Texas Hobbyist Beekeepers Labeling & Selling Honey, 2019

by Marie C. Kocyan

In our PBA Bylaws, part of our mission is to improve marketing of honey bee products, so a current regulations summary seems appropriate when considering selling your golden crop! Your best honey is extracted soon after the spring nectar flow and curing period, early to mid-July in East Texas, but can be extracted up to mid-September if very warm to freely flow and before the fall nectar flow of goldenrod, asters, ragweed, etc., if there is much left after summer dearth! After reserving enough for family, friends, Christmas gifts, etc., you may wish to sell the remaining to the public. Our state of Texas has particular honey laws and regulations if you are a “Small Honey Production Operation” (SP), meaning you wish to sell less than 2500 lbs. (42-50 5-gallon buckets) – regulations on who sells, how, where, and what should be included on your labeling.

According to the two current Texas Statutes sites concerning honey, Sec. 437.0197 thru 0199 of https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/HS/htm/HS.437.htm (9/1/15), and Subchapter E., Sec. 131.081 thru 084 (and other sec. within for beekeeping) of https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/AG/htm/AG.131.htm (9/1/83), the SP beekeeper (owns or leases, or is the beekeeper of honey bee colonies in TX producing the honey) and his/her family only are allowed to sell, and only retail sales to the public at the point of sale (no Internet sales such as with a cart/ordering, no wholesale and/or resale by others), and only at their home or community events (home, farm stand, yard sale, flea market, farmers market, fairs, festivals, etc.), and only honey harvested in TX and without any other “food” ingredient diluted in or added to. And with a label that includes the beekeeper’s name, his/her address (does not have to be bee yard location – for repeat sales, consider adding phone, cell more private, or email address), and two honey weights (not volume) being avoirdupois and metric explained below, and include (can be second label on container lower back or bottom): “Bottled in a facility not inspected by TXDSHS” (see example below for a nice variation!). The front and back labels can be sized for a honey bear – for a bear with rear panel area, too, and thus also used for larger containers (i.e., one size printing), and the two weight designations left blank to be filled in by pen on various sized containers. Exact honey weights can be found at http://convert-to.com/246/honey-amounts-converter.html or for more detail https://www.aqua-calc.com/calculate/food-volume-to-weight/substance/honey - with common gram weights of Qt = 1360 g, Pt = 680 g, 12 oz. bear = 340.2 g, 1 lb = 453.6 g, 1.5 lb = 680.4 g, 2 lb = 907.2 g. (Also convert qt, pt, lbs to oz, or mark in lbs)

TIP: Some honey competition requirements can be guidelines for a superior honey product and increased sales (offering a sample tasting really helps too!): settle filtered extracted honey, skim top to avoid “inclusions,” fill container at an angle to avoid bubbles, fill to “bottom of cap” level (no daylight showing when capped), clean outside of container and dry with lint-free cloth, affix straight label, and place cardboard strips between plastic containers in transport box to avoid scratching.

TIP: No need to include year of extraction anywhere on the label as 1) honey does not deteriorate and can be re-liquefied for years, 2) buyers are critical of ‘old’ and discolored produce and hesitant to purchase, 3) takes up room on the label and forces other important info to be smaller, and 4) expensive printed labels can be used in subsequent years if no year date.

Example of front and rear labels for SP selling in Texas (enhance with floral and bee designs!):

Good luck with your golden harvest!