Your Source For Beekeeping News, Information and Entertainment
Dec. 19, 2022

Beekeeper vs. Tech in Startup Competition with Chris Bush (S5, E27)

Beekeeper vs. Tech in Startup Competition with Chris Bush (S5, E27)

Joining us this week is Northeast Ohio Beekeeper, Chris Bush. Chris was a contestant on an online series, kind of like - Survivor, meets SharkTank in Hell’s Kitchen. Chris took his honey and queen rearing business to compete against other companies...


Joining us this week is Northeast Ohio Beekeeper, Chris Bush. Chris was a contestant on an online series, kind of like - Survivor, meets SharkTank in Hell’s Kitchen. Chris took his honey and queen rearing business to compete against other companies also looking to win and to learn.

It was a very challenging experience. There were 49 other contestants - from the high tech startups searching for their second round of million dollar funding to small Etsy startups… looking to catch the eye of the producers to take their product nationwide.

Listen today as Chris, a small Ohio Beekeeper, describes how he completed against the largest and well funded startups. He’ll talk about the importance of marketing and… of course, the life of a contestant in a show where you live, confined and isolated with the other competitors. 

How’d Chris do? You will have to listen to find out!

In the episode, Kim also  reviews the book, Wax Extracting for the Backyard Beekeeper by Dave Atherton and available from Northern Bee Books. It is a short but useful book for those who have plenty of wax at the end of each season, but not enough to invest in expensive equipment to process it.

We hope you enjoy the episode. Leave comments and questions in the Comments Section of the episode's website.

Thank you for listening!

Links and websites mentioned in this podcast: 

Honey Bee Obscura

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This episode is brought to you by Global PattiesGlobal PattiesGlobal offers a variety of standard and custom patties. Visit them today at http://globalpatties.com and let them know you appreciate them sponsoring this episode! 

We welcome Betterbee as sponsor of today's episode. Betterbee’s mission is to support every beekeeper with excellent customer BetterBeeservice, continued education and quality equipment. From their colorful and informative catalog to their support of beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast series, Betterbee truly is Beekeepers Serving Beekeepers. See for yourself at www.betterbee.com

Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of Beekeeping TodayStrong Microbials Podcast. Find out more about heir line of probiotics in our Season 3, Episode 12 episode and from their website: https://www.strongmicrobials.com

Thanks for Northern Bee Books for their support. Northern Bee Books is the publisher of bee books available worldwide from their website or from Amazon and bookstores everywhere. They are also the publishers of The Beekeepers Quarterly and Natural Bee Husbandry.

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We hope you enjoy this podcast and welcome your questions and comments in the show notes of this episode or: questions@beekeepingtodaypodcast.com

Thanks to Bee Culture, the Magazine of American Beekeeping, for their support of The Beekeeping Today Podcast. Available in print and digital at www.beeculture.com

Bee Culture Magazine

Thank you for listening! 

Podcast music: Be Strong by Young Presidents; Epilogue by Musicalman; Walking in Paris by Studio Le Bus; A Fresh New Start by Pete Morse; Original guitar background instrumental by Jeff Ott

Beekeeping Today Podcast is an audio production of Growing Planet Media, LLC

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Transcript

S5, E27 – Beekeeper vs. Tech in Startup Competition with Chris Bush

 

[music]

Jeff Ott: Welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast presented by Bee Culture.  Beekeeping Today Podcast is your source for beekeeping news, information, and entertainment. I'm Jeff Ott.

Kim Flottum: I'm Kim Flottum.

Global Patties: Hey Jeff and Kim, today's sponsor is Global Patties. They're a family-operated business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honeybees. It's a good time to think about honeybee nutrition. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will ensure that they produce strong and healthy colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow. Now is a great time to consider what type of patty is right for your area and your honeybees.

Global offers a variety of standard patties as well as custom patties to meet your needs. No matter where you are, Global is ready to serve you out of their manufacturing plants in Airdrie, Alberta, and in Butte, Montana, or from distribution depots across the continent. Visit them today at www.globalpatties.com.

