Sunday, February 28, 2021

Building your beekeeping business with the mindset of building the first franchise affiliate

Building your beekeeping business with the mindset of building your first franchise affiliate.

BE WORTH IT pty ltd

A simple and yet effective tip: 

Read a business related book a week
, and you should be right for live!

If I could start building a business again, what would I do different?

Even if its not the most exciting topic of all, speaking for myself, the topic of tax and asset protection are your biggest concern from the very start, in fact, even before you start and register your company should be in your focus. The reason unfortunately you would only find out at a later date, at which point it becomes very costly to change your company structures, and or moving your expensive assets into structures which allow you asset protection and choosing the right company structure for your intentions. The reason for this is, once your opportunity comes along, you want to already know what setup you require, and don't loose the timing and momentum and get going, without still needing to learn those foundations.

I know I am a simple Beekeeper, and yet I am telling you should go back to reading heaps of books prior you start in any business or financial venture. Apart of beekeeping itself I have a few book recommendations along the way, see for yourself.

If you happen to live in Australia I can highly recommend "How to Legally Reduce Your TAX" from Tony Melvin & Ed Chan for starters. The book walks you through different setups, and teaches you around Trusts which can be used in combination to your business structures. A very important lesson to learn. I'm sure there are similar books for your specific country similar to the stated one.

If you are lucky enough to purchase your business property or other costly machinery, ensure you setup asset protection from start, otherwise changing them will be very costly and include stamp duty as well as potential other fees, and that is big $$$ after the fact. So make sure you know from start.

Learn about your legal obligations and bookkeeping and licensing requirements demanded by the chosen company structure you are operating in. Once again, in Perth Australia there is a government entity helping start-up companies learning some fundamental business basics, and giving some good advice. Small Business Development Center - SBDC Perth, there may be similar institutions in your country also. The department of Commerce in your location may be a start to finding more resources. Learning to comply with standards set by your industry will hopefully keep you out of trouble.

Another good point I had learned was by the Rich Dad Poor Dad book series, especially in Cashflow Quadrants as to learning about personal tax and how businesses deal with tax, and what the difference is.
Once again, financial, legal, asset protection topics. You'll probably also learn to rather "control stuff, than trying to owning them". Also the book showed me that if I happen to walk down the sole trader path and I happen to become successful, how little "life" I would have left, as one tends to get busier and busier the more successful one becomes, to a point where the business will start to consume the requirement of having 24 hours in a day.
At that point, quality starts to take its toll and start an downhill spiral, and quality is certainly not a point I would wish dropping at any stage.
Upping your financial literacy is the key takeaway in his books, and getting you started on all those less "interesting" topics, yet very important subjects, helping you to keep your business going and or making it work at all.

Another very good book to start with is E-myth revisited why most small businesses fail by Michael E. Gerber. It basically show's up, that most people probably aren't the Elon Musk's of this world, and rather start their business as a entrepreneurial seizure in their daily employee live or as "technicians" as Michael explains it in his book nicely. Unfortunately, too many small business fail in this sole trader world within a few years. Most business fail within 12 month, others may last for even 5 years, until the owner is powered out, or his financial limits have been reached. He also preaches for treating your business as a prototype for a franchise system.
And the reason for this is to get your setup, and procedures documented and systematized, so it can be followed by yourself, and or any other person you may hire to perform your regular, recurring tasks to the same standards as if you would be doing that very same task, and this is probably by far one of the largest take away's in the beginning of your venture. Michael Gerber also points out to make sure you think big, and to start with the end in mind and work your way back to the present.

So far you probably have noticed the trend here, reading books is a key part of it. Now if happen to be a slow reader like myself, try ordering a few different books on the topic of speed reading, this may improve your weekly book consumption quiet drastically. Also I would strongly recommend taking notes and or creating a summary of your key take ways from those books, as refreshing your memory is way faster than, initially learning about the topic.

