Producing and Selling Honey for the Backyard Beekeeper

Try your hand at successfully selling honey with advice about artisan honey production and sales.

| September 17, 2012

  • Decorative-Honey-Jars
    Honey harvested and bottled for home use can be stored in any number of resealable containers. Honey for sale, however, requires additional considerations.
    Photo By Kim Flottum
  • Honey-Jar
    Inverted containers that keep the honey against the jar opening are convenient and offer ample room for affixing product labels.
    Photo By Kim Flottum
  • Honey-Handbook-Cover
    In “The Backyard Beekeeper’s Honey Handbook” by Kim Flottum, hive hints and honey-harvesting tutorials abound. With this book at your side, you’ll be the sweetest, savviest beekeeper in the neighborhood.
    Cover Courtesy Quarry Books
  • Dutch-Gold-Honey-Jars
    These traditional honey jars are known as Classic Gambers. If all other honeys on the shelves are bottled in these containers, consider differentiating your product with another style.
    Photo By Kim Flottum

  • Decorative-Honey-Jars
  • Honey-Jar
  • Honey-Handbook-Cover
  • Dutch-Gold-Honey-Jars

The Backyard Beekeeper’s Honey Handbook (Quarry Books, 2009) is the first book of its kind, focusing on the best ways to produce, harvest and use what beekeepers and their bees have created. Hive hints and honey-harvesting tutorials are delivered with the sound, practical perspective of seasoned expert Kim Flottum. The following excerpt from the book is about keeping track of when honey plants bloom and selling honey for maximum profit. 

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Backyard Beekeeper's Honey Handbook.

Honey Plants: The Best Sources of Information

The best source of information about when honey plants bloom where you and your bees are tends to be anyone who makes his or her living on that nectar—your local, experienced beekeeper. By necessity, these beekeepers have good information about what blooms when, and most are experienced enough to make a good guess from year to year. For instance, in the region in which I live, I can say with confidence that the first flush of dandelion bloom—that is, those early blooms on the south sides of buildings in protected locations—will be the last week in April. Knowing that, with equal confidence I can say that the first day of what I call field bloom will be within the first ten days of May. Thankfully, there are a couple of other ways to make that same prediction, other than through the accumulation of decades of experience.

First, keep good records. When I first moved to my current geographic region, I kept good, consistent records for several years. And every year, dandelions had field bloom sometime during the first ten days of May. After a few years my record keeping flagged—I had internalized the calendar, or so I thought.

But extended warm or cold spells and other weather events cause the dates of first bloom to change. Warmer weather may produce earlier bloom, and an extended cold spell or a late snow can delay bloom by days, maybe many weeks.

Does a week or two make much of a difference? Well, when bloom lasts only a week or ten days, you’ve missed getting ready by half of the bloom if it’s early. And that’s half of the honey crop you were planning on or your bees needed for buildup.

10/12/2012 12:02:30 AM

The important point that the article forgets to mention is the inspections required in some areas by the state department of agriculture or the local board of health. A beekeeper planning on selling honey needs to carefully plan the extraction and bottling locations. The rest of the article is very well written and I enjoyed the presentation.

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