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Honey moving?

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In conversations with other commercial beekeepers and queen clients over the past few weeks it has been hard to get a handle on what is happening practically on the ground. It seems that there are some good crops there, and that some buyers are using the coronavirus as an excuse to buy less or talk the price down....this may be legit in some cases. It also seems that some of the big buyers who also produce are sitting on their hands until they know what they have....which makes sense. 

 

There are guys out there saying that they can't sell at 'any price' but in reality are they looking for 'any price' or still tied to the price they got in previous years in their mind? 

 

 Really I'm just wondering if honey is moving, be that good manuka or other, less desirable varieties. 

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I heard on the grapevine the other day some  white clover moved at  $1.50/kg. But that was only the grapevine.

 

Over the last month I have dropped samples off to various 'buyers' ..... but no  one has been terribly excited.

 

Oh well ..... at least we got 40ml for rain last night , the Americans are working on a vaccine for the Coronavirus ..... and a realestate man tells me that houses prices could go up 10% in the not too distant future.

Our turn will come .....  sometime. 

 

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Over the last year or so of my "supermarket shelf price watching", conducted at my local supermarket, I have seen the price steadily come down.

 

Until perhaps a couple of months ago, when it stabilised and has not dropped since. Yay, found a bottom perhaps?

 

Anyway I was back in there a few days ago and surprise, price has climbed a little.

 

The 2 cheapest honeys were about on a par with each other, and were clover and bush. There was though a more attractively packaged bush honey that looked pretty inviting, and was priced 50% higher than the other bush.

 

Wether all this actually means anything who knows, because there is still massive inventory out there. All depends what people will take for it I guess.

 

 

Imagine you are a honey buyer. Every day you are getting phone calls that say "PLEEEASE buy my honey i'm desperate". Well of course you not going to be rushing to offer top dollar.

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There is definately honey moving but very difficult to make it happen... “give me a call in a few months” kind of replies.. 

as you say lots of hand sitting, low prices offered and between Corona Virus causing supply chain issues and a big season with lots of good mono produced both Nth and Sth islands makes for desperate cashflow problems. 

The longer the buyers stall the lower the prices will go. 

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54 minutes ago, BSB said:

There are guys out there saying that they can't sell at 'any price' but in reality are they looking for 'any price' or still tied to the price they got in previous years in their mind? 

Probably. Largely caused by high cost production. Needing to find high value sales. Slippery slope when your return makes less than cost.

There's a lot of hope out there, waiting for a buyer to offer, return or emerge who'll pay well enough.

The buyers have it their way, tho not long ago vice versa. 

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Have been talking to a few long established beekeepers lately, walking away getting a job seems to be the consensus...or major cut in hive numbers , maybe beekeeping will return to smaller husband wife operations?

1.5$ kg for clover @jamesc that gives me the screaming ####s..💩

 

Bearing in mind we operate in non manuka producing country. 

 

Although i dont think we are overpopulated with hives south of timaru i think pasture pollination will be the talk of the future, 20 years ago at 4$ or less could be done but a slack season always made it hard work , of course no varroa then ..

Downstream effects...the training of new beekeepers in our types of areas will come to a hault agian , my farther trained one person in his 50 years of beekeeping and that was me...

If i give up ( which i do not wish to do)

4 generations of local knowledge will disappear. 

Local knowledge is key to successful, sustainable beekeeping, at present beekeeping is no longer sustainable , maybe its time to start squeaking to the powers above?

Dose the general farming community realise the struggle?

Government help? (Haha)

 

Alot of good beekeepers are in trouble...

 

Dont no if im a good beekeeper,  im definitely one that is on tipping point with 3000 + hives 6 staff..

 

Sure would like to see a crystal ball to make the next decision in life...🤔🤔

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Very interesting post Nuc_man.

 

I already know personally two commercial beekeepers who have been able to extract themselves from it and one is now working a job, the other doing nothing while figuring out what to do next.

 

Sadder are those who are steadily loosing money but still locked in and don't know where to turn.

 

Does the general farming community realise the struggle? No. When dairy collapsed there was massive sympathy. Current issues in beekeeping are probably even worse, and to add to that, in my view there is unlikely to be any future turnaround. But nobody really knows, or cares. 

 

There will be tears, and that, is just the facts on the ground.

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1 minute ago, Alastair said:

Very interesting post Nuc_man.

 

I already know personally two commercial beekeepers who have been able to extract themselves from it and one is now working a job, the other doing nothing while figuring out what to do next.

 

Sadder are those who are steadily loosing money but still locked in and don't know where to turn.

 

Does the general farming community realise the struggle? No. When dairy collapsed there was massive sympathy. Current issues in beekeeping are probably even worse, and to add to that, in my view there is unlikely to be any future turnaround. But nobody really knows, or cares. 

