Do you want to start a honey bee farm? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a honey bee farming business with NO money and no experience.
Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample honey bee farming business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample honey bee farm marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for honey bee farms. In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting a honey bee farming business. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.
Table of Content
- Why Start a Honey Bee Farming Business?
- 1. Understand the Industry
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
- 7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
- 8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
- 9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- 17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
- 18. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
Why Start a Honey Bee Farming Business?
There are loads of business opportunities in the commercial farming industry and the bee farming and honey production business is one of them. Honey is known as one of the world’s healthiest foods and is eaten in all the continents of the world. It is mostly desired by those who are careful about their sugar intake.
Bee farming and honey production business is known to be a profitable business and has evolved from small scale into a global industry in most countries where it is carried out. Countries like United States of America, Canada, Brazil, Greece, Philippines, China, Japan, Thailand, India, Egypt, Caribbean countries and Nigeria have been farming bees on a large scale for a while now.
If you are looking to go into the bee farming and honey production business, the good news is that you can’t get it wrong. It is easy to start, cheap to maintain and it takes a short time to get a good return on your investment if you know the ropes.
Starting a bee farming and honey production business comes with its own fair share of challenges, but that does not rule out the fact that it is indeed a profitable business venture. An aspiring entrepreneur can either choose to start a bee farming and honey production business on a small scale or on a large scale depending on their financial status.
So, if you are serious about starting your own bee farming and honey production business, all you need do is to read this article and you will be well equipped. You can start your bee farming and honey production business from a small town in the United States and if you are consistent and creative, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes nationally recognized.
Starting a Honey Bee Farming Business – A Complete Guide
1. Understand the Industry
Farmers cum businesses in the bee farming industry raise bees and also collect and gather honey, sell live bees, royal jelly, bees’ wax, propolis, pollen, venom and other related bee products.
A closer study shows that the bee farming cum bee keeping industry has experienced volatile patterns, with rising import volumes and the threat of colony collapse adversely affecting its performance. For instance, with the increasing penetration of honey and bee products, there will definitely be a downward pressure on the price of bees and honey produced in the united states of America.
Statistics has it that in the United States of America alone, there are about 6,345 licensed and registered bee farms cum production companies directly responsible for employing about 28,061 employees and indirectly responsible for employing several thousands of people as well.
The industry rakes in a whooping sum of $380 million annually with an annual growth rate projected at 3.7 percent. It is important to state that there is no establishment with a lion share of the available market in this industry.
Research carried out by IBISWORLD shows that the Bee Framing industry has a high level of capital intensity. They also estimated that for every dollar spent on labor, bee farmers invest $0.96 in capital equipment. Frames and containers are a necessary requirement for bee farming, and producers may also purchase nucleus colonies, which already consist of frames and bees, enabling a hassle-free establishment of a hive.
So also, some bee farmers require extracting equipment and bottling materials for honey production. Other industry-relevant supplies include smoking equipment (also known as smokers) and protective gear. Smokers generate smoke that calms bees, while also masking alarm pheromones released by guard bees. As a result, while a smoker is at work, bee farmer can open the hive and work without triggering a defensive reaction.
If you are looking towards leveraging on the agriculture industry to generate huge income, then one of your best bet is to start a bee farm and honey production business. One thing is certain about starting bee farming and honey production business, if you are able to conduct your market research and feasibility studies, you are likely not going to struggle to sell your live bees and honey because there are always food processing companies and consumers out there who are ready to buy from you.
Some of the factors that encourage entrepreneurs to start their own bee farms and honey production business are that the business is easy to set up and they can easily get support from the government. You can actually start your own bee farm and honey production business in your compound if you live in a farming community. All you need to do is to purchase the first set of bees, purchase bee farming tools and then build your bee cage around you.
There are a few barriers to entry into the bee farm and honey production industry as all inputs are readily available. In the nearest future, players in this industry may face the highest costs associated with accessing technology especially in relation to genetic modification engineering in bee breeding.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographics composition of those who consume honey is not restricted to a group of people. People of different races and cultures consume honey hence the market for bee farming and honey production business is all encompassing.
