I am looking to expand my bee hives and build more apiaries’ in West London. I would like to grow my chocolate business, supply shops and expand the new range of natural beauty products I make from beeswax and cocoa butter.
About the project
The initial investment is to increase the amount of bee hives and build a new apiary. I also need a van and more tools to manage this, as well as a honey extractor, spare equipment, hive nukes (mini hives, for expansion and swarm control) and new colonies to help manage the bees and overwintering them.
The main funding for the stretch target will be to expand/scale the chocolate business and beauty products.
At present I make everything by hand. I explored the market and invested £40,000 of my own money and a year of my time creating the brand and a range of luxury honey chocolates and it’s been amazing. I started with 1 chocolate honey truffle and now I have developed a whole range of honey truffles in Milk/Dark chocolate.
- Truffles in Plain, Toasted Sesame and Coconut in both Milk/Dark
- Salted honey caramels in Milk/Dark
- Chocolate covered honeycomb in Milk/Dark
- Fresh cut bees honeycomb
- Pots of honey
All made with fine French chocolate and raw wildflower honey I produce in west London. The products have proven to be a great success and very popular.
At present it’s made to order and mainly for market or event’s I do. So I am very limited in how much I can produce store and supply. I have been approached by a number of high end shops who want to stock my luxury chocolates, but I can’t make enough to supply them yet. So I need to be able to get more products made, stored/packed and delivered to meet the customer and business demands.
Initially the chocolate equipment is quite expensive to purchase and that’s why I am funding this project now. The equipment needed will really increase production and allow me to expand the business to be able to supply shops and grow the business and go from a small market supply to be able to supply a range of shops, delis and cafes.
With a better equipped kitchen I could employ staff, part time and full time. Take on an apprentice and other helpers needed for marketing and running the business, PR and social media side.
As funds grow, I can invest in more chocolate melting tanks to prepare chocolate and also a Moulding Machine/Enrober which tempers large amounts of chocolate on demand, so you can fill orders to coat truffles, honeycomb and make minibars and other seasonal creations quickly or same day. Also a dry fridge, to store and set tempered chocolate. With this equipment I could take on bigger orders and get Honeybee chocolate where it needs to be, in the right shops in and around/London and available for you when you want it.
The Beauty products are a new range, and uses the other bee products I produce and it’s proved very popular so far. I created a very natural range of beeswax lip balm and body butters, all made from bee products beeswax, honey and propolis and chocolate cocoa butter. To grow this I need to get branded labels, new packaging and more safety certificates.
I also have a developed a male range of products and a new brand to support these. The products are all made as above from my beeswax and cocoa butter; this range includes hair wax, beard and moustache wax, it’s all natural and male grooming nature’s way. These are nice luxury products and are all made from other bee keeping products that are a by-product from beekeeping and the chocolate. So I am now using everything I produce from the bees, its amazing quality and it’s great to have no waste.
Honeybee began 10 years ago, I started making truffles and exploring all the different chocolates I could find. I looked far and wide and really liked the high quality being produced by some French and Italian artisan producers. I created a really good honey chocolate recipe and 3 years ago I decided to get bees to help the declining honeybee populations. I wanted to practice natural bee keeping methods, so I started with a top bar hive, all natural comb, I don’t feed or treat them and let them build there comb to the size they want and so far it is working. They are thriving and expanding to 7 hives now, and I need to manage this with new apiary.
Early last year I decided to explore the idea of selling my honey chocolates commercially, which are now made with my own honey. It sounded like a great idea, I was producing 1 of the 4 ingredient’s I use right here in west London.
I got a stand and exhibited at the Salon du Chocolate event in London Olympia, and sold all I could make every day for 3 days. It was mayhem for me – I had a queue of 3 people thick at the stand wanting to taste and buy the delicious honey chocolates. I had very little sleep and made chocolate at night to replenish stock for each day. It was exhausting but great fun. People loved the idea of honey chocolates with honey from local bees. It was buzzing! I was advised to enter all the products for awards and interviewed by radio and newspaper and approached by some very passionate buyers of shops in London.
I have tested and explored both B2C and B2B customers and business alike and talked to both at markets. And I know there is enough demand for our high end luxury, natural products. I have shops that are ready to stock and I need to supply them with chocolates. I also have an online shop where you can buy now.
You can find me every Saturday at Richmond Market and Sunday at Chiswick Market.
Please feel free to come along and chat about the business