Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Beekeeping: A Buzzing Good Business

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Here’s a practical business opportunity for you: one that’s not exactly burdened with competition on eBay.

It’s all about selling to people who keep bees, and other regular buyers whose main interest in life is growing foodstuffs and undertaking other rural pursuits, in today’s case keeping bees and selling honey and other bee bi-products.

Beekeeping, also known as ‘bee keeping’ and ‘apiculture’, represents a fun hobby for some people, and a rich source of reliable, repeat profit for others.

Those profits await individuals who interact daily with their bees, making and harvesting honey and other bee products, for example, as well as firms supplying goods and services to help apiculturists keep their bees healthy and honey yield high.

Beekeeping is a tight niche market with massive potential for sellers on eBay and Amazon, or trading elsewhere on and off the Internet, and with easy access to other money-making opportunities.   So someone selling hives and other beekeeping supplies on eBay, for example, and from other websites, can very easily add a new string to his business, catering for people growing tomatoes, for instance, or keeping chickens and selling eggs, harvesting mushrooms, growing orchids and other exotic plants, and more besides.

I’ve chosen beekeeping for this article because it’s one of the fastest growing hobbies and small business ventures in Britain today, for several reasons:

*   Honey is one of the most nutritious foods available, being packed with health benefiting vitamins and renowned for curing a variety of common ailments.  Non-stop concerns about what goes into food is making society more health conscious and that is why some people turn to keeping bees and processing their own honey.  Then they’ll keep that honey for themselves or sell it through shops and other outlets.

*  Honey is always fresh, experts say it never goes stale, and because the beekeeper witnesses honey manufacturer from start to finish, there’s no chance of dangerous or unsavoury additives contaminating the product.

Consider recent cases of horse meat being found in products advertised as containing pure beef, and pork in foods promoted as meat free, and you’ll see why more people are turning to manufacturing their own food and overseeing every stage of the process.

*  Honey is just one natural food currently enjoying renewed interest among smallholders and families with large gardens.  Eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and vegetables are also extensively manufactured by families and allotment holders purely to ensure only the freshest, most natural ingredients enter the family’s diet.  Most importantly, all offer numerous money-making opportunities for our readers on eBay.

*  Beekeeping is enjoyable, interesting and challenging, and that’s all some beekeepers want from their hobby.  Good food and extra cash is just icing on the cake.

* ‘Home made’ honey is usually cheaper than the shop bought variety and useful for stretching the family budget, especially in recessionary times.  Given the government has declared several years of austerity to come, that’s surely a sign that supplying beekeepers is a business with a prosperous future.

Most of those benefits apply to other domestic food growing activities, which in turn means anyone providing goods and services to beekeepers might additionally serve people growing tomatoes and mushrooms and dozens of other natural foods.

Selling to beekeepers has several major benefits for eBay sellers:

*  The business has long term potential as the world struggles out of recession.    Anything that saves money and benefits families’ dietary health and well-being has a good chance of surviving economic downturn.

*  Extensive cross marketing possibilities.  So many private and business buyers for beekeeping supplies and various other rural pursuits mentioned earlier, allow sellers to have just one Shop catering for numerous different interests, or several Shops each focussing on one specific type of end user.  Whatever the choice, sellers can cross market their products in numerous different ways, by displaying only beekeeping products inside listings for beekeeping products, for example, or by including links to other Shops selling different products.

*  A good many products require regular replenishment, such as bee foods and cleaning products for the hive, jars for storing honey, and others mentioned later.  And that means once you have a buyer that person might continue buying from you indefinitely on eBay.

*  Sellers can build a business as big and as specialised as they want it to be.  So a person could begin marketing for one rural pursuit, such as beekeeping and quickly become a major seller on eBay.  Then he or she can add new markets, collectively or one at a time, and develop knowledge and expertise over several different ventures.

So a person might start out selling beekeeping supplies, then a few months later begin targeting mushroom growers, then further down the line supplying goods and services for people growing tomatoes, and orchids, herbs and spices, and so on and so on.

This portfolio approach helps sellers survive decline in demand in one or more separate ventures.  So if there’s a sudden health scare affecting tomatoes, for instance, and demand plummets, a seller can focus more extensively on other current products or enter new and promising markets.

Few people would call bees ‘pets’ but the Pets category is where most products for beekeepers get listed on eBay, under the sub-category of ‘Bee Keeping’.

The appropriate product category is ‘Pets > Bee Keeping’ and notice how eBay uses two words - bee keeping’, while most sites I studied today use just ‘beekeeping’.  But that does not mean you should use both words in your eBay titles to ensure your listing respond to searches using one or two words on eBay.  That’s because eBay recognises and returns most commonly used alternative key words and phrases, in this case ‘beekeeping’ and ‘bee keeping’.

Currently there are less than 2,000 listings for beekeeping products, so the market has lots of potential, especially as consumers become disillusioned with food and drink manufacturers and choose to make their own fresh foods.

These are the sub-categories you’ll find listed under ‘Pets > Beekeeping’, suggesting the kind of products you could be selling very soon:

Honey Extraction
Instructional Material
Protective Equipment
Not Specified.

‘Not Specified’ is where you’ll find most repeat sale items, such as                     bee food and winter supplements, boxes and labels for distributing honey, honey bee swarm lure, and more besides.   These are generally lower priced items but I’ve spotted several eBay sellers enjoying multiple sales daily of some of those products.

Don’t forget hives and such, they’re expensive items and can attract good profit margins, especially if you make hives yourself or have someone else make them for you on commission.

Last, but not least, I noticed a good trade in books teaching beekeeping principles, and books and CDs providing plans for building hives and bee houses.

There’s a massive market here that’s so far very much under-represented on eBay.  Go take a look on eBay right now, make notes about items other people are selling on a regular basis, then see what the following trade and wholesale suppliers have that might offer decent profit margins for you.

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