So, if you are looking towards defining the demographics for your bee farming and honey production business, then you should make it all encompassing. It should include bakeries, confectionery businesses, households, drinks and beverage production companies, hotels, restaurants and businesses that rely on the supply of honey.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
There is no niche area in the bee farming and honey production business, every player in the industry simply farm bees for the purpose of honey production. On the other hand, a bee farmer in addition to honey production may decide to major in any of the under listed;
- Bee production
- Beeswax production
- Queen bee production
- Honeybee production
- Propolis production
- Bee pollen collection
- Sale of live bees
- Sale of other bee related products
- Pollination services
The Level of Competition in the Industry
The level of competition in the bee farms and honey production industry to some extent depends largely on the capacity of your bee farm and honey production business. If you can successfully add honey processing and packaging to your bee farming business, you are likely going to experience little or no competition.
For instance, if you are the only bee farm and honey production business in your location that is into honey processing and packaging, you can successfully monopolize the market for a long time before you start having competitions.
It is important to also state that the competition in the bee farms and honey production industry depends on the scale of your bee farm. There are bee farms and honey production companies in the United States that are competing with global bee farms and there are bee farms and honey production companies in the United States that can only compete at the local level.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
In every industry, there are always brands that perform better or are better regarded by customers and general public than the others. These are some of the leading bee farms and honey production companies in the United States of America and in the globe;
- Poor Valley Bee Farm
- Walker Honey Farm
- Wolf Honey Farm Inc.
- Lazy Bee Farm
- Team BEE Farms
- American Beekeeping Federation
- Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
- Marshall’s Farm Honey
- Super Bee Orchard
- 3 Bee Farms
- Busy Barns Adventure Farm LLC
- North American Bee Hive Co.
- Bemis Honey Bee Farm
- Wilbanks Apiaries
- Y S Royal Jelly & Honey Farms
- Busy Bee Farm
- Brushy Mountain Bee Farm
- Bee Well Honey Bee Supply
- BeeKind Farms
When starting a bee farm and honey production business, you just have to get your costing cum economic analysis right if your intention of building the business is to generate profit, grow the business and start exporting processed and packaged honey within your country and other countries of the world.
When conducting costing and economic analysis for your bee farm and honey production business, you just have to critically examine these key factors; access to the market, access to cheap labor and of course good climatic condition.
As a matter of fact, you would have to continue to review these key factors at regular intervals while running your bee farm and honey production business. As a bee farm and honey production business owner, you just have to have proper grasp of your competitive landscape if indeed you want to maximize profits and be in the frontline of the industry.
It is important to note that medication/treatment and feeds cost are some of the most important factors contributing to the overall cost of a bee farm and honey production business and should be considered as a major factor when carrying out your costing and economic analysis.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
If you are looking towards starting a bee farm and honey production business, you would have to start from the very scratch because you can hardly get the franchise of a bee farm and honey production business to buy. It is a business that is open to all and sundry.
Besides starting a bee farm and honey production business from the scratch is less stressful when compared to other small scale businesses. With a bee farm and honey production business, you should just try as much as possible to secure your business license, pool your startup/working capital, secure a good farm land in a good location, build business relationships with key stakeholders and then leverage on every marketing tool within your disposal to market your business.
Please note that most of the big and successful bee farms started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success and of course you can build your own bee farm and honey production business to become a successful brand with corporate and individual customers in your city and across the length and breadth of the United States of America.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
If you decide to start your own bee farm and honey production business today, one of the major challenges you are likely to face is the presence of well – established bee farm and honey production companies in your target market location. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market; concentrate on households, individuals, small restaurants and hotels that need a steady supply of honey from bee farms.
Some other threats and challenges that you are likely going to face when you start your own bee farm and honey production business are global economic downturn that can impact negatively on household spending, bad weather cum natural disasters (droughts, epidemics), unfavorable government policies and the arrival of a competitor within the same location.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
- Best legal entity to use for this type of business
You have the option of either choosing a general partnership, limited liability company which is commonly called an LLC, or a sole proprietorship for a bee farm and honey production business. If your intention is to grow the business and sell your honey all across the United States of America and other countries of the world, then choosing sole proprietorship is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC or even general partnership will cut it for you.
Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholders meetings and other managerial formalities.
