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Ayinson
06-14-2011, 11:14 AM
As I'm getting around to making preparations (as in, getting myself equipped with whatever meadmaking thingies I may need, and looking around for good deals on honey) I've been calling around a bit for honey prices.
The problem is, I don't know what's cheap, what's not, and neither do I know when I'm being completely ripped off:p So I figured I'd ask here.

After a call to the Flemish Beekeeper Society (or however I'm supposed to translate that), Weyn's Honing (one of the biggest suppliers of all sorts of varieties in Belgium), and having a look at the prices for honey in my local supermarket, here's what I came up with:

- Flemish Beekeepers all ask the same prices, which is 5 for half a kilo = 6,54$/pound. The dude I called told me this is general wildflower honey.
- Weyn's Honing charges me 11,35/kg, which is 7,45$/pound. This was the price for clover honey since I figured that would be one of the cheaper ones.
- Local supermarket prices are better, going at 3,20 for half a kilo = 4,20$/pound. I do not know which honey this is.

So here's the thing. Weyn's Honey is, as far as I'm concerned, insane. I will only buy honey there if I want some rare variety or something:D My dilemma thus is between the beekeepers and the supermarket. If I buy my honey at the supermarket it will be cheapest, yet I don't know where it comes from, what's in it, if it's even all honey or some Chinese..uh...less..pure...thingy. If I buy from a beekeeper it's a tad more expensive but I am sure where it comes from and that it's pure...

Any hints and or/tips, suggestions, comments, remarks, stories from way back you wish to tell, all is welcome ;)

akueck
06-14-2011, 12:07 PM
US prices aren't necessarily going to directly compare to Europe prices, but... The cheapest I've gotten not-crappy honey in the US was about $2.50/lb at gallon quantity. The most I've spent is $7.30/lb at gallon quantity; this was really expensive but it was very tasty honey. (they charge upwards of $12/lb if you buy it in smaller jars)

I have basically two rules: taste it before you buy it; and if you think it's worth it, it is. At this point in my gustatory career, I mostly refuse to spend more than a few dollars on food/wine I haven't tasted before. Since a bucket of honey can be a big investment, I'd encourage you to get it from a beekeeper that you can meet in person, and have them let you sample the goods. Also, your best bet to get discounts for larger quantity is going to be the beekeeper. See if you can bring your own container too.

Loadnabox
06-14-2011, 01:16 PM
US prices aren't necessarily going to directly compare to Europe prices, but... The cheapest I've gotten not-crappy honey in the US was about $2.50/lb at gallon quantity. The most I've spent is $7.30/lb at gallon quantity; this was really expensive but it was very tasty honey. (they charge upwards of $12/lb if you buy it in smaller jars)

I have basically two rules: taste it before you buy it; and if you think it's worth it, it is. At this point in my gustatory career, I mostly refuse to spend more than a few dollars on food/wine I haven't tasted before. Since a bucket of honey can be a big investment, I'd encourage you to get it from a beekeeper that you can meet in person, and have them let you sample the goods. Also, your best bet to get discounts for larger quantity is going to be the beekeeper. See if you can bring your own container too.

A supermarket here was running a special on generic wildflower honey, $1.25/Pound (2 2pound containers for $5) Maybe I should have gotten more, but strangely it's kind of bland... tastes like honey but not nearly as strong of a flavor.

fatbloke
06-14-2011, 02:25 PM
Ok, well we tend to get similar fluctuations here as well (being not too far from Belgium etc etc).

So, what I do is this.......

I visit the local supermarket, because they have 3 different price ranges (forget the actual types/quality etc for the moment).

Now, the really cheapo "value" range is bottom, but it still fluctuates in price, despite being the kind of honey you'd only use for eating, or for making something like a cyser/melomel/metheglyn that has either a lot of fruit etc, or the other ingredients are quite strongly flavoured, so the actual taste of the honey is less important, because the flavour of one of the other ingredients is the main taste.

They then keep the "own brand", but also cheaper branded honey, which might actually go as far as having some info about it's origin i.e. "forest", "meadow", etc etc. Now that's arguably better, it's certainly more expensive than the value stuff.

Finally, they keep at least one "premium" brand, which defines pretty much, the types of plants that it will have been collected from, though in truth, because they're "produced" by a commercial entity, they don't stray from what's likely to sell, particularly to a given socio-political demographic i.e. very liberal "know it all's" who think that because they read the right papers etc, know all about "what's good".