Jeff: Thanks, Sherry and thank you Global Patties. Each week we get to talk about how much we appreciate our sponsor's support. We know you'd rather we get right to talking about beekeeping, however, our great sponsors are critical to help making all of this happen. From the transcripts, the hosting piece, the software, the hardware, the microphones, the subscriptions, the recorders, they enable each episode. With that, thanks to Bee Culture Magazine for continuing their presenting sponsorship of this podcast.  Bee Culture has been a magazine for American beekeeping since 1873. Subscribe to Bee Culture today.

Hey everybody, thanks for joining us. We're really happy you're here. Before we get started just a quick reminder to subscribe or follow Beekeeping Today Podcast and give us a five-star rating. It really does help. Also, we are now adding complete transcripts of each episode on the website after the show notes. Check them out. You can also leave questions and comments online under each show. You can leave a comment, ask a question, reply to a question, ours, or another's, about listeners. Click on leave a comment at the top of the episode's show notes to join the discussion.

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Hey everybody, thanks again for joining us this week, this week of winter solstice. I set my sights on winter solstice from about November on because on the shortest day of the year I know we've turned the corner and spring is on its way. Each day I check my bees this time of year. I look to see how many more bees are laying outside the hive entrance. Are there more? To me, more means that there's or maybe life inside. It's a sign of hope. If there are the same number of bees or less, perhaps the landing board has been wiped clean due to wind or rain, or perhaps the colony is dead.

Of course, I can always pop the lid and check, but I don't like to do that, at least not right away. I want to give the colony a chance to come around before I pop the propolis seals and risk exposing the colony to the cold and elements. After the visual inspection, I will go inside to the computer and check the online sensor readings, but even that is not foolproof. However, it is a better indicator of what's going on inside the hive than the number of bees out front.

If the sensors in the hive are reporting the same temperature as the outside air temperature, the colony is most likely dead or the cluster is too small to survive much more the winter. On the other hand, if the temperature inside the hive is higher than the ambient air temperature, the colony is alive, at least for now, and I can keep an eye on them and do all the things I needed to do to see them through to spring. It's just one step at a time. Getting past the winter solstice is just one of many to come.

Would you pit your beekeeper business and marketing skills against other business people in an online series such as the popular TV show Shark Tank? Our guest this week, beekeeper Chris Bush, did. He went up against 49 other contestants, all of whom were offering all sorts of products and services from the high-tech and well-funded startup looking for another investment of millions to the one-person Etsy startup.

How did he do? Stay tuned to hear his story, but first Kim has a review of a book by beekeeper Dave Atherton titled Wax Extraction for the Back Yard Beekeeper available from Northern Bee Books. Before we get to that, I just want to say Kim and I hope you and your families have an enjoyable holiday season with all your friends and family. Okay, Kim, tell us about that book.

Kim: A long time ago, I used to capture older beeswax from frames, scrapings, and the like, and melt them down in a solar wax melter. I got the melter from a dealer now long

gone. It was as inexpensive as it was inefficient. It was a simple wooden box about a foot deep with a simple sheet of framed plexiglass that covered and enclose the box. Inside there was a slanted sheet metal bottom. One end was near the very top of the box and the other end was near the bottom.

The sheet was as wide as the interior of the box and about three-quarters as long as the box and set off the top about six to eight inches. It was cut so that anything running from the top to the bottom would be funneled toward the center bottom of the sheet where a metal ridge captured most of the waste. When frames were laid on the metal sheet, the wax would melt due to the enclosed space warming quite a bit due to being exposed to the sun and in an enclosed space. Melted wax ran down the sheet bottom and could be collected in an open pan sitting at the very bottom of the box.

When done, wax still covered the sheet and the warmed waste had to be removed which if you were on top of things, you did even before you removed the pan with the collected wax. One thing I never thought of doing was to pile the frames on the metal sheet two, three, maybe five deep would have made life a lot simpler and faster. If you take a look at catalogs today, basically that's what's being sold, the same wax melter, maybe stainless steel but probably wood.

Well, when I started using plastic foundation, at first, I just put the wax-covered foundation sheets in the melter and recycled the used sheets because they got warped and couldn't be used in frames anymore. The collected wax was harvested as before. Harvested wax still needed cleaning, however, so fairly soon I saw the light and jury-rigged in a large pan and a larger pan filled with water and heated with a hot plate. When melted, the wax was poured through a series of filters and made ready to use.

