How to display your honey at market

When it comes to making sales the key goal is simple: grab your customer’s attention! And that’s exactly what a well-planned and thought-out display does. But there’s much more to marketing your honey than by simply making it pretty.

Do you know how much to charge for your particular variety of honey? How exactly does one go about pricing fairly without going too high or too low?

And what about labels, jars, and oh, should you give out samples? I’m going to answer all of these questions and more.

Today we’re going to cover The 5 basic concepts that you need in order to market your honey successfully!

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honey display from a local beekeeper
You’re providing an experience more than a product. Make your customers feel good about their experience with you! Photo by Jonathan Hargus©

The 5 Concepts of Marketing, Pricing & Displaying your honey with success

First Concept- Honey varieties

There are hundreds of honey varieties ranging from common to rare, each unique to their own micro-climates throughout the earth.

The specific honey varieties available in your area, within range of your beehives, have a large part in determining the honey market in your area.

The first step for you is to educate yourself. It’s important to realize the difference between a honey/nectar flow and something else called incoming nectar.

Incoming nectar is when there are wildflowers and trees blooming enough to provide plenty of food for the colony but not enough to produce surplus honey for harvesting.

5 honey bears of 5 different honey varieties
Here are 5 distinct honey varieties, each labeled simply for the sake of keeping track of them. Photo by Jonathan Hargus©

A honey/nectar flow means that there is so much blooming that the bees gather way more than they’ll need, creating an opportunity for the beekeeper to have a honey harvest.

Assuming that you are not familiar with the plant forage available in your area year-round, I would like to recommend my number one favorite beekeeping book, American Honey Plants by Frank C. Pellett.

This book goes into incredible depth describing hundreds of major and minor nectar sources in each State.


Second Concept- The Elements that determine pricing

There are several elements that determine the honey market (prices) but we will NOT be talking about the element that covers selling your honey to a honey bottler, which price is determined through moisture content and color.

So the elements we will be considering are the following:

Supply- How much honey do you have?

Supply is determined by more than how much honey your beehives make. There is a virtual ‘community market’ if you will.

How much honey of a particular variety was produced by all the beekeepers in your area, is what helps to determine the supply.

For example, in my area of the north Georgia mountains, there is always a surplus of Wildflower honey. So the price for this honey will not be very competitive because most beekeepers harvested plenty to go around.

However, Sourwood honey does not produce consistently from year to year and it is in high demand.

barrel of honey
Here’s a barrel of my first 55 gallons of Blackberry Tulip. I went on to harvest 10 more gallons. Photo by Jonathan Hargus©

Therefore, if the supply is generally low across the board, the pricing will be more competitive IF the honey is in high demand, which Sourwood happens to be.

Anywhere that bees are kept will produce between 1-3 yearly harvests depending on your location. Most areas produce two harvests a year which means you’re likely to have at least a couple of varieties available for your potential customers.

I recommend learning what those are, not simply by name (wildflower) but by paying very close attention to exactly which floral sources your honey consists of, this will help you with marketing against the competition later.

Demand- Do people want your honey?

Demand can be either high, low or in between. Ideally you want people to really like the honey produced in your area.

This is also where an important factor comes into play: knowing what floral sources go into making your honey variety.

In my 18+ years experience, I’ve learned that most beekeepers are ignorant of the plant world. They think they know what’s in their honey but don’t actually pay attention, assuming that it’s the same every year. But it’s not!

For example, the primary spring floral sources here during a nectar/honey flow are Blackberry blossoms and Tulip Poplar blossoms.

Some years they bloom separately and other years their blooms overlap. So I will either have Blackberry Honey, Tulip Poplar Honey, or Blackberry Tulip Honey which produced 85 gallons from 25 hives in the spring of 2019.

Most beekeepers in my area label their spring crop as ‘Wildflower.’ Boring! Why not learn what goes into making the honey and marketing that information to your customers?

honey display
My newest display has grabbed the attention of more customers than ever before. Photo by Jonathan Hargus©

When people come up to my table at the market and see honey labeled Blackberry Tulip, they want to sample it and 9 times out of 10 they buy a jar.

The only time honey should be labeled as ‘Wildflower’ is when there are multiple floral sources involved in its makeup. My summer crop this year is labeled Wildflower because it consists of at least five different floral sources.

Rarity- Is your honey common, uncommon or rare?

The rarity of your honey is going to play a huge factor in pricing.

Keep in mind that rare doesn’t mean that your honey is in high demand because if it’s rare, then there’s a chance that most people don’t know about it.

