the payoff is in the enjoyment of practicing the hobby. On the other hand, beekeeping as a serious business requires more time and far more capital investment, as well as a great deal of forward planning.

Beekeeping is a bit like farming – you need to be familiar with market demands and you also need to be clued up technically because, you are going to need to produce the honey fast, efficiently and cost-effectively!.

There are other things to considering when starting a beekeeping business, such as deciding on your product range, choosing packaging, labels, branding, setting up a website, finding markets, pricing, distribution, hiring sales people, setting up an admin system – the list is seemingly endless.

So, suddenly a simple and enjoyable hobby can become complex and very involved. If you had initially started beekeeping as an enjoyable pastime, and now turn it into a business, you may find your love for this business starting to dwindle over time as the cold hard realities of running a day to day business purely for profit set in.

Contrary to what many people may think, producing honey is a highly competitive as well as a highly skilled business where much depends on climactic conditions. There are no farmer co-ops for honey producers to regulate prices. So there is no way to stabilize prices in order to make sure that you will be paid a fair price for your honey.

If you are set on turning your beekeeping hobby into a serious business, then perhaps the very first thing you should decide is how you are going to sell your honey. Are you going to produce honey on a small scale and market it to home industry stores, farm stalls, and organic food stalls in your area, or will you sub-contract your entire production to the large corporates who buy up the honey production of small independent suppliers such as yourself?. These corporates package and market the honey under their own brand.

Sub-contracting may sound like the perfect solution. There are many obvious benefits:

• It takes away all the sales and marketing woes.

• It guarantees you an ongoing market for your produce, which is a very attractive proposition.

• It takes away the need for having to build a brand for your company, or design products around that brand. In other words, less investment, less work, less planning, and less chance of getting it all wrong.

However, there is also a downside. Let’s look at some of the drawbacks of selling your entire production of honey to an outside company:

• Absolutely no say regarding the price. These large companies set the price and you either accept it or leave it.

• The risk of putting all your eggs in one basket. What if the company suddenly stops buying from you? What if they drastically reduce the price due to a glut in supply? What if they go out of business, leaving you in the lurch?.

These are all factors to consider before embarking on a honey producing business.

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Updated: November 23, 2013 — 3:40 pm

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