I saw a book just yesterday about building a fairly elaborate melter based on the same principle as the first one I used but with many, many more features, making it far more efficient to use. Let me tell you a bit about it.

If you're looking to do something like this, you can get the book and the details that go with it. It is a 2x4 base, it's about 3 feet long, and it's wide enough to accommodate a frame with the lugs hanging and bolts at the appropriate distance from each other. The depth of the box can be made to accommodate one, two, maybe four frames for maximum efficiency. On each long side of the base sits a frame that supports the box you will make to hold your frames of wax. You're going to want to put casters on the bottom, so it's easy to move.

Between the tops of the A-frames, another 2x4 is attached so that it can revolve on pins on each side. The box you will make is attached to this 2x4 such that you can change the angle of the surface of the glass so maximum sunlight can be used all day long, straight up, early in the morning, flat straight up looking at the sun, and at noon. The bottom of

the box is covered with a sheet of metal that covers the space where the frames hang leaving the bottom uncovered because you will place your collection pan there.

Except, he doesn't use a pan, he used a plastic soda bottle with a top cut off of at the shoulder. The wax is funneled on the sheet and steered toward the funnel opening that's covered with a filter, and clean wax runs into the bottle. The glass top is a single sheet of glass or maybe plexiglass cut to the size and held in place with wooden supports. The trick is it has to be tight so using some sort of sealant is necessary.

There's all manner of other tricks he uses to make wax melting simple, efficient, and easy. For a small operation like mine, this is perfect. Now all I have to do is find someone who can make it for me, and I'm accepting bids as we speak. The book Wax Extraction for the Back Yard Beekeeper who, as we all know, is featured in a book I'm particularly fond of is written by Dave Atherton, published by Northern Bee Books. It costs you 6$ from Amazon if they still have any and about $10 from Northern Bee Books. It's only 35 pages long which is, for all things considered, is a chapter in most beekeeping how-to books, and there's lots and lots of photos. You got wax, here's a good way to deal with it.

[music]

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Jeff: While you're on the strong microbial site, make sure you click on and subscribe to the Hive, the regular newsletter full of interesting beekeeping facts and product updates. Hey everybody, welcome back to the show. Sitting across a virtual zoom table right now is Chris Bush, a beekeeper from Northeast Ohio, and also star of the online TV show Beta Blocks. We'll get into that more. Chris, welcome to the show.

Chris Bush: Thank you guys for having me. I really appreciate it.

Jeff: Your story caught our attention because you were on-- Well, we'll get into the details, but you were on a show that's much like the popular TV show that was on one of the big national networks called what? Shark Tank? Where you had all the business entrepreneurs come in and compete against each other for prizes and glory.

Chris: For funding basing investment into your company.

Jeff: There you go. Thank you for the correct approach. The show that you were on, you were competing against technical people, but you came in using your beekeeping business as the model, so that's an exciting thing to do. Let's get into that and one, introduce us to you and your bee operation and then how you learned about this beta blocks.

Chris: Sweet. My name is Chris Bush. I am the owner of Hive Works Honey Company in northeast Ohio, and I was on the show called The Beta Blocks and how it happened was, I think some random website and something popped up and it was like, "Oh be on TV." In my head, I just turned 33, and I'm like, "Am I pretty enough to be on TV?" It was the basis of why I signed up in the first place. I'm like, that could work.

10 interview processes later, I'm like, "I don't think I can get out of this." Then they sent the thing, I flew out to Kansas City where it was shot, walked in the door, and it's my little honey company versus multimillion-dollar tech companies. That was a shock and it was, "Oh." Relying on the bees to be cute and try to push me over the hump was not really in the cards. It was fun for the most part.

Jeff: What aspect of your business did you highlight in the show?

Chris: Went into the whole thing. I thought it was a bunch of small businesses competing against each other. It'd be like me versus a mom-and-pop ice cream stand, something like that. I thought it'd be our goals, learning how to take our small business that we have under a hundred thousand dollars, and then turn it into something that you can make a viable aspect and something that you can rely on for a living.

