Beekeeping is a business opportunity with social, economic, and ecological benefits that requires minimal time, labour, and resource.
For its immense relevance to human health and growth, rearing of bees and production of honey has become thriving business both in Nigeria and abroad.
Apiculture, the study and keeping of bees, in some parts of the world, often begins as a hobby which can later be expanded into a big business.
The most commonly found honeybee in Nigeria is the Apis mellifera adansonii which lives in the colonies throughout the year. Other species of honeybees include Apis dorsata, labonoser, mellifere, larnica and mellifera Linquistica.
The two products of commercial volume made by the bees are bee wax and honey. The bees use the wax for building their combs and it is one of the most remarkable phenomenons in the organisation of the honey bee. Honey bee venom, bee pollen, raw honey, royal jelly and propolis are the products generally considered to have medicinal effects.
Because of its importance to the people, honey has received priority attention from entrepreneurs. Generally, this is because of its profitability, it is a viable complementary activity for investors requires very little investment and produces quick returns.
Although, there has been increase in local production of honey in Nigeria, the demand for honey still far exceeds the supply.
Thus, irrespective of this high production of honey to meet with the increasing demand, they hardly produce enough to meet with the seeming quest for honey within and outside Nigeria. It is being given a priority attention because of its position in food value, medicinal value, industrial use and income generation.
A beekeeping enterprise can provide a good platform for marketable honey. The honey market at present is very strong, especially for locally produced honey and specialty honey.
Production of honey is a business that is associated with risks owning to the nature of bees. Honey is good for the body, it helps the body to grow in good health and good for mental alertness; in other words, it helps the brain to function well, and it’s also good for freshness of skin.
In honey production, the first thing is determining an environment or a location that bees are not far from. This is because bees are not everywhere. After this is determined, one can get some rectangular boxes built for this purpose. Not just any box, because only boxes that are made for this purpose can work,” after getting the number of boxes thing is baiting the boxes with a view to attracting bees, bees don’t just come into these boxes, there are some things that are mixed together as bait, serving as attraction measure.
Most of the times make use of honey wax got from honey comb. There are other things that can also the used as bait.
There is particular specie of banana that is used as bait in attracting bees to the boxes as the boxes are placed in different strategic locations. Experience needed for this business is between three and six months, which, incidentally, is the number of months needed to rear bees and get honey.
An intending honey production entrepreneurs can start with any amount depending on their financial capacity after getting a good location for the bee, you need to get the rectangular boxes made for the purpose of the business.
The number of boxes you can start with depends on the available capital.
“One does not have to be extremely rich for one to start the business, but higher the capital the better.
Ideally, the location for bee rearing should be away from dwelling places, and some shade should be provided for the boxes, especially during sunny period.
A source of water, such as dripping hose, should also be located nearby. One should also avoid locations near large rivers, highways, public areas, or on hilltops. Locations near cultivated crops are potentially in danger of exposure from insecticides.
Also, obtaining the cooperation of pesticide applicator will be essential to avoid bee losses.
How to get bees
Bees can be captured from a swarm, obtained from an established beekeeper, or purchased from a commercial bee supply company, you can get a location where bees can be found, you need to take an environmental survey. This will help you not to waste time in waiting for bees where there are no bees.
A survey has to be carried out on the intending location to be sure there are bees around the area or not,
A beekeeper will need to regularly check on the boxes to examine the condition of the brood, check food stores, look for signs of disease and pests, and to perform various maintenance necessary for the hygiene of the honey.
Seasonally, the queen should be replaced. While some inspections can be brief, it is important that the boxes be examined in a timely manner throughout the rearing period.
The major challenge is the risk involved vis-a-vis the stinging nature of the bee.
Innocent passers-by can be attacked by these bees. Another challenge is the possibility of the bee farm to be burnt by fire by those engaged in bush burning.
“Since the bee farm is most times located in the bush, the bee farmer might incur the loss of his boxes with the honey if fire is thrown into the location of the farm.
There are some precautions that must be taken while running the business; when going to visit the bee farm, the beekeeper should not go in a dress with multi-colour. Multi-colour dresses naturally attract the rage of the bee
Honey Farm Essentials
If you have decided to pursue the project, be sure you have the farm, vehicles and the equipment needed to start the business.
For a small farm, you would need bees with queen, brood chamber, honey containers, honey boxes, attire (hat, veil, and overalls), hive tool, scratcher for unsealing the honey, manual or motorized extractor, and freezer for storing honey.
Alternatively, you can operate a large honey farm by buying honey from small farmers and distributing it to schools, restaurants, households, pharmacies and hotels under your own label.
Usually, small farmers do not alot time and energy on marketing their produce. As a bigger outfit, with perhaps between 10 and 20 employees, you can do extensive marketing.
The profitability of the business, honey production business is a very lucrative one.
After six months of rearing the bees, the production of the honey, and the packaging, one can make millions depending on the number of boxes used for the business after the deduction of the overhead cost, what will be left can make one smile because of the demand for both domestic and industrial use.
Good honey is like gold as far as your honey is good or what they call original your stream of income will be endless.