 

There will be tears, and that, is just the facts on the ground.

Funny how it all works aye...

Paided taxs all our lives built a bussiness on love of the trade and family . 

Years/genarations of free pasture pollination  .

Wonder what the pasture will look like in 5 years?

There will be survivors i guess ?

Will it be me?

I have no idea ?

But the belt is on the last notch.

 

1 minute ago, Nuc_man said:

Funny how it all works aye...

Paided taxs all our lives built a bussiness on love of the trade and family . 

Years/genarations of free pasture pollination  .

Wonder what the pasture will look like in 5 years?

There will be survivors i guess ?

Will it be me?

I have no idea ?

But the belt is on the last notch.

 

Hope of a decent $

Hope of a settled future

In this situation hope may be a dangerous thing..

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Better to let staff go than continue till bankrupt.

 

Any alternative is messy.

 

A friend who worked for a corporate last year told me that in his area 2 years ago they were splitting as fast as they could. But this time around they downsized hive numbers and just have massive numbers of boxes stored, and look to be having less staff next season. He said a lot of their sites produce honey that is now not passing the standard, so they are just winding all of that down.

 

Less hives in NZ is inevitable, but it will take a while.

Edited by Alastair
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2 minutes ago, Alastair said:

Better to let staff go than continue till bankrupt.

 

Any alternative is messy.

 

A friend who worked for a corporate last year told me that in his area 2 years ago they were splitting as fast as they could. But this time around they downsized hive numbers and just have massive numbers of boxes stored, and look to be having less staff next season. He said a lot of their sites produce honey that is now not passing the standard, so they are just winding all of that down.

 

Less hives in NZ is inevitable, but it will take a while.

Problem with letting staff go my problem will become the neighbor's problem and so on and so on

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30 minutes ago, Nuc_man said:

Wonder what the pasture will look like in 5 years?

The clever lot in research are developing clovers that require less pollination and in turn produce less nectar. Future of pasture....

Scale back or work smarter. Look at those 2 frame nucs @jamesc produced. No holding supporting and keeping alive big units. Keep fewer that can boom, split in spring. Less input, lower cost, growing and retracting format.

I can't, got to have good bees for pollination in spring. But that's what I would consider. Keep 500 over winter, kill the rest. Then expand in spring. 500 to 3000?

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9 minutes ago, Gino de Graaf said:

The clever lot in research are developing clovers that require less pollination and in turn produce less nectar. Future of pasture....

Scale back or work smarter. Look at those 2 frame nucs @jamesc produced. No holding supporting and keeping alive big units. Keep fewer that can boom, split in spring. Less input, lower cost, growing and retracting format.

I can't, got to have good bees for pollination in spring. But that's what I would consider. Keep 500 over winter, kill the rest. Then expand in spring. 500 to 3000?

Ive often thought of chasing more pollination,  none to be had close by , if i travel out of the district (which would be easy) end result I'm taking work off next guy who is probably struggling enough with out stress of losing valuable work. 

For me i couldn't do that.

Downsizing is the answer i run singles so double up  redeploy in spring..😖👊👌

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32 minutes ago, Gino de Graaf said:

Scale back or work smarter. Look at those 2 frame nucs @jamesc produced. No holding supporting and keeping alive big units. Keep fewer that can boom, split in spring. Less input, lower cost, growing and retracting format.

I can't, got to have good bees for pollination in spring. But that's what I would consider. Keep 500 over winter, kill the rest. Then expand in spring. 500 to 3000?

 

That is a brutal, but very insightful post.

 

When i was selling bees and making massive increase, splitting a hive many ways in autumn was a great way to rapidly increase numbers out of the large bee populations available at that time of year. Holding costs through winter were a non issue compared to the value of the bees that could be sold next spring.

 

Now though, winter holding costs are comparatively huge. Now that bees are not worth gold, in my view it make makes big sense to winter as few as possible. The reproductive powers of bees are remarkable, and provided they are healthy, just a few overwintered colonies can be turned into many. Which serves the dual purpose of dispensing with swarm control. In these tough times, a brutal approach of holding a minimum number through winter makes a lot of sense.

 

Circumstantial of course, as per Gino if he needs big populations early for pollination, different ball game.

 

But i think some of the old methods may need to be looked at in a whole new light. My own training as a young guy was that no hive was to be lost, and in fact if a hive was lost, there would be an inquisitioin by the boss to find out what happened, and whose fault it was. But, that was the old days.

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Farmers don't keep dry cows...not a great analogy but it's a brutal world

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27 minutes ago, Gino de Graaf said:

Farmers don't keep dry cows...not a great analogy but it's a brutal world

That is a classical gd point

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Another one is less stimulatory feeding, or feeding only hives that will later collect a saleable crop.  And lessening the number of site visits.  On my urban/bush/multi-floral sites those hives will get no more than five visits this season.