It was interesting, the reason I went into it is was more, I have like a corporate responsibility model for my beekeeping where I have companies and families that sponsor our beehives and then they sponsor the beehives so that we can grow our operation but also help put bees out in the world and pollinate the surrounding area. That's where I went into the TV show, trying to take my small business so I could compete with the big beekeepers technically in a sense.

Jeff: Very cool.

Kim: Well, I wonder, Chris, compete for what you're going to be doing or you've done something that you are holding up for comparison to other people's businesses and somebody somewhere is judging you?

Chris: In order to be a judge on this show, you had to have a company that you sold that made over $50 million to sell it. Those were the judges that were comparing everyone. Then there were contestants from Canada and Mexico and then all throughout the United States from companies ranging from like vegan food companies to technology companies, there was a few hairdressers and small companies, but they were mostly companies using this as a platform to have investors out in the world see their product and then being able to invest in their company.

Jeff: Wow. [laugh]

Kim: They'd bring several of you into a a room and then it became Q&A, they'd ask you questions? How did the competition work?

Chris: Well, the competition was, we would spend the morning learning everything, I guess take it as like a lesson. We'd have a lesson where we would learn say about marketing or email analytics and stuff like that. We would take all that in and then we would have to take what we learned that day and put it into our company and then there'd be like a question and answer, but not really mostly us telling them how we can use that piece of information that we learned to make our company better, what we would do with it in the future to preview, we learned the information. We brought it all in, how can we take that and apply to our business was the metrics they graded us on.

Kim: All of you're sitting in this room, I'm guessing around the table or some situation and the person running the show is going, "Chris, we talked this morning about using email to generate more business to attract attention, to make life better for you. How are you going to do that and how successful do you think it'll be?" Is that the approach they took?

Chris: Pretty much. It's yes, what can you take to make your business great and then apply it and then into a business meeting and you had to use A, B, and C to secure the deal. What are the different ways, what different funnels can you do to get into that meeting and stuff like that. They were mostly on that. Then average business, all the stuff that we don't want to think about in the beekeeping world is what they kept jamming down our throats. It's like taxes, all those fun things that no one likes to talk about.

Jeff: Business boot camp.

Kim: Oh, the business things. What did you take that they wanted you to take and apply to your business that they thought worked pretty well?

Chris: I would say if you watch the show and watch the parts I'm in, it's mostly me arguing with the judges to be completely honest, because everything that they pretty much taught us was when you're in business, if you're selling out, make it smaller and sell it for more. As you know with honey, there's definitely a cap in our market that we can only really get a specific price for our market. We can't take out giant investments because bees might die in the winter and if I take out a hundred thousand dollars loan, all the bees die, I'm screwed and there's no possible way for me to do that.

When it came to things like that, when it came to money and stuff, it was a challenge because I couldn't be, I sell out all the honey I have now, but in order for me to make the money I need to invest a lot of money that's super risky. The growing small that most beekeepers like to practice does not work in the business world.

Jeff: Well yes, in the high-tech business roller, you're not sending spaceships to the stars, I guess.

Chris: Exactly. It's not a lot of money, it's not like you dropped $50,000 on bees, which I guess in the scheme of things is not a lot of money, but then we're in Ohio, we get a rain one week and then it drops down to negative 300 degrees and then everything dies and then it's like, well I don't have any bees anymore. It's not the greatest business model. When they're trying to shove down your throat, take more money out, I have no assets. That was very hard.

Kim: The question comes up then was the product that you're producing and it sounds like you were taking honey that your bees made and you were marketing it somehow to be more profitable than other beekeepers in the region, then the question comes down to why do you need bees? Why aren't you using northeast Ohio honey and taking it from that? That takes the risk out of losing all of your bees, wouldn't it?

Chris: To be honest, I am afraid to take out that money to risk. I have about a hundred hives right now, give or take depending on what, I got here spending like $3,000, I think I have maybe three to $5,000 in my operation right now. In order to jump up, I guess, to the next step is bigger equipment that I don't know if I want to buy. I have to buy more land, I have to buy other things like that, which I guess involving in the risk is I don't know if I want to put all my faith in honeybees is. I guess where I'm at right there.

