The pandemic was the time where we saw different small businesses blooming up across the country. And during that time, we decided to write stories of these small businesses and about the dreamers behind their existence. In the year 2021, we approached one such venture, 'The Honey Company,' (old name) an organic, small-batch honey selling venture from Harur, Dharmapuri district of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India. With life taking over, and so many uncertanities snowballed on everyone's path, that particular conversation could not make it to the pages of A Bottle of Candies on time.
Doing no more disservice to the small business spirit of India, we are back here flipping through the unfinished story of The Honey Company, who by this time, have left their old hive and have now fashioned themselves as Bee Ka-Chow. This is the story written to us by Bhuvana, Co-Founder of this very sweet small business, in the month of July, 2021...
Hello, I am Bhuvana, mother of an 1.8 years young cutie pie Laksh (this was last July, cutie Laksh must be 2 years and few months now). My husband is Siranjeevi, and he is an IT professional. I myself was a Quality Assurance lead before I took up to nurture Bee Ka-Chow. We are based out of Harur, Dharmapuri district of Tamilnadu, India.
Beekachow is our small dream still budding and has a long way to go!
My husband has been my strength, who supported me in my decision to quit my corporate job as a QA Lead and take up Beekachow in my hands for full time. He was the one who designed our website, set a process for order dispatch. During those early days, he used to do all end-to-end work, from designing the website, to processing the orders, shipping it to people & even delivering to the end customers. I would be packing all the orders and keep them ready to dispatch. It was a learning for us to overcome the bottle breakage issue and set a process to ensure 100 % perfect delivery.
Having a dream is very important, but an understandable husband who tries to fulfil his wife’s dream is a blessing!
Bottling the Golden Nectar of the Forests
Honey is one of the best gift from nature when it comes to increasing our immunity.
In 2020, this knowledge took us in search of pure, unadultered, fresh-from-the-forest quality honey for our then 1-year-old kid. To our surprise, there were none. All the supermarket stocked honey were either 'like' honey or artificial sugar syrups! And the ones we got from the online shops were collected from bee farms. Now many people may not be aware, but honey taken from bee farms is not good for health as it is adultered by the use of pesticides in crops and impacted by other human activities.
That is when we decided to go back to our roots, and we asked our grandparents on how they used to get pure honey in their childhood.
Their knowledge helped us track down a family who are traditional honey collectors, and their primary livelihood was to go deep inside the thick forests, collect pure honey untouched by pesticides and chemicals, and sell it back in the village and towns. A dense forest is a natural habitat of rich flora, even used in Ayurvedic medicines, which grows naturally without any human intervention.
Imagine, the honey collected from these flowers and how overbrimmed they are with nutritions. But, the supply of this honey was naturally limited and not sufficient enough for large batch sale!
Also, this is was just after the first lockdown (July 2020), when they (the honey collectors) were facing financial challenges, as their business was impacted by the lockdown. We decided to do our bit and support their business. We started buying stocks from these honey collectors, while speaking to our friends back about the authentic honey and also started sending them the products. As expected, there was a rage of positive reviews and feedbacks. This gave us the confidence to start our small dream, “The Honey Company.” In the very start, we limited our selling only to Dharmapuri, Salem districts of Tamil Nadu and to some extent to our friends & colleagues. And we recieved enormous support so we decided to take it to the next step.
We formulated the idea of infusing organically grown, highly nutritious, fruits like fig, amla and nuts in pure wild honey. We created pages on social media, a website and we started getting orders. Our speciality is, we will make honey-based products only in small batches and hence it will be always soft & fresh when it reaches the customers.
Then we took another little step and registered our dream as a brand called “BEEKACHOW.“ We are now a registered trademark , FSSAI-certified, pan-India brand. The dream has just started!
Sweet but Bitter Truths About Honey in India
There are multiple brands in India for honey. Some of them even sell 1+1 kg for just 200 rupees. This is possible only if the honey is manufactured and not collected. Collection of honey is a tedious process, where 10-15 human effort is needed, they have to stay in forests for many fortnights to locate the bee hives. Some of the hives may yield only 100 grams of honey and some other may give 40 kgs also. So to collect 100 kg of honey, at least 5 workforce and a week of time is required.
Whereas in bee farms, if we keep a box in an agriculture field with a queen bee, honey bees will consider it as a hive and start collecting honey from nearby fields. A major disadvantage of this is pesticides and other chemicals that are used in these fields for high yield. Honey derived from such places will have an impact on our health as well. And even the bees are given antibiotics to produce more honey. But still, this is the most famous method for honey sellers to collect honey because of its ability to get about 100 kgs of honey in a single box without much effort and also it is most profitable.
Why we are different: We go to forests with a group of people to collect honey. We stay there for days. Our honey will be different in each batch. We can’t control the taste, colour, as it is completely nature’s choice. A dense forest will be full of natural and ayurvedic flowers. Honey collected from these flowers will be full of nutritions. Each forest will have unique seasonal flowers, and so the honey derived will also be different from each place. So you can’t compare batches of honey from different locations and forests. But one thing is guranteed - this honey will be completely different from the store-bought, farm-grown ones.
2020, Lockdowns and Digitisation
Yes, the lockdown indeed impact us. But we were able to manage as we took the business online. We quickly launched a website. And in our hometown, only one shipping partner was available. They supported us a lot. Special thanks to Kannan sir, owner of Dharmapuri professional couriers. They understood this is helping their business and also supporting the livelihood of many people. They were happy to see a startup coming from our small village.
It’s like when we start to help people, many people will start to help us!
Figs, Roses and Honey
We are now collecting around 100 kgs of honey every 3 months. And we are also getting a decent number of orders (this is 2021 July). With the honey collected, we also have learned how to make products like fig in honey, rose gulkhand & amla in honey.
Our signature product is Navthadhu Bhooshti (9 dry fruits in honey ) where we have used around 9 premium quality dry fruits and roasted them in pure goat milk ghee and infused in wild honey. This is a very rare combo and it needs a lot of expertise in making. Only a few people know how to make it and we are fortunate to be one among those few! It’s an ancient siddha secret for good health.
...to attain volume as a small brand in India is a big task
People will compare the cost of ours with the big brands. The truth is when the volume goes big the price will be less. But to attain volume as a small brand in India is a big task. We don’t have any budget for advertisements. We are now only because of the word of mouth from the customers who bought from us.
So the more we get the support from the patrons, the more we can help the business grow and also support the honey collecting community.
Our Instagram page: @beekachow_
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