Once you get your business started, you will probably find yourself overwhelmed with all the above topics you have taken on, while following your initial dreams, in our case building up a Beekeeping enterprise.
Hence, if I could go back in time, I would first consult those books and only then start planning and mapping out of what I have in mind. Trust me, it would be a better approach, than heading into it the venture and learning on the go, but most readers will probably have done the exact same thing. 

When it comes to video training there are heaps out there, topic specific or general or a combination of both. I had gone through Brad Sugars 30X video series, and have read Buying Customers 2.0 as well as Instant referrals, and once again it becomes clear he also follows the franchise system, however has lots of interesting tips and tricks on how to run your organization and what to focus on, where as he is pushing Marketing over Sales, as sales is a 1:1 action and Marketing is a one to many situation bringing you more return overall.
He has lots of tips and tricks on how to get your organization out of the daily chaos, and teaches about systematizing your organization, to allow you to take 6 month off, while your business successfully continues without you, and you slowly transition into the business owner role. 

Also a good read is "Your Next Five Moves" by Patrick Bet-David, where my key takeaway was his analogy of playing chess, and how masters of the game plan numerous steps ahead in any stage, mapping out multiple scenarios, prior occurring. Basically have your sequences already made up on where you intend to go, also focusing on what to do and in what sequence and not to spend too much time on how to do it, as this itself will unfold as you are going along.

At the very start of the journey, you also may want to start working on "how to think about the thinking".
I can highly recommend the works of Edward de Bono in his titles 6 Thinking hats or The use of Lateral Thinking, as he gives an alternative view on how our brain works, and how to avoid "argumentational thinking"  and rather have people contribute to jointly think in parallel of solutions of your problems you intend to solve.
Think and grow rich by Napoleon Hill are just classics in entrepreneurship and lead you to your trail of enlightenment of self improvement being the key success factor to your future success. From Clement W. Stone, to Mr. Carnagie, and Earl Nightingale to Henry Ford, are all good entrepreneurial sources. Mental Dynamite by Hill and Stone, was a good eye opener around positive mental attitude and how it affects everything else. However, what probably struck me quite a bit was the concept of what is called the "business mirror". Its basically looking into the mirror and looking at all the skills and knowledge required to operate a successful business and or to create one. If you see a lack of knowledge in your mirror in a certain area, find it and to fill that gap and move on. Its a simple concept, but showed me on how many topics I need to improve myself, and there are heaps, from business, to finance, to learning about floral and biological topics or just perform the technicalities around the beekeeping industry in my example.

After noticing how critical reading the right set of books can be, here a list of them and a short take away from them, this list will grow over time as I intend to add as I go.

5 AM Club
An inspiring book with deep meaning full episodes, slightly on the over enthusiastic side of things but overall making me think about a few things, while looking at how you should own your morning routine and how it affects the rest of your day as well as many other good bits and pieces to take away.

Power of Habit
I really enjoyed this book and can recommend it to anyone. Not just to identify your current habits and how to alter them and or improve things, but rather also because it has vital information on how to use cues from your customers and build a new routine and later reward them illustrating this with multiple research examples.

More books and info to come.... (subject to making time to update the blog entry)

Insurance is a topic for another day... 

You will need connections

Supply chain connections, bookkeepers and accountants, lawyers on several different matters, intellectual property attorneys, bank managers, graphic designers, web designers and developers, printing agencies, recruitment agencies, marketing advisors, the list goes on. You basically need to build up your business management team and choose your consultants / contacts to run a successful business.

Usually one only starts to make these business connections, when the situation already has happened, and or you tend to be too late to initiate a new connection. In some instances it can be difficult to find the correct resource in the time required in order not to loose your timing or business advantage. You should have initially already made the connections ideally, before you need their services. Not all advice received may be the one you are after, or which is right for you. Don't be afraid to get alternative answers to your questions. Be mindful that some consultants may not have reached the size of where you are heading into themselfs, hence you may use the wrong resource as the resource itself may not be able to seeing the bigger picture, and you have outgrown your advisor before you know it.

When you first start out, and you happen to be new in town you may want to join Small business meetup groups or similar  to form your initial connections, helping you find materials or resources you may need or need at some stage.
Its always good to have a phone full of contact numbers you directly can engage, this however, may take some time to happen and will become more and more valuable over time.