I have a good market, but I don't know if I become bigger, does the market shrink because I'm selling out now thing. Yes, it helped a lot. It helped me switch how I look at my business. I think that's what I took out the most from the show, how I deal with the business on the day-to-day and things like that.

Kim: The honey that you're producing from your colonies is way better than what I'm producing that in my backyard here.

Chris: I would highly doubt that and that's what I speak with them the whole time. It's like you might sell yours for $15 a pound or whatever. I don't think anyone in Ohio is buying it for $20 a pound. No matter how good your honey is or however good everyone's honey is, there is a cap in the market that I don't think we can get around without selling our northeast honey to like New York and something like that, but then it becomes not Northeast honey anymore and defeats the whole local honey business model that I have going.

Kim: That's your business model is local honey and I think you mentioned Lakeland. Do I have that right? The city that you live in? Just northeast Ohio. Lakeland Honey.

Chris: I have bees from the islands up on Lake Erie to the east side. I have put bees on Middle Bass, Put-in-Bay, and North Bass on all of the airports on those islands. I have a partnership with the Port Authority up there. Every one of those airports, except Kelly's Islands has my bees. We have island honey. I guess north, the whole top half of Ohio is my territory.

Kim: That's what you're marketing, you're marketing the location the honey is produced as opposed to how good it tastes. How good and nice it looks, all those things?

Chris: I don't believe putting honey in a very fancy jar to sell it for more. I want everyone to try my product. I don't want to price anyone out. I've signed up for food stamps at Farmer's Market so people can use food stamps to buy my honey.

I'd rather get the honey out there than make a bunch of money, if that makes sense to you. I like to focus on more Northeast Honey, but it's just, I want everyone in northeast Ohio to have my honey and I don't really care about anyone else in New York or LA.

Kim: The people that are judging this then from what I just heard you say is do you want people to experience your honey as opposed to becoming a millionaire? Did I get that right?

Chris: I think that's mostly, I don't like selling honey if I could. My business model now is pretty much, I don't like selling honey. What we do now is we would, so this is what I've learned from the show. The new show is I've partnered with a lot of disabled work programs so that we're-- Instead of using the honey to make a bunch of money, we're using the honey to train these kids that are out of high school to give them work-study programs.

We're giving them the experience to come in, use the bees that we have, we make the honey, I do all the bee stuff. Then we have them jar the honey, go out into the world and learn social skills, money management and just learning how to take that next step to being able to live by ourselves. That's more, I guess anything now is where the focus, I want the company to go.

Kim: It'd add more focuse. No doubt.

Chris: When I went to the show I realized I don't want to be a millionaire and it seemed like the best way to be able to have a bunch of bees, get all the honey out, not care if we make any money and yet still help people. We like to go full circle with this inclusion thing. Saving the bees while helping inclusion filter back in. B eekeeping by inclusion is our motto.

Jeff: Let's take this quick break and we'll be right back.

[music]

Betterbee: Hi. We're starting the winter holiday celebrations. Nothing is better for a stocking stuffer, hostess gift, or party favor than honey, homemade hand cream, candles, or lip balm. If you want to learn how to craft, these are other products of the hives such as beeswax, you can visit better bee.com for tips, tricks, and products made by love by you and your honeybees. From all of us at Better Bee, we wish you wonderful winter holidays and terrific celebrations.

Jeff: Welcome back everybody. We've been talking with Chris Bush, he is the star of building blocks as a competitor. You went to Kansas City. Did you take product with you or did you just take your business plans and your business approach with you?

Chris: I took honey pollen. I accidentally took a bunch of big jars that got taken by TSA. I don't know if it was because they wanted it or if it's because it was close to the line and they took half the jars I brought, so they probably had arena. I took some stuff. I went into this thing to learn. I've always worked for other people, I've never worked for myself so I really don't know the ins and out of running a business. It's my main reason for going to that since going to the show.

Jeff: You produced primarily liquid honey?

Chris: Honey and then with the island, since there's no one else out there, we're focusing on clean breeding out there, just working on genetics and trying to help knock down that problem.

Jeff: That's a real good area to do that, I would think, out in the island.

Chris: It's five miles offshore and there's on North Bass, there is one old man that lives there, he's lived there for 70 years and that is the only human inhabitants there and there's also no bees. It's perfect secluded breeding area for myself. It's a great get.