These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your bee farm and honey production business; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners, investors’ expectation and taxes. You can start this type of business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or an ‘S’ corporation especially when you have the plans of going public.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
Generally, when it comes to Choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. If you are considering starting your own bee farm and honey production business, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;
- Ground Zero Bee Farm and Honey Production Ltd
- Queens Court® Bee Farm and Honey Production, LLC
- Comely Jones & Sons Bee Farm and Honey Production, Inc.
- Victor Peterson Bee Farm and Honey Production Ltd.
- Corner Street Bee Farm and Honey Production, LLC
- Cindy Crest Bee Farms and Honey Production Ltd.
- Starlets Bee Farm and Honey Production, Inc.
- Leon Williams Bee Farms and Honey Production, Inc.
- Emmanuel San Diego Bee Farms and Honey Production, Inc.
- Trend Square Bee Farms and Honey Production, LLC
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. Thus, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your bee farm and honey production business.
Here are some of the basic insurance covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own bee farm and honey production business in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Health insurance
- Liability insurance
- Animal Mortality Insurance
- Farm Equipment and Auto Insurance
- Commercial Agribusiness Insurance
- Workers Compensation
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
- Payment protection insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are considering starting your own a bee farm and honey production business, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection. This is because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run the business without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.
But if you just want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
When it comes to operating a bee farm, you do not need to have any formal training or special certification before you can be allowed to open and operate a bee farm and honey production business. All you need is informal training that will expose you to the in and out of the bee farm and honey production business.
On the other hand, if you come across any form of certification that can aid you to conduct your bee farm and honey production business satisfactorily, then by all means try and pursue such certification.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
The essence of having the necessary documentation in place before launching a business in the United States of America cannot be overemphasized. It is a fact that you can successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hands of the law catches up with you.
These are some of the basic legal document that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own bee farm and honey production business in the United States of America;
- Business and liability insurance
- Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration for distribution truck
- Appropriate driver’s licenses for drivers
- Assistant’s licenses for assistants
- Health inspection Certificate
- Proof of ownership, proper identification and vehicle license
- Tax Payer’s ID
- Fire certificate
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License
- Business Plan
- Non – disclosure Agreement
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Employee’s Handbook
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Farm Partnership Agreement
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Starting a standard and well – equipped bee farm and honey production business can be capital intensive especially if you choose to launch a large scale bee farm with the capacity to supply honey beyond your immediate community.
Securing a large farm land, building well – secured and conducive bee housing facility, purchase of the first set of juvenile bees and bees farming and honey production tools/equipment (protective gear, smoker, hive tool, bee brush, honey extracting equipment, comb puller, wax sheet maker, wax heating pot, moisture indicator and thermometer et al) are part of what will consume a large chunk of your startup capital.
Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your bee farm and honey production business;
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Sell shares to interested investors
- Applying for Loan from your Bank
- Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from government, donor organizations and angel investors
- Source for soft loans from family members and friends
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
Starting a bee farm and honey production business comes with its own challenges; it is a business that cannot be started in any location of your choice. As a matter of fact, you will not be allowed to start a bee farm in a residential estate in the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. The only location you can be allowed to start a bee farm and honey production business is in a farm land designated for bee farming and it is usually in the outskirts of town.
If you are new to the dynamics of choosing a location for a business such as bee farm and honey production business, then you should feel free to talk to a business consultant or a realtor who has full grasp of the city and perhaps country you intend starting your bee farm and honey production business.
Most importantly, before choosing a location for your bee farm and honey production business, ensure that you first conduct a thorough feasibility studies and market survey. The possibility of you coming across similar business that just closed shop in the location you want to start yours can’t be ruled out, which is why it is very important to gather as much facts and figures before choosing a location to set – up your own bee farm and honey production business.
These are some of the key factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your bee farm;
- The demography of the location
- The demand for honey in the location
- The purchasing power of the residents of the location
- Accessibility of the location
- The number of bee farms and honey production businesses in the location
- The local laws and regulations in the community
- Traffic, parking and security
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
When it comes to starting a standard bee farm and honey production business, you will need to construct safe and standard bee hives, and acquire bee and honey production tools and equipment. This equipment can be purchased as fairly used if your budget is low.
When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing a farm land for your bee farm and honey production business, the size of the bee farm and honey production business you want to own, and your entire budget for the business should influence your choice. If you have enough capital to run a pretty large and well – equipped bee farm and honey production business, then you should consider the option of long lease or out rightly purchasing a farm land.