Beekeeping / industry related good books involve:

AgGuide NSW - Beekeeping books such as Queen bee breeding
Douglas Somerville - Honey and pollen flora
Jay Smith - Better Queens
Walter, T. Kelly - How to Keep Bees and Sell Honey
VDRB - Das schweizerische Bienenbuch - not sure if there is an English translation on this.

Youtube may container good information, and less good information, the more educated you become the more you can judge for yourself if you wish to test the shown procedure for yourself. Sometimes experimenting yourself may lead to new discoveries. We try to keep an open view, and test multiple methods to find out what best works for our own operation, while uploading those attempts on social media as informational content to our viewers. 

A few Beekeeping related Youtube channels I tend to follow are as follows:

Don the fat bee man
The Bush Bee Man
Kamon Reynolds
a Canadian Beekeeper’s Blog
Richard Noel
Jason Chrisman
Randy Oliver
Trevor Gillbanks
UoG Honey

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Using bee hive scales to measure pollen consumption / pollen availability in a given area

Monitoring floral pollen availability in a given area for honey bees in Western Australia 2019 - 2021:

While our focus at BE WORTH IT pty ltd relies on the creation of quality queens and strong nucleus colonies (NUCs) for backyard beekeepers as well as commercial peers, we soon realized that tracking the nectar flow alone is not the critical factor when it comes to building up strong colonies.
Out of trial and error, and finding a few Youtube references around how to open feed of pollen substitute and conducting our first experiments we knew we would need to somehow track the data on how much supplied feed our bees would consume, in order to better predict when we should start raising our queens. We had to get some more scientific data additional to the general "beekeepers feel" for what is happening in our area of operations.
We found that measuring pollen substitute consumption would give us clear indication at what times during the year there would be ample, quality pollen available to the bees by natural foraging activities. This would be shown by bees starting to ignore the pollen feeder.
Our provided feed would only be consumed during absence of any pollen at all and or during times of little natural pollen available within the 3km radius.
We think that the combination of our measured agricultural data with the general "impression" on what is happening is very valuable for our decision making process.


The graph below shows the pollen substitute consumption in Gingin Western Australia during 13.March 2019 - 22.February 2021

The blue line indicates the average temperature, the black line shows the weight of pollen substitute feeders declining by consumption of the bees, and the feeders being re-filled on a weekly basis +/- a few days depending our availability to restock. It becomes very evident, that during some parts of the year, the decline of pollen substitute would decline to a minimum and our bees would consume less than a few kg of white flour over several weeks rather than consuming up to 2-3 kg a daily basis on the measured  feeder setup alone.
Another "felt" observation was, that smaller colonies residing on only a few frames of bees would still consume our less grade pollen substitute over natural pollen available to them. It seemed like they where after "easy to get fast food" close by rather than using their energy to travel further distances until they got to a critical mass to travel further journeys to get the "real stuff". But this is just a "felt" observation and definitely does not come with any scientific backing as far as we know today.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Western Australia Council rules and regulations about keeping bees in the backyard

 WA Council rules and regulations about keeping bees

Below we have listed a link collection of rules and regulations indicating the file name and what to look out for. The below list should assist you as a guide on your own investigation about keeping bees in your specific case and area.

Generally most of the councils will ask you to stay away from property boundaries a certain distance, maintain a water source preferably 10-15m away from the hive, avoid flight path crossing bus stops or cycle path. Some councils may have application fees while others do not have any fees involved. Also there will be limitations in regards to how many hives you can have onsite.

This is blog entry is a "living document" and will be extended as needed, please feel free to send us your council regulation and we will happily add it to our collection. In case your council's document is not listed, let us know and will try to find it and post it. Generally beekeeping related rules are mostly found under your specific councils health or animal section in majority of the cases, others seem to still lack that information, and will need to be contacted.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Our Story - where and how it all began ...