Jeff: Real good. It must be fun taking the bees, a truckload of bees across on the ferry or how do you do that?

Chris: They went on the ferry. I actually, I stuffed them in my car because obviously, bees fly and I didn't want bees flying around on the ferry, you just have a bunch of people standing around. On North Bass, I had to buy a boat to, I didn't have to buy a boat. I wanted to buy a boat. There's no dock there, so we have to dock the boat, put the bees on a canoe and then paddle them to shore and then take them to the apiary. It's extreme beekeeping to say the least.

Jeff: I hope you have an Instagram account and we could follow that journey sometime. That would be fun.

Chris: It's definitely, it's pretty fun. I've decided to take this winter and try to get my pilot's license to make it just a little easier for myself.

Jeff: Good luck with that. Flying into North Bass Island would be fun too.

Chris: Beekeeping has let me have so many fun projects, buying boats and random stuff and it's, "Eh, if I can do this, why not?" Put bees in places you want to spend time with and then you get to go there all the time.

Kim: Lots of us do that, that's for sure. Pick up the bee yard that you want to be in and oh, the bees are there too, but it's the bee yard. Chris, the question comes up, the people that you were, I guess competing with or dealing with on that level, about how many were there and what business models were they trying to foster on the judges?

Chris: I would say there was roughly 50 contestants and then I would put 40% of them have already made multimillions of dollars in their business. I'd put probably 30% in that about-to-take-off startup phase that they've made under a million dollars. I think they're more into the they want to sell their company and then you have, I guess the rest of the 30% would be people like me, beekeepers, your actual startups, people that have made under half a million dollars, stuff like that.

An example of some of them, the company, so one of the guys there, he owns a vegan chicken company where they make fake chicken. I think he's already made $20 million. He's in every Whole Foods around America. He's doing his thing. There was a lot of trucking companies that owned multiple trucking depots around America. You're basic young millionaires trying to make it type thing. Building developers, website designers.

Then you have some interesting ones like a death doula. This one was a death doula. Instead of being born, they sat next to you while you died. That's an interesting company. Then just a bunch of like, there was a couple weird things that had to do with death, virtual reality so you could walk in your grandparents' house after they died if that was something you wanted to do.

Then interact with your grandparents. To me it's a little weird, but teach it own. Those were the companies that were there. You have your giant and every national chain you could think of and then you just have your people like me who I'm in a couple grocery stores and seeing where I can take this.

Jeff: The green room conversations must have been fun. The off-camera discussions, both enlightening in terms of what you could learn from other people.

Chris: The connections that were there were amazing. Since being there, I can get a billboard in Times Square for under a hundred dollars for 20 minutes, which is ridiculous. It's a thousand, $2,000. It's just the marketing and stuff that you said, it's better to know people than to know something. If someone that can do something, it's a lot easier to say, "Hey, I need your help guys, can you help me?" You pay less money, it's less heartache, and you just throw it out there.

Kim: Oh, let me write that down. That's good advice. Without a doubt. I got to go back a half a step when you said it's all sorts of weird things. Then you take a look at the three of us sitting here and we spend our days dealing with live stinging insects. [laughs]

Chris: We probably do it with very little protection too. I like to beekeep shorts in a t-shirt. I don't know what your guys' usual attirement, but I can't be hot. I hate being hot. It's just the less clothing I can wear, the better.

Jeff: I'll go back to what you said. It's not what you know too, and you were able to experience that. It's more than just a saying now for you.

Chris: Exactly.

Kim: It's a message you don't hear in beekeeping very often.

Chris: That everyone hates each other when it's beekeeping. Everyone has an opinion.

Kim: There's that too, but I'm thinking of the people who make the equipment. It's not what you know, it's who you know that makes the equipment or who that you can run a truck from or that thing. That's not something you hear a lot about. It's not what you know, it's who you know. We spend a lot of time knowing what and not enough. I think knowing who.

Chris: That's why I think the conferences every January are such a good thing to forever. I think every bee keeper should go to a conference at least once. Just watching things on YouTube is fun, you can learn stuff, but actually going share a beer with someone who's been beekeeping for 90 years and then learn everything that they need to know.

