MyApiary: Beekeeping Managed Well
ADVERTORIAL: MyApiary PROFILING APIARIST’S ADVOCATE’S SUPPORTERS
There is considerable scope for most beekeeping businesses to not only reduce costs through more effective management, but increase revenue and profit by better targeting of resources, say the team behind MyApiary. The hive management service providers have been in business since 2017 and in that time have developed a suite of software tools to streamline commercial beekeeping management, from hive to drum. There are so many more businesses they could be helping though, so MyApiary are striving to reach those beekeepers, grow their businesses and build a stronger apiculture industry, they explain.
"We're not telling beekeepers how to beekeep,” Henry Taylor makes clear. He, as MyApiary’s customer success representative, makes up one half of the company’s full-time staff, along with founder and general manager Darren Bainbridge.
Understanding the concept of “core competencies” is at the heart of MyApiary’s role and tending client’s hives is not one. However, they have found a well-established role within the industry in advancing beekeeping operations through much improved record keeping and data analysis.
“We are not telling them how to tend to their hives. All we're doing is laying out a platform that they can use to record what they're doing. Or we are adapting the platform tool in a way where they can record what they want to record. They can record just the basics, or they can actually customise it to record a lot more, and get a whole bunch more value out of the platform," Taylor explains.
Every beekeeping business is different and so – while MyApiary have well-refined software packages covering everything from “hive to honey drum”, such as apiary status, site mapping, task and job assignment to staff, plus an extensive extraction shed system – determining the right package and even creating bespoke tools for each client is an essential part of their service.
“When we launched in 2017 our service offerings were a lot more basic,” Bainbridge says.
“Over those five years, we have continuously developed and improved though. The more customers we have on board, the more we can put into the platform. Now we are at the point where we are focusing on how we can intelligently interpret data.”
The interpretation of that data is a key area in which a streamlined management programme can reduce costs. Where a manger or business owner might previously spend hours assessing information before turning it into a meaningful report or series of actions, MyApiary’s various programmes can do it immediately and accurately.
“That then means being able to be more proactive, getting things done on time and knowing where they are at in real time,” Bainbridge says.
While the savings at a management level are prominent among MyApiary clients, it’s the same at an individual beekeeper level, aided by the likes of their site mapping, plus apiary or hive management dashboards.
"When you look at putting three people in the vehicle and sending them off, that's a big expense,” Bainbridge explains.
“So, we are helping make sure those guys are getting the right tasks done and going to the right place. If they go in the wrong place, then you have basically wasted $1,000 and that's what MyApiary costs for the year."
MyApiary also gives beekeepers, especially team leaders, a greater ability to manage their hives and key tasks. This reduces the need for regular and potentially lengthy team meetings.
“They have their own plan and the way they go do it, because the management programme helps provide ownership over their jobs. We see productivity increase from there."
The complexity of New Zealand’s honey industry, with its different grades of manuka honey, means many businesses can benefit from better understanding where the best returns can come from. Often, this is not simple to see though. So, for many clients the most value in MyApiary comes from identifying the right opportunities to pursue, or the sites that should be left behind.
“It is about really evaluating where you're making money in the business,” Bainbridge says.
“What regions are performing and what's not? Or perhaps down to what apiaries. It’s not just looking at yield, but quality of honey. What value are you getting, versus the costs of having staff sites in those areas? We have seen one of our clients pull their hives completely out of a region because their analysis from our data was able to help them see it was not worthwhile for them.”
It’s not just honey performance either, MyApiary is tracking hive health and queen performance for clients too, by creating key performance indicators and then helping clients collect data and interpret it.
"Creating value by focusing on the areas that may make you money is where MyApairy can pay for itself 100-fold,” the GM and founder says.
“A lot of people are trying to be a better beekeeper and have better queen genetics or the likes, which might yield you 1 - 3 percent improvement, but you could go get a 20% improvement in your bottom line by focusing on different honey crop or not, or doing certain pollination. It has a far bigger impact than the incremental improvement of being a better beekeeper.”
Who’s it For
While MyApiary’s services are undoubtably for commercial beekeepers (with pricing plans based on how many tablets are registered) it is not just the big guys who can benefit. An increasing number of smaller operators are signing up. Moving these small operators to a point where the boss can step away from the day-to-day, knowing effective management plans are in place, is a goal MyApiary can help achieve.
"If you're having to transcribe everything from a whiteboard onto an Excel sheet, or gather information for people constantly, you can't just step away,” Taylor says,
“If information is recorded on their tablets and MyApiary is used correctly, then the staff can carry on and the owner or boss could check in on the business from anywhere.”
Because of that improved management, MyApiary is undoubtably giving business owners more time and more resources to help achieve their goals.
"We want to see people have strong, sustainable family businesses that are making them a lot of money,” Bainbridge says of the service he founded.
“It's about giving beekeepers a secure future. We want to see these multi-generation businesses survive and we will continue to help with that, from management systems and appropriate consultancy.