2006 - Volume #30, Issue #4, Page #08[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
"Comb Tray" Puts Money In Honey
"Honeycomb production and sales is labor intensive, and there is no economy of scale," explains Andrew Sperlich. "Everyone said there was no market, but I felt the market had disappeared because the supply dwindled."
Sperlich and his partner Anne Mifsud, who also own Norfolk Aviaries, set out to introduce economy of scale where the more you produce, the less time and labor involved. They did it by making the bee do the hard work of filling packages with honeycomb.
Working with funding from two government grants, Sperlich came up with Bee-O-Pac. The food grade plastic trays consist of eight compartments with a honeycomb pattern embossed on the bottom surface. Beekeepers snap two together before slipping them into the hive for bees to fill with honeycomb. Once removed from the hive, the compartments are cut apart, capped, labeled and ready for sale as separate containers. Each one weighs about 4 to 5 oz.
"Tests carried out by the University of Guelph show they reduce the labor involved in packaging honeycomb by 75 percent," says Sperlich.
He admits the process takes special handling and timing and describes it as the ultimate in beekeeping management. Comb production is best with young bees with active glands for wax production in early summer. For those who learn to manage it, the payoff is substantial. The suggested retail price for the ready-to-fill packs is about $8/frame (16 small containers).
"The comb-filled packs retail in Canada for about $4 each, which makes the beekeeper about $4/lb. for honey, compared to about 85ó/lb. for honey they sell by the barrel.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Andrew Sperlich, Bee-O-Sphere Technologies, 1709 Front Road, RR #2, St. Williams, Ontario, Canada N0E 1P0 (ph 519 586-8289; firstname.lastname@example.org; www. beeosphere.com).
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