 BE WORTH IT pty ltd - our story - where it all began

Many many moons ago, at a time we still had lived in Switzerland, we had been experimenting with growing all sorts of crops in various types of soil, we also played around using hydroponics and Aquaponics and in some occasions we also tried growing crops without water and soil all together using water mist / fog based systems. The hole focus was always on growing crops and optimizing the growing media for maximum harvest, which ever we had intended to use. 



Beekeeping as such was a logical "accident" to happen later down the line, once we arrived in Australia, and had developed our backyard, and once continued of where we had stopped in Switzerland by building raised beds, veggie patches and planting 20+ fruit trees around our house in Perth's suburbs and continued the efforts of amending our pile of sand and turning it into a healthy soil around the house.

When in 2016 we had gotten our first backyard bee hive due to optimizing the next logical step in the sequence, pollination of the crops! While my brother Gordon, previously had gained previous experience by having worked for Kim Fewster and the Fewster Farm in a commercial beekeeping entity a few years earlier, this while I had zero experience with the bees at the time and below is how we first started, our first backyard hive:

On a sunny Sunday while having showed off the bees and pointing out the queen to my older brother Donald and the kids, I must of dropped the queen and or squashed her during the excitement, as probably quite a few new and excited beekeepers would do!
Exactly 14 days later, again on Sunday I would inspect the bees again, and I would even have more excitement, as I found queen cells for the very first time. I remember how I phoned my brother Gordon, asking him what to do, as one of the virgin queens was just about to push the capping off or queen cell and emerge the very moment I had the frame in my hands. Time was not on my side, and I quickly gathered a spare box and improvised a bottom and hive lid. This was probably the start, of what grew bigger and bigger over the next few years following. 

Out of our first hive we ended up with 3 splits, this while our backyard pollination efforts started to pay off nicely around the house with having a garden full of fruit and vegetables ranging from Avocados, Bananes to loads and loads of pumpkins.


After about a felt ton of pumpkins and all family members and friends starting to stop accepting any further pumpkins we knew we are on track with the soil and bee experiments, at least we knew how to grow "stuff" also in Australia in comparison to some rather icy growing attempts we had tried prior in Switzerland shown below. However not all of our crops always had been bumper crops...


One or two years into it in Western Australia and the bee-fever got us, and out of a few backyard hives, grew a few more and more, and with it the requirement for more hive sites.


Continuing our expansion, came the need to purchase more queens. However, out of our first 15 introduced queens, we probably had 4x queens actually making it, this by doing all sorts of beginner mistakes we could have done and our missing knowledge around the surrounding floral sources and flowering patterns would cause us high casualty rates in lost hives and the first big encounter of wax moth's destruction capabilities.


As we had been had been increasing our queen numbers, so had the boxes, frames, tops and bottoms had to increase too, and there comes a time where your hobby starts to go out of control. Boxes, boxes and more boxes... We had put in quite some time construct our own insulate our wooden boxes with a custom setup.


We expanded faster as we could continue to build our own wooden hives with custom insulation fitted to them, we had to move on to Paradise Polystyrene bee boxes to keep up with the bee expansion rates.


At the time we operated based out of our own homes and garages and pretty much any start-up, we once again had to move on and scale up and get a bigger shed and started operating out of Gingin Western Australia on a large bush block.


As the story goes on, the large shed once thought to be big enough for the project, has been outgrown and we needed some extra storage space and started arranging our headquarter.
Meanwhile we have had a few very close calls in 2020 and 2021 in terms of bush fires right in front of our doorstep and it had been a scary and catastrophic bush fire season for many families in WA.


And as time goes on, our trail and error continues...


Its one of those stories, probably told by every emerging beekeeping enterprise which is going through its expansion, initially having started with a 6x4 foot trailer and a handful of hives, and soon needed to upgrade soon to a 7x4, when a few month later we are using a 7m flat top trailer, and we will probably will soon be upgrading to the next level soon. (written 30.4.2021)


More and more customers are coming into appreciation of our quality NUCs.


Some considerations before you are getting bees into your backyard

Where can I buy bees?   Well, right here:    Buying bees in Perth Western Australia But, before you do that, lets have a look at a few cons...