RWD Honeybees: sweeter than honey
Megan11 Jul, 2023
What do you get when you combine purpose with passion? For Reece Davies, the answer is a buzzing business named RWD Honeybees.
With some help and mentorship, the honey enthusiast founded RWD Honeybees in 2018, and it’s been growing rapidly ever since.
The small family-run beekeeping business aims to provide high-quality, affordable honey to their community while following sustainable beekeeping practices to ensure the continued welfare of the endangered honeybee species.
We caught up with Reece to learn how he turned his passion for beekeeping into a flourishing business.
The gift that keeps on giving
When Reece Davies received a protective beekeeping suit as a gift from his father for completing matric, he had no idea it would change the trajectory of his life. Initially disappointed in the gift, it took only five minutes in the suit to change his mind. “I was completely hooked. It is difficult to describe in words, but any beekeeper will tell you that there truly is something magical about bees. Once they hook you in, there is just no going back.”
After assisting his grandfather with his hives in Pretoria, Reece decided to open his own business in Cape Town. He bought his first hive and the necessary tools from a local beekeeping equipment supplier. With the help of some mentorship from an experienced beekeeper, and a few failed attempts later, Reece managed to catch his first colony, which he named Alpha.
“My dad was with me on this day and was quite intrigued by the process,” Reece explains. “Thus, for his birthday in May, we bought him a bee suit, and I started teaching him what I had learnt as we cared for our very first colony. Needless to say, he too was hooked and agreed to invest in the operation on a 2:1 basis.”
From that first colony, RWD Honeybees quickly developed into a family-run beekeeping business with 20-30 hives.
As sweet as honey
As a small family-run business, RWD Honeybees can build intimate connections with its customers. “We know all of our customers by name and are very flexible in tailoring our products to suit our customer’s needs,” says Reece. Along with personalised communication, RWD Honeybees rewards customer loyalty with free products and celebrates all their milestones, no matter how small.
RWD Honeybees wants to ensure that their community and others nearby always have access to affordable quality honey. It’s one of the reasons why they keep their price low. They’re also willing to negotiate prices if customers cannot afford it.
“Our whole operation is 100% honeybee-oriented and not at all about making money,” explains Reece. “Everything we do is to promote beekeeping as a sustainable means of helping our endangered honeybees. We would rather not make money and still be able to make a difference by helping this beautiful keystone species.”
All profits are sown back into the business and used to purchase equipment to run the business successfully. “We are very fortunate to be running this business in a hobbyist capacity and thus not reliant on it for income,” says Reece. “This is why we can operate with this philosophy.”
For the love of bees and honey
Integrity, innovation, accountability and customer commitment are some of the values driving the RWD Honeybees brand. The family-run business prides itself on following due process to produce honey to ensure its clients consistently receive high-quality honey in its healthiest form.
The business only harvests completely ripe honey, which is then cold spun out of the frames into buckets. They also follow strict sanitary processes when bottling, which includes having clean, dust-free work surfaces and wearing hair nets. “This enables us to confidently know that each jar handed over to our customers is untouched by human hands and carefully handled in its journey from hive to jar,” explains Reece.
RWD Honeybees not only wants to ensure their processes benefit their customers but that they protect the bees in their hives. “We follow responsible beekeeping practices,” says Reece. This includes providing adequate space and protection from other animals, such as honey badgers, as well as minimising stress during hive inspections and honey harvesting by being quick, efficient, and careful. We work only in the correct weather and temperatures.”
The beekeeping business doesn’t deter their colonies from performing annual reproductive swarming, nor do they overharvest the honey produced. “We also try to raise awareness by educating others about the importance of bees and their role in pollination, which ultimately provides us with many types of food. We encourage others to take action and make bee-friendly choices in their own lives, from purchasing local, responsibly sourced honey to getting involved in beekeeping.
Support your local beekeeper
While RWD Honeybees prides itself on producing high-quality pure honey, they increasingly compete with businesses selling ‘fake honey’. This honey is made by mixing syrup with small amounts of genuine honey and marketing it as 100% pure.
“It is very common on the shelves of shops and sold for low prices, making it attractive to those none the wiser,” explains Reece. “Many beekeepers will attest that growing public understanding of differentiating between pure and fake honey is incredibly difficult. We often have to sell our honey at lower prices to compete with the thriving adulterated honey market.”
Along with competing with these commercial honey producers, local beekeepers are often plagued by large bouts of vandalism. These vandals destroy entire hives in an attempt to steal honey.
“We have experienced two occasions of vandalism, on occasion costing us over R50 000 in losses of equipment and honey, not taking into account the nine honeybee colonies that were senselessly killed in the process,” says Reece. “Every beekeeper has to be vigilant about where they keep their hives, how well hidden they are, and who knows about them.”
The bee’s knees
As RWD Honeybees established its business, it needed a service provider that would facilitate a smooth payment experience for its customers.
While they initially decided to use cash and EFTs to accept payments after their first harvest, these payment methods deterred many of their customers. Their customers didn’t always carry cash, and they found EFTs untrustworthy.
“It was my mom Deidre’ who initially suggested SnapScan,” says Reece. “My first thought was that there could be no way that a seemingly large establishment like SnapScan would offer anything to a tiny beekeeping business like mine with very seasonal income.”
“Upon further investigation, I was shocked by how easy it was to register with SnapScan and how willing they were to support me through the process. It didn’t matter that my business was small and offered very little to them by way of income; they helped me with everything I needed.”
Once RWD Honeybees established SnapScan as a payment offering, their sales took off, and they haven’t looked back. The family-run business uses a Perspex SnapCode and the SnapStore Pro card machine.
“My experience has only ever been a positive one. Where I identified potential areas for SnapScan to increase their offering to meet my needs, they have delivered.”
“When I have been stuck and needed help, they have sorted out my issues same-day with extremely friendly and helpful support staff. It has facilitated much growth in my business and played an instrumental role in helping us achieve our goals. It makes day-to-day running of sales easy because it just works.”
A hive of activity
It’s been five years since Reece put RWD Honeybees in motion. Now that they’re turning over regular harvests and sales with a loyal customer base, they’re looking to optimise other aspects of their business. This includes defining their brand, creating branded merchandise, increasing their social media presence and creating additional brand awareness by stocking more coffee shops and local establishments in the Helderberg region.
“We’re also looking to educate as many local people as possible about the importance of honeybees, how beekeeping is a sustainable way to help bees, the importance and benefits of consuming honey from one’s area, and supporting local,” says Reece.
Ready to add some sweetness to your day? Follow RWD Honeybees on Instagram to get a taste of their business, and message them to order your honey or honeycomb.
4 easy ways to have authentic interactions with your customers
Authentic interactions are crucial to building a solid rapport with customers.
6 factors you should consider when starting a business
Use these tips to turn your idea into an operating business.
Bangbang Vintage Market: crafting their path to success
Explore the store for some good old-fashioned fun.