Why we started The Neighbourhood Honey Project.
by Adrian K.
I was a commercial beekeeper for four years, and ended up developing two brands of honey that I sold across 50 stockists. I saw a lot of things in the industry, but these two things really bothered me:
1. Beekeepers as a species aren’t great at telling their stories.
2. Small beekeepers are assaulted with a barrage of legislation, rules and red tape that are kinda silly
Storytelling as a way to Achieve Success
Beeks are a down-to-earth bunch. They value hard work, are often incredibly practical, and have an amazing ability to make wonderful honey – but they often don’t see the value in their own story. But producing honey can be a rustic, mysterious adventure that interests a lot of people.
Your story is the key to letting your customers know how special your product is. It’s that little bit of magic that sticks in people’s heads and pops to the surface when they’re thinking about buying some honey – “Oh, that’s the guy who is teaching his children how to run a hive!”. It’s the thing that dodgy manufacturers and mass producers can never own, so it’s the key to helping people differentiate between the real deal, and the other stuff on the supermarket shelves. In real terms, it’s the thing that allows you to charge what your honey is worth.
When the honey season starts, beeks often find themselves discounting their top-shelf honey in a price-war against supermarket brands, and cheaper products on Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and Kijiji. It upsets me to see people not getting rewarded for their efforts, knowing just how hard it was for both the bees and beekeepers to produce a top notch batch. Your story is your brand, and your product PLUS your brand is what people will pay a few dollars more for.
Beekeeping Laws of The Jungle
When confronted by laws on labelling, food handling, councils and municipalities and their unneccesarily expensive, ever-growing (and sometimes just bureaucratically silly, IMHO) list of requirements, beeks often find themselves ignoring these expenses for as long as they can. Why? Because, honey as a hobby, sideliner or job is an expensive game. Some people just can’t afford to meet the requirements for the 60 jars of honey they pump out a year. So they have a product in quantities they can’t possibly consume themselves. Once they saturate their networks they can’t give it away either, but legally, they’re not supposed to sell it either. Sometimes I feel councils make it intentionally hard for beekeepers because they don’t want them in their councils! Food safety is the primary concern, but honey is one of the most food stable products ever to grace a pantry! Primary concerns are recall procedure, recording batch tracing and glass chips in containers. Some people just ignore the rules, and councils do understand somewhat, so they turn a blind eye to the massive quantities of honey on Facebook marketplace, Gumtre, Kikiji. I think we can all do better than that.
We’re On A Mission to Fix These Issues
We want to make those ‘sticking points’ (ahem) less sticky, or if possible, make them go away entirely. Our project objectives include:
• Simplifying the hard bits of telling a story by providing a unified voice, making it easier to recognise your honey as a premium product (whether you’re a dabbler, hobbyist, side-hustler, or full-timer).
• Helping beekeepers and their clients to value the quality of their superior product, so we don’t have to see your amazing product going for $8/kg on Facebook. We target a retail price of AU$30/kg for totally raw, unfiltered, ethically local honey.
• Going in to bat with local councils and municipalities for the small and artisan producers, to help beekeepers stay on the right side of food safety laws with proper labeling, batch control, beehive inspections and when required professional help.
• Promoting good handling of bees, and supporting beehives that are healthy and strong.
Together we can build a movement to help monitor bee health, support local, produce only real, pure honey, and help save the bees.
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