Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Price of Quallity

Critter commented about giving away half of her honey harvest the other day. Though it is a sweet thing to do I don't think it is all that wise for hobbyists or side-liners. Beekeeping is not an easy task, nor is it an inexpensive one. To get into this field properly it will cost you about a thousand dollars and more depending on how many colonies you purchase.

When people give their honey crop away it devalues all the work of your bees and all the effort you put into it. Add to that the jars and labeling. I sell my honey for $7 a pound and I probably come close to breaking even every year. Most people think the bees do all the work, but in reality I spend at least an hour every ten to twelve days thoroughly inspecting every frame, checking progress, looking for maladies and evaluating mid-stream changes of equipment and population.

When it is time to harvest the honey it usually takes about six hours to extract it from the frames. Bottling takes another four hours and labeling takes another four to five hours.

I don't feel guilty charging $7 a pound considering most of the processed honey on sale at the grocery store is going for close to the same amount. The product I sell is raw (unpasteurized)and the stuff in the store is processed to the point it is no longer honey.

Raw local honey is a premium product. The stuff that is sold at the Sunday Market isn't local. It comes from at least a hundred miles away where they have different flora, climate and soil minerals. The stuff you buy in stores is either from China or it comes from large-scale beekeeprs all over the country who sell their honey to distributors for around a dollar a pound and it is mixed together and processed into a dead product.

So even if you have a hard time selling your own product because you don't like exchanging money, you can always barter.

I don't mean to say that I don't give away some honey. I donate some to worthy causes for auctions and prizes. I give some to some neighbors so they can value what I am doing near them. I give some to people who can't afford to buy it, but most of the people I know can afford it and they know the difference between what is available at the market and the superior quality of what my bees have produced.


Anonymous auntie said...

your honey is the best. i get sad when we run out and have to buy 'store-bought' ick.

veri-word: "twarduka" (what's it mean, Rev?)

6:12 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

Well, those of us who received Critters largesse were duly grateful. It was good stuff and tastes way different than the stuff from around here. Honey with too much lead in it tastes funny. Look at it like a grand opening where they give away door prizes and free samples. Next harvest she'll have a built-in customer base. Or maybe I'm just hopeful and naive. It wouldn't surprise me.

Auntie- Twarduka is the droppings of the adolescent Indonesian Twar-twar beetle which local shamans (or paritr, which is my word) process into a powerful laxative.

7:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't suppose you know the name of the plant the bee is working on in your picture? Whatever it is has taken a firm hold on my elderly Fathers mostly neglected garden. It keeps blooming and the bees love it.

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The name of the plant in the photo is Borage, an herb.

1:20 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Auntie,order more than you need this year.

Darev, good point. she'll get them hooked this year and clean up after that.

Anons, yes that is borage. It is a late bloomer and the bees do love it. However as with late bloomers like borage and aster, the honey made from those flowers are more apt to crystallize. Some people like crystallized honey because it's a honey you can chew.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

Do you ship? I don't like the honey that we get here "locally". Let me know! :-)

12:39 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

(the above is me, dalia, BTW)

12:40 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Dalia, I do. Let me know what else you want and I'll put it all on one box. Shipping to Canada is around $25 US for fast by air and probably half that for slower truck. Just let me know. Honey is $7 per pound, the cream is $14 per jar and the lip balm is $2 per tube.

5:28 AM  

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