Making money from honey – how to sell your harvest

Everyone knows that bees make honey, but beginner beekeepers are often surprised by exactly how much they produce. If you’re faced with a glut of honey, the simplest solutions are storing it for yourself or giving jars away to friends and family. You may also want to think about selling your honey – but that’s slightly more complicated.

In New Zealand, you can’t just jar your honey and set up a stall at the local market. If you want to sell your produce, you need to meet food safety regulations and labelling requirements, and manage potential contamination. That means it may not be worth doing unless you have a large amount of excess to sell every year.

If you do want to investigate selling your honey, here’s what you need to think about:

Food safety rules

If you wish to sell honey in New Zealand, you need to meet the requirements of the 2014 Food Act (exporting is a bit more complicated). The Act sets guidelines around processing, handling and storage, to make sure your products are safe to eat.

Unless you set your own Food Safety Programme and get an exemption for your business, you will need to process your honey in approved premises – usually a commercial kitchen or plant.

Avoiding Tutin contamination

One of the major issues around selling honey in New Zealand is Tutin contamination. This contamination usually happens later in the season, when bees collect honeydew from passion-vine hoppers that have in turn fed on tutu (a poisonous native shrub).

Tutin contamination makes honey toxic to humans, so testing is a good idea, even if you’re not planning to sell your honey. To be able to sell your honey, you must demonstrate that the Tutin is below a certain level.

Labelling laws

Once you have processed, packaged, and proven your honey is safe, you can think about labelling jars for sale. A cute logo and design are great, but you also need to meet legal labelling standards.

These requirements include nutritional information and specific warnings for products which contain royal jelly. If you’re selling manuka honey, you’ll also need to meet requirements to prove the purity of your product.