Selling your honey
Everyone knows that bees make honey, but beginner beekeepers are often surprised by exactly how much they produce.
More than just a hobby
Many Kiwi beekeepers start out as hobbyists, with one or two hives in a back garden or on a rural property, then make the jump to selling honey and beekeeping full time.
New queen for the old colony
Bee colonies revolve around their queen – but what happens when she’s gone? Although it’s not common, there are times when a beekeeper needs to introduce a new queen to an old colony. This happens if the queen dies or stops laying eggs, or if you need to split a hive and start a new colony.
Without a queen, there are no eggs, and without eggs, there are no new bees. So, lack of a queen can eventually lead to the loss of the colony, if you don’t take steps to fix the problem. Some colonies will be able to fix the problem themselves by creating a new queen, but this doesn’t always happen.
Process, package, profit
Like any food product, honey needs to be handled safely before it can be sold. In New Zealand, safety standards cover everything – processing, testing, packaging and labelling. If you want to sell your honey, you need to meet these standards – and prove that you’ve met them. But before you do that, here’s our rough guide to safe processing and packaging:
Managing wax cappings
The first honey harvest is a milestone for any new beekeeper. But honey isn’t the only useful substance made by bees. Beeswax, which is used to store and cover honey in the hive, is a valuable beekeeping by-product. Even if you’re not interested in using the wax yourself, it’s worth collecting and clarifying your wax for resale, or to give to friends. After all, your bees expend so much energy making and using wax, it seems wasteful to simply throw it away.
Making a move
Moving a beehive isn’t the easiest task, but sometimes it’s necessary. If you’re introducing new hives, changing the layout of your garden, moving house, selling a hive, or you simply feel that your bees would be better in a new position, you may need to make a move.
Gardening with bees in mind
Spring is the ideal time to revamp your garden and do some planting. If you’re a bee fan – whether you have hives or not – you might want to think about making your garden more attractive to bees. Of course, any flowering plant will bring in some bee activity, but there are some plants that are particularly appealing to the tiny foragers.
Honey is a high-value product, so if your bees are producing a lot, it makes sense to think about selling the excess. But it’s not quite as simple as jarring it up and taking it down to your local market. Because honey is a natural, ‘wholesome’ product, people tend to forget that it does have risks, and that food safety requirements apply. Making sure your honey is suitable for sale involves a number of different tests, to find out what test you need to be doing check out our guide on to honey testing.
Heat and Honey don't mix
For many beekeepers, honey is considered liquid gold - but few often realize how complex honey really is. Heating honey is surprisingly controversial, while it’s true that overheating honey can kill off the enzymes and antioxidants that make it so beneficial, claims that heated honey is actually poisonous have yet to be proven.