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3 minutes ago, CraBee said:

Another one is less stimulatory feeding, or feeding only hives that will later collect a saleable crop.  And lessening the number of site visits.  On my urban/bush/multi-floral sites those hives will get no more than five visits this season.

And another one is the no-hopers abandoning any pretence of AFB spotting.

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3 hours ago, yesbut said:

And another one is the no-hopers abandoning any pretence of AFB spotting.

thats the big nasty issue. AFB getting away on beeks because they don't spend the time in the hives. 

especially those who run large numbers of hives per beek or have large amounts of temp staff who are not really interested.

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Now then, The Good Lord teaches us that we should labour for six days , and on the seventh  have  a day of rest .

I have no problem with that.

 

And on that day of rest I have been putting more thought into solving the worlds problems.The Bee worlds problems.

Coronavirus is out of my league ..... but on my day of rest I talked with a mate on the motorbike track amidst the dust and the noise, who  like me , he has run out of enthusiasm for the business of the bees in it's present state, and, like me , is not smart enough to do anything else, so we sort of agreed that bees is what we do, and will do.

 

And the thought goes like this.

 

We are the primary producers. We work the hard yards. The days and the nights. The long hours. The highs and the lows of big crops and dead hives. Good prices and non existent prices.

We are the dreamers who picnic in a different spot every day and return home with a thirst that only a 'greenie ' or such will kill.

 

We are not marketers.

But we need to learn to become that.

 

And as I have often said before, JimmyC is not only a Beekeeper, but a farmer who raises Beef and Venison , and we have no problem selling that. I don't even have to think or worry about who the heck is gonna buy my primo grass-fed Beef and Venison. There are companies out there who are very good at doing that.

 

Friday night I was reading a weekly newsletter from Silver Fern Farms who take our beef.  It is a weekly run down on the markets, the effects of our drought, the Coronavirus, and the Aussie drought, and how it is affecting the sale of our product on the world market.

The team at SFF  have recently attended an expo in the Middle East, and the CEO is currently in the US drumming up sales. He admits that we are in challenging times, and it is hard work ..... but  ..... they are out there selling.

And as my mate  and I leaned on the side of the truck in the heat and the dust and the noise of the motorbike track the thought hit me again that we need to be Piggy Backing on the backs of these marketing professionals who are selling New Zealand product to the world.

 

If we Beekeepers could come together as a joined and unified force prepared to chip in and cover the CEO's air ticket to Dubai or LA or London .../ perhaps he would take a few jars of our honey and promote it at his tastings ...... Dew Marinaded venison slow cooked on a charcoal BBQ .....

 

I put that to him a few months ago, but never got a reply.

Perhaps there is someone out there with more Mana than myself who could nudge him again.

 

Or are we too self centred to care about how our neighbours and mates  are struggling in despair and desperation ?

 

 

 

 

 

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I had a beekeeper come over for a chat at the farmers market today. He told me that he had had a very good crop because less people were chasing honey in the area where he had hives and that he had sold most of it at a reasonable price.

I think there is still a reasonable living to be made beekeeping but anyone who expects the prices to go back up to $10 plus in the near future  is dreaming and if you can't get by on five dollars you should get out now.

 

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22 minutes ago, john berry said:

you should get out now.

 


the question is how ?

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I kinda figured this adjustment/correction/debacle was on its way as did a few other beeks that I speak with. The scale and viciousness of it has been quite a surprise though. 3 or 4 years ago I toyed with the idea of selling up figuring it was the height of the market and hive value, but then what?? I'm 42, I like my job and most of the people I deal with in the industry...I have good clients who will hopefully be around for a while and, also hopefully, things will sort themselves out somewhat given time.

 

If you are looking to sell then you are looking at big corporates, at least some of whom are still buying or people looking for a bargain. If you want all of your money out in one hit be prepared to accept a low price or perhaps do a deal with terms and get a bit more but act as another beekeepers 'bank' and get payment over a longer period. When we first got into queens it was by buying out a breeders widow and making 3 payments across the season.... we paid what she asked for the business. This was paid for by the income from the operation for that season. More deals like this I think for those looking to exit the market.

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Who could buy bees if it cost 300 each and the honey produced is sporatic and has unknown value. The cost of running employees, distant honey sites, fees, multiple vehicle is high. Like 500> per hive. Revenue needs to be made. How? 

The mites make it difficult for me to work a winter job, it's possible but I will need to take more risk. 

 

The fact that a decent mono crop will be hard to sell following a few years of rubbish. Why? 

 

A single desk structure could work, giving us a strong voice, though it won't fix low honey prices. Maybe thru excellent marketing over time and investment. 

 

 

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