Honey Pricing

After ordering labels next came the second most difficult task of pricing the honey.  If you didn’t know previously I live in Eastern Central Indiana, about an hour east of Indianapolis and an hour north of Cincinnati.  The closest large-ish town is Richmond, IN.  Much like the rest of the United States, this is “Wal-Mart Country”.

I don’t see the word QUALITY in this logo.

Someone earlier this week asked how much I was asking for honey.  After telling them the price I got a strange look and was told, “that’s high”. I remained calm, but was a little irritated.  A million things were going on inside my head. It got me thinking about the value Americans put on things.

My honey is priced only slightly more per pound than a gallon of gas, yet aside from griping about it people never refuse to buy gas because it’s “too high”.  It costs only slightly more per pound than one fast food meal.  A 1 pound bottle of honey will last a person weeks.  The effects of a “Number 3” at any fast food joint may be on someone’s hips for years, but they scarf it down in 15 minutes or less and that money is gone.  One pound is priced right about what a pack of cigarettes is and I see people buying them every day.

Let’s look at it from different angle.  I know the medical community maintains that honey is no different from placebo for allergy symptoms.  I am not going to take a chance at loosing my pharmacy license so I WILL NOT say honey is “indicated” for allergies.  Everyone should do their own research and come to their own determination on the subject.  Let us just say that some have alleged that raw local honey may help with allergy symptoms.

While writing this post a 30 day supply of Allegra at DrugStore.com costs $19.99.  Allegra is an over the counter allergy medication.  According to most sites I have viewed NaturalNews.com is consistent with a proposed dose of honey for allergy symptoms of “a couple teaspoonfuls a day”.  Forgive me while I perform some nerdy pharmacy math. 

If honey was effective I would be SELLING MY HONEY WAY TOO CHEAP!!!!  A month supply for less than a third of what they are getting for Allegra.  Plus honey can be enjoyed as opposed to being swallowed down like a pill.  Too bad all of that anecdotal evidence is wrong and honey isn’t effective………

What is that dark stuff on the shelf and where did it come from?

I cannot and will not compete with the pricing structure at large chain grocery stores.  For what Wal-Mart sells a pound of honey I can cover the price of the container, lid and label.  At that point I am nearly giving the honey away.  Raw, treatment free honey is not on Wal-Mart’s shelves at least in my area.  I am looking for an entirely different market.  In the event a customer is not satisfied with my product they can speak to me, the producer directly.  Good luck with that at a big chain grocery store.  I have faith in this product, just as I do the bees that produce it.  I believe I am selling a good product at a fair price.  I have had nothing but positive feedback from the many sales already made from this years crop.

“forget organic – even the word honey itself is not yet defined in U.S. law, and any jar of honey can be adulterated with cheaper ingredients like corn syrup and still be labeled quite legally as “pure honey” – unbelievable but true.  If it is found to contain an illegal substance, then it will be taken off the shelves, but that aside, there is no test for true honey – you could in theory sell a jar of colored sugar and water as honey.”


Price is not the only thing I think of when I make purchases.  Shouldn’t we be looking at quality a little more, especially when it comes to our food?  Many Americans say they want to feed their families good wholesome food until they look at what it is going to cost them in both money and the time to prepare it.  Too many say to themselves….  “I could spend a little more on food OR I could have a cell phone with an unlimited data plan.”

Have a nice weekend.

I didn’t start beekeeping to get rich, and it’s working out just fine!



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9 Responses to Honey Pricing

  1. Well said.

    My honey harvest has not gone according to the “business plan”. I need to get better at beekeeping and creating strong colonies which produce more honey.

    • Jason says:

      I find it hard to adhere to a strict plan. I am experimenting still too much to have a “plan for success”. I have learned several ways to fail. Just keep observing and you will get better at it.

      I still have so much to learn, but find it hard to imagine how clueless I was just a couple of years ago. With the use of the Internet bee keepers can converse in almost real time complete with multi-media. It gives us hobby/small scale bee keepers a real chance to work together on our “business plans”, share our success and failures. It is an exciting time to be a bee keeper.

  2. Sam says:

    I find it rather amusing/annoying, when you look at food prices and hear about farmers going out of business. It used to be that food was very valuable, we would spend most of our time gathering it, now it takes up about 14% of ones income, yet it is one of the things we truly can NOT live without, were as gas or electricity make our lives more comfortable food makes it actually possible. I suppose the relative cheapness of food has breed a corresponding attitude towards it (at least in north america). Honestly I have given up on the commercial side of beekeeping and am settling with the fun side.

