When was the last time you saw a honey bee? That is a question concerning a lot of people these days as colony collapse disorder takes thousands of hives every year. One new SCORE Lancaster-Lebanon client is doing something about that in his new venture Smucker’s Fields of Honey.
Joe Fields is a proud veteran of the 101st Airborne Division turned beekeeper. When Joe came to SCORE he had done a lot of “homework.” He acquired in-depth knowledge of the apiary business and had done a significant amount of research to gather information about the costs of starting and operating an apiary business as well as the estimated revenue from honey sales, the sale of hybrid queens, swarm removal, the sale of bee colonies, and the potential of offering pollination services. Working with his mentor, Rich Young, they created a three-year financial plan for the business that Joe and his partner, Jonathan Smucker, were able to share with a private investor who agreed to provide the financing they needed to start the business. Since then, Joe and Jonathan have been able to purchase nuclear bee colonies, queens for breeding, wildflower seeds for meadow planting, and to order the honey processing and packaging equipment they need.
“Over the past few months, my SCORE Lancaster-Lebanon mentor has helped me understand more of the business aspect of what I do. The bees are the easy part for me. The paperwork has been challenging and coming from a military background I never had to deal with all of the financial details. Rich has helped out so much with all of this and showed me how to create models and quotes for getting the business up and running.”
Joe Fields, co-owner Smucker’s Fields of Honey
Above all, they have been very creative in finding locations for the hundreds of hives they need to place, including developing a relationship with the Lancaster County Conservancy that has enabled them to create a wildflower field in a previously overgrown area of Kelly’s Run Nature Preserve that they’re populating with many of their hives. The new 13-acre area, now known as Pollinator Park, where Joe will be leading a Pollinator Workshop that coincides with National Pollinator Week, June 18 – 24. The workshop is on Saturday, June 23 from 8:30 am until 2:00 pm and registration is suggested.
SCORE Lancaster-Lebanon mentor Rich Young has only been working with Joe for about three months now, but he is impressed with his dedication and discipline as an entrepreneur.
“Joe has proven to be a passionate, resourceful, hard worker who is committed to this business for many reasons that go well beyond using it to make a living. Joe and Jonathan believe in the value of preserving these wonderful insects, the environment that they live in, and the health benefits of honey, pollen, and other bee by-products. While Joe and I are very different people, we have developed a very good relationship based on mutual trust and a shared desire to see the business become successful. Joe is a patient teacher and he has taken the time to help me learn about the apiary business and the art and science of nurturing bees. It’s been a rewarding experience for both of us.”
Read more about Smuckers on Lancaster Online.