What's extra honey? I wish I had another 200-300 lbs right now. The plus side is that we already have honey supers on some of the stronger hives so we may be able to get some more fairly quick.
We did about 1000 lbs from last summer and we have maybe 50 lbs that we haven't extracted and sold (We find that storing the last that we take off in the honey supers/frames works pretty good as long as it is kept cool.) we have maybe 15 lbs packaged at the moment. This means we don't have enough to justify doing some of the late spring, early summer gift shows/fairs that I'd like to try plus we are rationing our normal customers.
If we hadn't held back on selling we would have run out a while ago. Here's one hint if you are selling honey (retail) as a business: Repeat customers are worth gold! We have people who buy 15-20 lbs every 2-3 months and they pay full retail. I absolutely want to make sure I have something for them when they call.
Just picture 100 people buying 60 to 100 lbs a year at retail prices. It will take a few years to build up our clientele but that allows us to build up our apiaries at a slower pace. That is, matching production to sales.
We only cold process and the largest batch that we normally extract is 4 frames (what our extractor holds). We match the frames in a batch for color and taste so we have a lot of variation from batch to batch. We only filter the honey through cheesecloth.
I also have a bunch of fancy bottles (hearts, wavy squares, etc) with corks that I was able to pick up when someone else went out of business (not honey). These really attract attention at fairs and holiday gift shows.
We also think we will get good sales synergy with our black walnuts. Actually, adding black walnuts to our offering increases our ability to sell over the internet. The walnuts (in the shell) make great packing material for the honey bottles and help rationalize the value equation. The walnuts our lightweight but take up volume and the honey is dense. The walnuts add enough value that the shipping cost becomes a smaller percentage of the value of the purchase.
So again, what extra honey?
also, do y'all think a pound of chunk comb honey is worth $6.50 wholesale? the store could then sell it for $7.50 retail. just wondering... again
There was a write up in Bee Culture about a company that had special packaging/frames for doing comb. Basically, plastic packs that have the comb imprint on the bottom so that the comb is made right in the plastic container. Remove the bottom from the frame, snap on the top and you are ready to go. They chose 4 OZ as the size to do because it was more convenient for most prospective customers. More like a "candy" treat. At some point I'll look into doing cut comb but there hasn't been that much interest in it from customers. I think you'll do better with smaller packages and maybe skipping pouring honey over it. Maybe offer it both ways to see.
I don't know what comb wholesales for but your pricing sounds high to me. You may get your price and sell out if your production isn't too big. On the other hand, there isn't much money on the table for the store. If you move 100 lbs through them in a year it's only $100 gross margin to them. I don't think they will do many turns on the shelf space. Even if it is on consignment it's just not a lot of money for them.
We are talking with a premium food store and looking at 50 lbs/month minimum and several promotion days when we will come in and offer samples at the store and resulting in extra sales). We still haven't figured out a price schedule for selling through the store. This will be the first time we are selling through someone else. Also, we are moving slowly so that we can see how 2004 starts shaping up. Our own retail customers come first.
We sold 2003 honey based on $4 a lb retail. I'm thinking we underpriced our market pricepoint and should have been at $5 per pound. Understand that a lot of people in our region are selling their honey at $3/lb and happy to get it. Then again, they are just selling from their roadside stand in more remote locations. Bulk processing, etc. The local supermarkets have honey (Suebee, whatever) for $3 to $4 per pound. Because of how we process and the fact that there are no chemical sprays in the forage area we can get a premium for our production.
I've seen cut comb and raw honey in health food stores at $7.50 to $8.50 per lb but you can tell that they have been sitting on the shelves for a while. I want people to enjoy what we product as fresh as possible. While honey doesn't go bad I firmly believe that fresh honey is better than honey that has been sitting around for a while.
We are always testing packaging. Our two biggest sellers are 1 lb rounds (like a deli tub) and 12 oz bears.
We have had several people ask us about pollen and propylis. We picked up a couple propylis traps this year and will try them out. Maybe I'll look into pollen next year.
Sorry for blathering on but I figure talking about pricing/marketing models might be useful as you try to figure out what you want to do.