As regards the number of employees that you are expected to kick start the business with, you would need to consider your finance before making the decision. When it comes to starting a standard bee farm and honey production business on a large scale, you would need the services of the following professionals; Chief Operating Officer (you can occupy this position), General Farm Manager, , Accountant/Cashier, Sales and Marketing Executive, Bee Farmers/Field Employees, Cleaners, and Security Guards.
You would need a minimum of 5 to 10 key staff members to effectively run a medium scale but standard bee farm and honey production business. Please note that there will be times when you are expected to go out of your way to hire experts to help you handle some job functions.
If you are just starting out, you may not have the financial capacity or required business structure to retain all the professionals that are expected to work with you which is why you should make plans to partner with vet clinics around you.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
When it comes to operational activities of a bee farm and honey production business, the process is simple and straight forward. As a matter of fact, a bee farm and honey production business can successfully run on auto – pilot with little or no supervision from the owner.
Basically when the bee casing/bee hives and the required facility has been put in place and the juvenile bees placed inside, then every morning and evening and perhaps afternoon, the bees are fed.
Once the bees are matured and start producing honey, the honey is harvested with the aid of honey harvesters and then sold to buyers or they are transported to farm markets or to drinks and beverage factories where honey is used as part of their raw materials.
It is important to state that though the above stated is the ideal business process of a bee farm and honey production business, a bee farm and honey production business may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them good return on their investments.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- Marketing ideas and strategies
As a bee farmer, you would have to prove that you have the capacity to not only manage a bee farm, but to also supply honey in commercial quantities on a consistent basis. So, if you have plans to start your own bee farm and honey production business, it will pay you to first build your capacity before sourcing to supply honey to larger food processing and packaging companies who required honey supplies from bee honey production companies.
The fact that the entry barrier for starting a small – scale bee farm and honey production business is low means that there is bound to be more players in the industry no matter the location you choose to start yours. In essence, you must come up with creativity and innovations if you must carve out a market for yourself within the available market in your community, city, state or country.
Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your honey and its produce;
- Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to households, hotels, restaurants, food processing and packing companies that need steady supply of honey, grocery stores, bakeries, confectionary businesses and related businesses in the United States (if you are just starting out, you may want to concentrate on start – ups and smaller businesses)
- Promptness in bidding for honey supply contracts
- Open your bee farm and honey production business with a party so as to capture the attention of residents who are your first targets
- Engage in roadshows in targeted communities from time to time to sell your honey
- Advertise your bee farm and honey production business in community based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
- List your business and products on yellow pages ads (local directories)
- Leverage on the internet to promote your bee farm and honey production business
- Engage in direct marketing and sales
- Encourage the use of Word of mouth marketing (referrals)
- Leverage on the internet to promote your business (when you blog regularly on key issues as it relates to your business, people would consider you an expert in the field)
- Join local chambers of commerce and industry around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your products; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks
- Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing for you
17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
One key factor that will help you sell your honey at a price that is highly attractive is to ensure that you source your startup capital from sources that won’t put pressure on you or give you high interest rate. So also, when it comes to juvenile bee supply, bee farming and honey production equipment and tools, feed and medications, it is advisable that you also purchase them directly from the manufacturers or from wholesalers.
Another strategy that will help you sell your honey at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum, channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your services.
You can also try as much as possible to work with independent contractors and marketers; it will help you save cost of paying sales and marketing executives.
18. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If your intention of starting a bee farm and honey production business is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand by supplying honey all across the United States and to other countries of the world, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.
No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is a dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Your corporate identity has a lot to do when it comes to building a profitable business.
Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand awareness and create corporate identity for your bee farm and honey production business;
- Place adverts on both print (newspapers and magazines) and electronic media platforms
- Sponsor relevant community based events/programs
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your business
- Install your billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
- Engage in roadshows from time to time in targeted neighborhoods
- Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
- Contact households, hotels, restaurants, food processing and packaging companies that need regular supply of honey, grocery stores, bakeries, confectionary businesses and related businesses in your target areas by calling them up and informing them of your bee farm and honey production business
- List your bee farm and honey production business in local directories
- Advertise your bee farm and honey production business in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site.
- Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles and trucks are well branded with your company logo et al.
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