In truth, this so called "premium" stuff isn't really what it pretends to be, because it's still "very" processed.

What it does do, is give me a base line idea of how much it costs for me to make, allowing for about 3 to 3 and 1/2 lb (1.3 to 1.8 kg per gallon - imperial i.e. 4.55 litres).

I like to use the local honey wholesaler (http://www.paynesbeefarm.co.uk/honey-honey-comb/) (also sells apiary equipment). Now don't get me wrong, they're good in the sense that the larger quantity the cheaper it is (not a mega difference though), but they also don't keep much in the same way you might find if you look though one of the more well known US dealers, like Beefolks (http://www.beefolks.com/shopdisplayproducts.asp?id=5&cat=Honey%2C+Bulk) etc.

Now I haven't had anything from Beefolks, but a friend in Oklahoma did manage to send me a gallon of a very nice local wild flower honey. Apart from getting the honey, what it did demonstrate was that while some of the wonderful sounding honies that Beefolks keep, would be nice to try, the shipping is the killer. The cheapest we found was the US Postal Service (USPS).

Hence you'd need to work out the total cost including the shipping, for both 1 gallon and 5 gallon amounts (a US gallon of honey weighs about 12lb a.k.a. 5.44kg). So you end up keeping an eye on the US$ exchange rate.

Which makes your comment in another thread about honey from eastern Europe, a little more worth considering.

The bucket of Polish buckwheat that I got last year, wasn't as dark or "farm yard", in the way I've heard it described here at Gotmead, but it's still different enough tasting to have been worth the effort.

Ideally, if you can, use a number of different local beekeepers and ask them if you can just buy enough for a gallon/5 litre batch, but try and get it when it's been separated from the comb, but with little or no other processing. Maybe ask about samples and if you like the taste, then try it.

The members here at Gotmead, who are in the US, don't always quite follow how the different markets here and in Europe operate. They enjoy an excellent range of available honey, from a number of US based dealers. It makes me very envious of what's available to them. Even if they have to ship it half way across the US, it's still better than having the limited range available here.

So don't "write off" using something that might have come from Eastern Europe, or what the hell, if the / rate is in your favour, and you can carry or drive enough to make it worth while, then there's always "the Chunnel".........

And for anyone in the US who reads this, it's not any kind of criticism. It's fact. There's a number of products that are available here, from US companies. The difference being that in the US you're likely to be able to find their entire range, whereas here, they'll only supply a limited range of what they think might sell (and don't forget, US sales tax, is invariably, considerably lower for just about all things that it applies too). The same seems to apply to honey.......

MattHollingsworth
06-14-2011, 04:03 PM
For comparison's sake: Croatian honeys generally go for 5.40 euros to 6.75 euros for a 900 gram jar (2 pounds), with some specialty honeys like rosemary, lavender or sage going for 9.45 euros for a jar.

That equates to $3.90 to $4.87 per pound for the normal honey and $6.82 per pound for the specialty stuff.

This is buying directly from the beekeepers. No idea what it costs in the store.

Ayinson
06-14-2011, 05:02 PM
Thanks for the replies!

Fatbloke, as far as the supermarkets here go, I'll check out a few more whenever I have the time in the next couple of days, because not all of them carry the same honey, there might be price/quality differences so I'm pretty much checking out all options here. As a student it wouldn't be fun to buy a whole load of honey and then end up with a failed batch of mead (but then again, that wouldn't be funny for anyone I guess:D), so that is actually my main concern and reason why I'm looking for great quality stuff at the best price it's offered.
Also, I'm wondering, since the UK and Belgium are pretty close in distance, if you would know of any delivery companies (like Beefolks) here on the European mainland... Because it seems logical that if it would come from somewhere in the EU, it would be cheaper for us, no? But a quick search didn't really pop something up, also because I don't really know what exactly to search for:)
And also, thank you for the very extensive reply, it pretty much painted the entire picture I needed:D

Matt, how are they taste-wise? And,uh,would there be companies delivering to Belgium?:p

MattHollingsworth
06-14-2011, 05:52 PM
Matt, how are they taste-wise? And,uh,would there be companies delivering to Belgium?:p

They're tasty. But why would you want to order honey from so far away? No good honey there? Shipping will kill you, I'd think. And Croatia is not yet in the EU, so no Schengen, so you'd also have to pay customs.

I have no idea if they'd ship. They're just local beekeepers.

