763
7 min 24 sec

Beekeepers Build Buzzing Backyard Business

After learning to care for bees by watching YouTube, this European couple living in Australia turns it into a full-time income.
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What It's About

A buzzworthy side hustle becomes much more than a drop in the honey bucket.

Business Model
Service
Skills Required
Beekeeping & Honey Processing
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

Ana did some research to find markets with available stalls and registered to sell their product, which they called Amber Drop Honey. Their presentation was basic, but using their unique story and sharing the plight of the bees, they were able to sell $600 of honey and become the “buzz” of the market.

We talk often about the importance of creating a strong backstory, and the success that Ana and Sven have found with Amber Drop Honey is a perfect example of this!

Fun Fact

As a way to increase their product offerings, Ana started making DIY beeswax kits for people to make their own. After a while, she realized that this product got a bit lost in their regular online shop and market stall, so she started an Etsy shop to sell these items. It has been steadily increasing in profit, and she recently had quite a lot of sales prior to this past Christmas.

Notes from Chris

Episode 763
For Ana Martin and her husband, Sven Stephan, side hustling has become a way of life. Originally from Spain and Germany respectively, the couple who now live in Australia have had a never-ending run of side jobs to bolster their income. They’ve flipped houses, renovated apartments, and hosted local cultural nights, just to name a few.

But like so many, the side hustle which truly captured their hearts, and felt like it gave them a real purpose, originally started off as a hobby.

It began when Ana and Sven stumbled across an Indiegogo campaign for a product called Flow Hive. The campaign highlighted the growing problems honey bees all around the world were facing and gave practical solutions to help people do their part. Sven saw this as his chance to make a difference in an important global issue.

They invested $500 in some boxes to keep bees in the garden of their new family farm. Sven also joined the local beekeeper association and put himself on what’s known as a “swarm list”—someone who would be willing to come and remove bee swarms which have settled in unwanted places. Although it sounds like a job which needs rigorous training, Sven learned most of what he needed to know to be on the list by watching YouTube videos when he couldn’t sleep at night!

Within a few days, phone calls started coming in. People all over New South Wales found themselves with bees which had settled in the most inconvenient spots: schoolyards, house walls, and telephone interchanges, where they can cause real problems. Many beekeepers find these locations too tricky to remove bees from and opt to exterminate the swarms instead, but Sven relished the challenge; the tougher the better.

With every colony of bees Sven rescued, he relocated to a box on his farm, so he and Ana could care for them. Within four months they had 35 rescued hives of bees on their property. Better still, these hives were creating honey which Ana and Sven then harvested to eat and share with their friends.

As the months went on, this hobby began to require more of their time—so much so that they found it hard to balance their real jobs, Ana in hospitality and Sven as a kitchen fitter. So they began looking at how they could consolidate their time and turn their passion project into a paying one. They decided they would try their hand at packaging and selling the honey they had harvested at local farmers markets.

Ana did some research to find markets with available stalls and registered to sell their product, which they called Amber Drop Honey.

As Amber Drop Honey started to build a following, the costs of equipment and running the business also started to mount up. Their farm currently has close to 200 hives, all of which live in their own beekeeping “box”, which run at a cost of $180 per unit. These costs are negated by the fact that Sven gets the bees for free but still needs to be factored into their product’s end cost, which starts at around $12 per jar.

One of the most profitable income streams for Ana and Sven has been selling their product wholesale, which accounts for around 45% of their income. They achieved this by focusing on standalone retailers with a similar mission to theirs, like independent and wellness stores in their county. This allows them to negotiate deals on a more personal level and doesn’t require them to meet the high demand of an entire supermarket chain.

The major advantage of wholesale is that they can focus on product creation and back-end of their business, and reduce the number of markets they attend each month, which is currently around 10.

In the second half of 2018, Amber Drop Honey generated $110,000 in revenue—a force to bee reckoned with. Much of that goes back into the business, but they now pay themselves enough of a salary to support their growing family.

 
  MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Amber Drop Honey: Drop into Ana and Sven's wesbite to learn more about their swarm saving, honey making endeavors!
  • Indiegogo | Flow Hive: Check out the Indiegogo that encouraged Ana and Sven to get started

SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Resources

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Quote of the Day
"If you are planning on starting a side hustle with a partner, it's important to acknowledge each other's strengths and divvy up tasks according to what each of you is better at."
—Ana Martin & Sven Stephan #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau