business

Doctor's honey makes money for Tenn. hospital

An internist finds beekeeping is a sweet hobby that fits well in a busy schedule.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted May 31, 2010

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Making sidelines pay

Business Pitch

Doctors who branched out beyond running their practice tell why they did it, how they did it, and what you should know before you do it.
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Name: Jim Jirjis, MD

Specialty: Internal medicine

Location: Nashville, Tenn.

Company: Dr. Jirjis' Pure and Natural Tennessee Honey (link).

Annual revenue: Dr. Jirjis didn't reveal those figures. But he said he sells about 500 eight-ounce jars annually at $7.33 each. A portion of the profits are donated to Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

Dr. Jirjis is Vanderbilt's chief of medical information and director of adult primary care.

Why he started the business: Dr. Jirjis started beekeeping a few years ago because some friends of his owned hives. It not only looked interesting, but it also was something that he could squeeze into his time-crunched schedule.

"People can get started beekeeping for only a couple hundred bucks for the equipment and hives," Dr. Jirjis said.

"And it's a great hobby for busy people. If you buy a horse or a dog, you need to feed and water them every day. With bees all you do is create the environment. They go out and find their own water and food.

"You can ignore them for a month and come back and have all this honey."

He created a label for the finished product, featuring a picture of him with a bee on his nose, and got his two children involved in processing and packaging.

The honey is available through Dr. Jirjis honey website. He is also marketing to companies that can buy jars in large lots to pass out as gifts to employees or clients.

Why he keeps practicing: "I absolutely love my job, but I also like to expand my interests."

Words of wisdom: "Time is the biggest problem for a physician. You need to find a business that does not require a lot of time."

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