It started with a Christmas present for one curious 9-year-old boy.
My son, Riley, was fascinated with a public television program about the life cycle of bees. We decided it would be a great opportunity to learn about self-sufficiency and get something delicious as a bonus.
Santa brought Riley a complete beehive kit and we kicked in the membership to the local beekeepers association. A month later, Riley and my husband Clay assisted a master beekeeper in removing a feral bee colony from an empty home. These would become our bees.
The first year we harvested six pounds of honey. The next year, we harvested 116 pounds. We couldn't possibly use all the honey our bees made. We gave away jars to our family and friends throughout the year, and they became our first customers. I found another avenue for sales when talking with the manager of our local wine-making supply store. Mead makers in the area were looking for local honey. I provided samples and our contact information to the wine store, along with how much we had available and our next anticipated harvest date.
I also offered a discount due to the bulk sales. Our costs are considerably lower because we can bottle in jugs instead of the smaller, more expensive, glass jars.
We’ve been selling honey for six months now, and we've already realized a six percent return on investment. We predict the start-up costs will be paid by the proceeds within the next 18 months as we have bigger sales.
Advice For Beginners
Start from a place of abundance, both physically and mentally. Don’t hesitate to give free samples and share your knowledge. A little goodwill goes a long way in making loyal customers.
Know your bottom line before you talk to people. We told a lot of people we weren't selling honey in the beginning just because we didn't know what to charge. After speaking with other beekeepers, we found the going rate and this helped us figure out a reasonable price.
Networking is for everyone, not just marketers! Sharing your hobby is a great conversation starter, and you never know when you’re going to meet your next customer. People are very receptive (and sometimes a little envious) hearing about our adventures.
Photo by Fotolia/frog-travel