    • Jason says:

      There have been several marathon butchering, food processing, canning and freezing sessions at my house over the last five years. It is a lot of work to even approach 50% self sufficiency on food. Food is cheap at the store, almost too cheap. As you say, it makes you lose perspective. Does the Canadian government subsidize food?

      I am never planning on being a commercial beekeeping magnate or anything. What I am doing these days is the most fun I have ever had with any hobby. I just have a side effect of honey, propolis and hope to have excess bees soon. I can’t eat 500# of honey in a year. I just mainly want to cover some expenses and use the money to buy future equipment.

      My main goal with bees is to build better genetics in this area. There are already some good lines still surviving in pockets around. I want to increase their numbers by getting them in good locations and hope to get them in the hands of other beekeepers around here practicing feed and treatment free methods.

  3. Adam Stevens says:

    It’s all about your market. Who your customer is. I can imagine it’s tough for you, in “Wal-Mart” country. We live in a more rural area, near Seattle, and there is a big groundswell in the area for local, sustainable, ethical food. Folks understand that it’s going to cost more. Some folks. Others are looking for the ‘walmart deal’ the people who what to bring their own jars, to ‘get a discount’, or gripe about paying $6 per LB for our honey. I often explain the cost of packages (about $100 locally) and a queen ($25-$45 each) as well as the startup cost of beekeeping, and the fact that it’s farming, there is no ‘sure bet’. That often falls on deaf ears however. Those folks aren’t our customers, and we don’t waist our time trying to make them our customers. If they want walmart honey, I point them in the right direction. Some folks want to know why ours is ‘so expensive’. I can explain to them the differences, and point out that I’m a hobbyist, just looking to offset our costs. The jars alone are almost $1.00 each. And some times folks are happy to buy our honey, even when they know they can get ‘honey’ cheaper (even local honey at the organic coop is $4.50 per lb). Those are our customers. The folks we will seek out with product ideas, with special offers. Joel Salatin has a lot to say about marketing, and building a customer base, and figuring out who your customer is. Once you have that dialed in, your products will sell themselves. We sold out of honey in 12 days. That’s 7# per day, and all I did was post twice on Facebook (on my farm wall, and a Organic Living group that’s local to our area) Sold out of clean wax too. At $24 per lb.

    • Jason says:

      Since that post things have been going well. I sold 25# in one day this week. The more I sell the more seems to be demanded. I have had several customers, buy a pound one day, then buy 3 or 4 the next. The honey this year is exceptional. All it really took was some people to buy it and try it.

      I hear ya on bottling costs. I look at honey at big stores and just wonder how they can afford to sell things so cheap. They must purchase on such a scale that bottles are almost free.

      WOW $24 for wax?!? That is amazing. I have many pounds of it here. Not all of it is clean though. I have been rotating out all of the old comb that started with foundation. It will take two more years for all of the deeps with foundation to be gone, but at that price it will be worth all the time and effort. My cappings should all be clean. Do you mind me asking who your wax buyer was? (you can e-mail it if you don’t want to post it.)

      • Adam Stevens says:

        I think with places like WalMart, it’s about volume. If they make a dime on a bottle, that’s fine, as they are selling 100,000 per year.

        As far as the wax goes, some local folks who wanted clean, non-medicated wax for lip balms, ointments, and homeopathic remedies were more than happy to buy local, wax (and honey) from us. They are also the folks who buy our pasture turkeys, and beg for veggies, and extra organic eggs when we have them to sell. They are some of our best customers. It kind of goes back to finding your customers, or the niche market you want to reach. You can look for groups who are into ‘wild crafting’, organic holistic lifestyles, organic food, Naturopathic healthcare, and the kinds of people who watch movies like “Fresh”, “Food Inc.”, “King Corn”, “The Vanishing of the Bees”. If there is a food Co-op in the area, that might be a place to post an add.

        • Jason says:

          I just need to give it time. I just haven’t been doing this long enough to have an established market. I will be looking for people who want to make homeopathic remedies. The honey is beginning to sell itself now. A lot of the people who bought some weeks ago are returning for me. It is a good feeling.

          Thanks for the advice.

          • Colino says:

            I carry around a small container of my honey and some Popsicle sticks. One taste of fresh unadulterated raw honey and they generally buy. Most times it’s a couple pounds.

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