If I were you, I'd buy from local beekeepers in your area.

Ayinson
06-14-2011, 06:10 PM
They're tasty. But why would you want to order honey from so far away? No good honey there? Shipping will kill you, I'd think. And Croatia is not yet in the EU, so no Schengen, so you'd also have to pay customs.

I have no idea if they'd ship. They're just local beekeepers.

If I were you, I'd buy from local beekeepers in your area.

I was kidding about the shipping:p Only reason I'd order something from far away was if the shipping was really reasonable, OR if it's something really special (like, for example, bamboo honey or something) which I can't get around here but would really like to use in a recipe:)
I think I'll just start with some honey from the supermarket, since it'll only be a 5litre JAO, and see how that works out tastewise. Then later on, when I have some more experience making mead, I might move on to better (and logically, more expensive) honeys. Seems like the best course of action:).

Chevette Girl
06-14-2011, 10:32 PM
When I go to my apiary with my own jars, honey from their bulk tank costs me just under $7/kilo if I get more than 5 kg... I'll let you know what I pay per kg when I get a bucket of it soon :)

I'm also in agreement with Fatbloke, kinda jealous about what's available in the US that we don't get here due to climate. But oh, well. The two kinds of honey I can get locally are damn good and there are other apiaries not that far away who specialize in other varietals like aster/goldenrod autumn honey, just not at prices I'm willing to pay for mead.

MattHollingsworth
06-15-2011, 02:01 AM
I was kidding about the shipping:p Only reason I'd order something from far away was if the shipping was really reasonable, OR if it's something really special (like, for example, bamboo honey or something) which I can't get around here but would really like to use in a recipe:)
I think I'll just start with some honey from the supermarket, since it'll only be a 5litre JAO, and see how that works out tastewise. Then later on, when I have some more experience making mead, I might move on to better (and logically, more expensive) honeys. Seems like the best course of action:).

All sounds good to me. Makes sense.

fatbloke
06-15-2011, 07:14 AM
I have yet to find any smaller scale wholesalers on mainland Europe. I did locate a supplier in Hamburg, when I was first looking for buckwheat honey. The downside was that this was a commodity broker and insisted on a 5000 kg minimum purchase, which is rather over my head.

That's partly why it would be great to get some shipped from the US. It works out about 5 or so per lb (buying a 5 gallon bucket).

I'd suggest that you just deal direct with a local beekeeper, then you should be able to get enough for smaller batches, and keep costs down.........

chams
06-23-2011, 07:39 PM
Wow! Makes me feel better about what I'm paying from an apiary run by my brother-in-law's best man.
Bring your own bucket and the wildflower is $3/lb. Nice honey too!
I saw a sign on his wall from the Ontario Bee Keepers Assoc. that said that 2010 standard prices were $3/lb. in bulk.
He charged me $18 for 3 kg. and threw in the first bucket for free. :)

He rents his bees out to farmers for pollination, but for some reason, the last batch he said was mostly Linden tree.

TheAlchemist
06-23-2011, 11:14 PM
... for some reason, the last batch he said was mostly Linden tree.

Hmmm...Linden Blossom...good sleepy time tea...I'd love to try the honey, seems like it might make a good sleepy time mead...

Fred Bee
06-24-2011, 01:09 AM
If I buy my honey at the supermarket it will be cheapest, yet I don't know where it comes from, what's in it, if it's even all honey or some Chinese..uh...less..pure...thingy. If I buy from a beekeeper it's a tad more expensive but I am sure where it comes from and that it's pure...


Sounds like you have your answer! Of course, I am a beekeeper so I am biased. ;)

Mars Colonist
06-24-2011, 11:46 AM
Hmmm...Linden Blossom...good sleepy time tea...I'd love to try the honey, seems like it might make a good sleepy time mead...

This is the same as Basswood honey? Has a distinct lime flavor...

wayneb
06-25-2011, 12:00 AM
This is the same as Basswood honey? Has a distinct lime flavor...

And not necessarily a welcome flavor in a traditional mead. If you're going to use linden/basswood honey, I'd recommend making a small batch (1 gallon or so) of traditional first, to see if you like its rather 'unique' flavor. ;)

BTW - The linden in Europe is supposed to produce a honey that is markedly different from that coming from North America, and one linden-based mead that I had recently (I can't recall the maker, but I think they are Danish), was actually quite nice, with that funky medicinal phenolic flavor significantly attenuated, compared with similar N. American products.