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One Sweet Home-Based Business

HONEYBEE FACTS

Honey is the only food that includes all the substance necessary to sustain life including water.

A hive of bees must fly 5,000 miles to produce one pound of honey.

To make honey, bees drop the collected nectar into the honeycomb and then evaporate it by fanning their wings.

Honeybees collect nectar from approximately two million flowers to make one pound of honey, so nectar is collected from 17 million flowers to make 8-1/2 pounds of honey to make one pound of beeswax.

Studies have proven beeswax candles improve sleep, allergies, hay fever and lessens severe asthma attacks.

Burning beeswax candles leaves the air fresher and cleaner.

Bees transform nectar into honey, royal jelly and beeswax.

When Georgine Mann’s now four-year-old son Jesse was born, she decided she wanted to raise him at home and not in a day-care centre. When her maternity leave was over, she gave up her job at the local credit union and opened a day care in her home.

“June 2008 I decided that it was time to stop providing day care and concentrate on expanding value-added products to our apiary. We had been selling our products at Brandon Farmers Market and local craft sales. In 2008 we did a total of 98 craft sales from Dauphin south to Deloraine west to the Saskatchewan border and east to Winnipeg,” said Mann.

The Manns have a large variety of value-added products such as honey dill sauce, numerous flavours of creamed honey, beeswax hand cream, lip balm, beeswax candles and tea lights. Georgine also will make up a gift basket to your specifications. At farmers’ markets she always has baking available made with honey.

“After a number of customers requested I put together a brochure, in doing so, I also discovered the negative effects of the paraffin candles on our health as well as the environment and discovered the positives of beeswax. No additives, colour or scents are added to the candles. I clean our own beeswax. I want to have healthy products to sell to our customers,” said Mann.

“Knowing where to market our products has been trial and error. I have learned by keeping track and listening to our customers’ needs and wants. If sales are not going very well for two years in a row, then I look to replace it with a different sale. When I started going to sales in the fall of 2007 I had no idea where to look for different ones. By going to one or two, I would have requests from other vendors and my customers to come to their sales. From two or three sales now I go to 98. Some days are overwhelming, but with great support of family and friends you find a way to keep going. Not to forget about the smile on customers’ faces when they see you,” said Mann.

“A very strong commitment to business is needed to make a home business work for you and your family. You could have a great idea but if the commitment is not there, then the business will not be either. Sometimes you need to put in 90-hour weeks. I highly recommend taking a customer service course as you need a strong customer base,” said Mann.

Mann’s first experience with bees was working with her uncle’s bees when she was 13. She worked for him a few summers and a couple other apiaries in the Dauphin/Gilbert Plains area.

“I used to joke with my husband, John, if we lived at Gilbert Plains we could take over Uncle Gordon’s apiaries when he retired. The spring of 2006 when we went to visit him he said he thought he would sell the business after 30 years of working with bees. I asked John what he would think about buying the business and he gave me his typical reply, ‘whatever you think dear.’ So the process started, including trips to the credit union, a business plan, research, reading and I’m sure some sore ears from my questions. My uncle helped us get things moved and set up over the winter and get through the spring. The beginning of August 2008 he found out he had cancer and died two weeks later. Things happen for a reason and I’m happy and proud that we were given the chance to carry on something my uncle loved and worked hard to achieve,” said Mann.

“The most rewarding aspect of running your own value-added business from your country home is the ability to be home with your children. We are all involved some way in the business. Husband John and Dannie (17) are my second set of arms, Brett (14) helps out where needed and even Jesse loves to help in the honey house, his favourite job being the honey tester,” said Mann.

Georgine and John Mann can be reached at 204-328-7332. – Joan Airey writes from Rivers, Manitoba

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