The American Beekeeping Conference in Las Vegas last year I had a little too much fun with the guys that the CEO of Wason and they gave me a giant discount on my system. That's amazing. It's just, go have a beer with a couple of beekeepers and get some free stuff. We're all very friendly people. Everyone will pretty much give you the shirt off their back if you ask for them.

Kim: You take that the next step. I think that probably is excellent advice for the people running conferences. Not this year, but starting ASAP after this one who's on the stage for most of the day? It's the scientists, it's the what you know, not the vendors and the business people and the tax people and the accounting people. Those are the people who you need to know. That's who you know. It's not what you know, you can get what you know out of books and a whole bunch of other places. I think we got something here, Jeff [laughs].

Chris: When you go to the beekeeping event, you'll see all the old experienced beekeepers out in the lobby instead of in listening to the talks. They're all just screwing around outside. I think I go to three actual lectures and then the rest is just go hang out with people and meet them and just talk and share experiences, which I think everyone should do.

Jeff: The real bee meeting is in the lobbies. In the hallways.

Kim: Has been as long as I've been in the business,

Chris: It's the best time to make deals too. If you need anything, those times are the best time to walk around, get deals, meet people, because it's less of a online paper conversations, face-to-face. They understand you, you understand them and then it's what marketing is, selling yourself.

Kim: Yes, I think some of these businesses that are listening to this, we hope are going to take some of this to task and start talking to those people running meetings next year and say, "Let's get the important information out there instead of the scientific information out there that can be gotten almost anywhere."

Jeff: That goes back to what Cayman's doing with Hive Life and the popularity of his Hive Life conference. I think he's got the right model there at the right time.

Kim: He's got as many vendors there as almost as he does people and that should be giving them a lot of information. What's important?

Jeff: We've talked about the show, we've talked about how you competed, so how did it end up? Can you tell us who won? Are you riding around in roles now?

Chris: No one thought that beekeeping was very investible. I will tell you that, I will tell you out of 50 people I came in 16th place, which is, I would say pretty good.

Jeff: That's respectable. Yes.

Chris: My goal was to come in second to last. As long as I didn't come in last place I'd be perfectly fine. I didn't come in last place so that was good but the, pretty much the top, I think I want to say the top six people who, or top six places have pretty much their companies have either got sold or invested millions of dollars and so that's exactly what they came here for and then I also think the show was made so that the producers could just cherry pick what investments they wanted for their new portfolio, which makes sense. It's same thing with Cayman. He wants you to come into the conference and buy bunch of stuff, learn about bees and he gets to make little money off it and everyone wins.

It's the bee's knees of business. It's great [laughs]. Scratch my back, I scratch yours kind of thing. Yes, I would not recommend it. I will say that reality TV is not what I expected it to be. I don't like living with other pe-- I think if I was like 21 it would've been great experience but I have a family, I have a kid. It's just like, I don't want to sleep in a room with strangers for 10 days and deal with things. Not the fun thing.

Jeff: Oh no.

Chris: I got to audition on Big Brother while I was there so it was, I guess I'm good for reality TV but, I talked with the wife, I think Big Brother is just how you get divorced. If you want to get divorced--

[laughter]

Chris: It's just a show where they just give you a bunch of alcohol and say, "Hey guys, have fun." Doesn't seem like a fun thing.

Jeff: Hey honey, I think this would be a great show. Oh. You don't think so? Okay. [laughs] short discussion. [laughs].

Chris: Oh, this going to be done of drunk single? Yes, no, we're good.

Jeff: [laughs] Is that the one where they all sit in the hot tub with-- Yes. No, I don't think that's a good one. [laughs]

Chris: They were in it and then COVID happened and they didn't find out COVID happened for three months. They were inside and then it's like they randomly told them like three months into the episode. It's like, I know it's not something I want to do. It sounds fun, you can make a ton of money but it's like, it was $50,000 just for signing up but I don't know if that's worth it.

Jeff: Yes.

Chris: Maybe next year. Who knows?

Jeff: [laughs] Chris, is there anything that you want to tell us about your experience, your business that we haven't asked you about yet?