Rare honeys are mostly popular to the local area they’re produced in because those are the people exposed to that particular variety of honey.

Common and uncommon honey has its place too but the prices are generally lower. Common honey goes hand-in-hand with a large supply.

For example, Clover honey is extremely common and that’s why it’s cheap. Not only that, but it’s mostly produced by commercial beekeepers meaning that it gets sold to bottling companies.

Sourwood honey
During my research, I discovered that Sourwood honey varies between $15-$30 per pound depending on the quality (Pure or blended). Photo by Jonathan Hargus©

Honey bottling companies heat their honey, killing the vitamins and making the honey no longer raw.

Uncommon and rare varieties are generally produced, bottled and sold by the beekeeper directly to the consumer.

This means that most of the time, you’re getting a higher quality product than grocery store honey and prices should reflect that.

I say most of the time because there are many hobby beekeepers as well as commercial with questionable practices that involve chemicals and adulterated honey. I know…it’s sad.

So, the area that you live in and your beehives produce honey will determine the Supply (high or low), Demand (high or low) and the Rarity of your honey (common, uncommon, rare).

Pricing your honey

Discover what the local honey prices are in your area from other local beekeepers. Do not use local grocery store prices as a comparison. That honey is of lower quality and therefore a lower value.

After I learned what other beekeepers were charging in my area, I went a little above that and priced my honey at $12 per pound.

My reasoning behind this was based on these elements: Beekeeping is hard work, I have to get stung so that my customers do not, I do not use harsh chemicals in my hives, I live in a low-pesticide area, my honey is wild-cultivated which means no orchards or groves planted by man, it’s raw and never heated, it’s local and my varieties are often rare.


Third Concept- Displaying your honey

Your goal is to attract potential customers and wow them!

There are several factors involved (go figure) when it comes to displaying your goods. You can do as little or as much as you want.

So what kinds of things should you consider when displaying your honey?

*Jars/bottles– in my area, most of the locals are wary of buying honey in plastic containers because they think it’s adulterated. So as a result, I use glass jars.

*Signs– signs tell customers things about your honey like price, size, variety, raw, local, wild cultivated, etc.

*Table/base– what are you going to display your honey on? Plastic fold-up table with a table cloth, rustic wooden table, wooden crates? It’s totally up to you.

*Color scheme– keep colors in mind when displaying your hard-earned harvest. Think about using colors that work well with honey and possibly their complementary colors as well.

*Honey labels– your honey labels should be unique to your business and should also conform to the rules and regulations in place in your local area. In my area I have to display my name, address and the word ‘honey’ must be large and obvious somewhere on the label.


Fourth Concept- Labeling your honey

Yeah I know, we just talked about this. But wait! Labeling your honey is a huge part of marketing your honey and deserves its own thing.

Why? Because your label is your mark, your trade and your brand. It’s how people recognize you and what you do.

I urge you to take your time thinking about this part. Look at my label for example:

Bee Native. My logo is two feathers striped like honey bees. I use the two colors yellow and purple because they’re complementary colors.

The feathers play a double role: they indicate the Native American aspect of how my business got started. I used a Native American Tipi to hand-build all of my own original beekeeping equipment.

It also represents native bees. My personal method of beekeeping is to maintain fewer hives per apiary, thereby supporting the native bee population by lowering local competition for available forage.


Fifth Concept- Your customers

This is the part where you get to interact with people and illustrate what you stand for.

Are you chemical free? Perhaps you have a high demand honey and want people to know.

One thing you should definitely do is to give out free samples of your honey varieties. Let them know what you have and invite them to try any of them.

Take the time to listen what your customers are looking for and tell them how your product fits their needs.

And don’t get too discouraged when people leave your table empty handed, it will happen a lot. But on the plus side, there will be even more people that leave happy with what you provide.

I’ve observed that one of the most important things that your customers want to know is if your honey is local.


In a nutshell

Educate yourself about the honey varieties that your bees produce and let people know about it!

Remember that what you have is high quality stuff, so don’t undersell yourself but do your homework so that you’re not overpriced either.

Engage with your customers and find out what’s important to them, then let them know how your product fills that need.

Choose a logo/label that fits with you and your operation.

Get creative with how you display your honey. Do some research for ideas but in the end, I encourage you to do something original.

Until next time, remember,

~Weeds are Wildflowers, let them Bee!~

Jonathan Hargus/Marketeer extraordinaire

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