Chris: I think we're pretty good. If anyone knows anyone with a disability or special needs that wants to get out in the workplace, if you guys send me an email, that would be amazing. We can place them in, a paid internship, give them some job training and something on the resume always helps everyone. I guess that's it. Just pass the word. We're always looking for people to come.

Jeff: Fantastic work Chris. We'll provide all your contact information in the show notes in the guest profile and people can reach out to you if they want to learn more about your work with other beekeepers and your special projects and being on TV. [laughs]

Chris: Amazing.

Kim: Chris, I think that wraps it up. I understood about half of what you said in terms of how this thing worked, but I understood very well what the takeaway message was here and I hope that people listening also take the same message away. It's not what you know, it's who you know. That's a lot of marketing.

Jeff: Put the time into meeting people.

Chris: Exactly. Shake hands, say hi.

Jeff: There you go.

[music]

Jeff: Thanks a lot, Chris. Thanks for joining us. Keep in touch.

Chris: Thank you guys very much.

Kim: Thanks, Chris. Nice meeting a successful northeast Ohio beekeeper.

Chris: One of the many.

Kim: [laughs]

Jeff: Are you going to sign up and be on a TV show, Kim?

Kim: I think I'll stick to watching.

Jeff: [laughs]

Kim: I'm a lot better at that than our guest was here today, but it was an inside view of something that beekeeping doesn't get a lot of and that's marketing information, but it's not how you design your label. It's what you do with it once it's designed and how you get it into the system and bring people in who want to also get it into the system. It was a much, much bigger picture than most beekeepers ever get.

Jeff: Competing against other business people trying to expand their business and being a beekeeper and keeping true to your product. That would be an interesting exploration because there are certain limitations, as there is with any agricultural pursuit. We're dependent on weather, we're dependent on habitat, we're dependent on the mites. Those are things that people who are building widgets and bots and whatnots don't have to contend with.

Kim: Yes, I think the two parts of the equation here, it's making honey and the other one is selling honey and the making honey is going to be a lot more difficult and tied to the land where selling honey, It's not what you know, it's who you know.

Jeff: I'll be honest, that's why I, in Colorado, went from selling at local farm markets and roadside stands to just taking my buckets of honey and settling them to the local processor. It was a lot easier and less time intrusive, but that's part of your business plan. How are you going to sell what you make?

Kim: Yes. A good part of that business plan is know the people you're going to be selling to before you got jar one of honey.

Jeff: That's right. Otherwise, you'll have a build-up of jar two and three and four and bucket two. [laughs]

Kim: Yes, exactly right. There should be four people standing on line for that first jar.

Jeff: That's right. That about wraps it up for this episode. Before we go, I want to encourage our listeners to rate us five stars on Apple Podcast, wherever you download and stream the show. Your vote helps other beekeepers find us quicker. Even better, write a review and let other beekeepers looking for a new podcast know what you like. You can get there directly from our website by clicking on reviews along the top of any webpage. As always, we thank Bee Culture, the magazine for American Beekeeping for their continued support of Beekeeping Today Podcast.

We want to thank our regular episode sponsor Global Patties. Check them out at globalpatties.com. Thanks to strong microbials for their support of this podcast. Check out their probiotic line at strongmicrobials.com. We want to thank Better Bee for their longtime support. Check out all their great beekeeping supplies at betterbee.com. Thanks to Northern Bee Books for their support of Bee Book's Old New with Kim Flotttum. Check out all of their books at northernbeebooks.co.uk.

Finally, and most importantly, we want to thank you the Beekeeping today podcast listener for joining us on the show. Feel free to leave us comments and questions at leave, a comment section under each episode on the website. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks a lot, everybody.

[music]

[00:39:14] [END OF AUDIO]

Chris Bush Profile Photo

Chris Bush

owner

Hive Works Honey Company is a family owned and community-focused honey company dedicated to saving the bees and inclusion for all. We could not be where we are without the disabled community and believe that everyone has value and the right to be represented.

We are proud that all of our products taste amazing but also help us push our mission that EVERYONE BELONGS and help promote honey bee awareness through programs sponsored by local partners that share our vision.

It is our ultimate GOAL to be able to create a pipeline of employment skills for young people with disabilities within the honey business as means to support the vision.