Oparah Adaugo Chioma
This article will expose you to how to make money from our wonderful social insects, bees. And before I proceed, I will like you to have some background knowledge of bees. Bees are social insects that live in a colony, consisting of a queen, drones and workers. There are different kinds of bees but we are looking at the honey bees (Apis mellifera). They are from the family of insects called Apidae.
Apiculture, commonly known as beekeeping or bee farming, is a branch of agriculture involving the management of honey bees in a human-made enclosure called Hive. Bee farming is a very lucrative business with no negative environmental impact. Apart from honey which is a major product gotten from it, there are other important products too like beeswax, bee pollen and others. A beehive can also be kept in order to pollinate crops and produce bees for sale to other beekeepers. Due to the fear associated with bees, not too many people consider the prospects in the business. Anybody can venture into the business, so long as the requirements are met.
Requirements for Starting Apiculture Business
1. Interest- As an individual or entrepreneur, you need to have interest and zeal for the business. When you’re passionate about a business, excelling is a lot easier.
2. Knowledge- It is advisable to have basic knowledge about the business and what it entails. This can be achieved through attending seminars, training and reading articles such as this.
3. Site for the Apiary (Bee Farm)- This is a very important requirement. The success of beekeeping depends on the site. It must be a cool, calm and conducive environment with adequate shade.
4. Equipment- Like any other agricultural enterprise, there are different types of equipment necessary for beekeeping, harvesting and processing. They include beehives, protective wears ( bee suit with veil, boots, gloves), smoker, uncapping knife, honey press and others. There are two major types of the hive: the Langstroth hive and Kenya top bar hive. The Langstroth has a greater advantage over the Kenya topbar because it has more than one chamber. In order words, a bee farmer tends to get more produce from it.
5. Bees- Depending on your choice, you can either get bees to colonize a hive after setup, through a natural means by using an attractant or through the purchase of a bee colony from another apiary.
How to Make Money from Bees
Beekeeping business has a lot of potentials if it is done right. Apart from the products derived from beekeeping, bees are also important insects that aid in the pollination of plants. Money can be made from the following beehive products.
1. Honey- This is the number one product of bees. Honey is formed when nectar and pollen bees feed on plants, is converted into a storable form. Honey is the most popular natural sweetener in the world. Due to its versatile use, the demand for it is usually high. In medicine, honey is used as a sweetening agent in children’s drug. It is also used in the treatment of cough, sore throat, burns and so on. Honey is also used in cosmetics and skin care industries.
2. Beeswax- This is another high revenue-generating product. It is derived from further processing of honeycomb. A lot of people who do not know the economic benefits discard it after honey processing. Unbelievably, beeswax has wider use than honey. It is largely used in cosmetic industries for producing lip balms, creams, moisturizers, etc. It is also used in candle production. The food industry is not left out as they use it as an additive.
3. Propolis- This is a brown sticky substance used by bees to seal up the open part of the hive. It is also called bee glue. It has antiseptic properties and greatly used in pharmaceutical industries. It is also used in the medical field to treat viral diseases, inflammation, ulcer and lots more.
4. Bee Venom- As scary as it sounds, bee venom which is responsible for the painful stings from bees is used in medicine for the treatment of some ailments such as rheumatism and arthritis. This is due to the anti-inflammatory effect.
Other revenue-generating products of bees include bee pollen, royal jelly.
Why you should Consider Apiculture
1. There is a ready market for the products.
2. It is easy to start. You can start a small scale bee farm with 5 hives.
3. Unlike some agribusiness, you do not have to spend money on feeding the bees. They fend for themselves.
4. Harvesting can be done 2-3 times a year depending on flowering periods of bee plants and from each harvest, a maximum of 10 -12 (75cl) bottle can be gotten from one Langstroth hive. The amount of money you make from Apiculture business depends on the number of hives you have.
Having been exposed to the world of bees, I realised that beekeeping as an enterprise is still largely unexploited in Nigeria. The country meets some of her domestic needs for honey mostly by importing from producing countries. I make bold to state that beekeeping as a profitable venture, should be encouraged by the government and other organizations by training and empowering farm families, especially our women and youth.
Oparah Chioma is a writer, an apiculturist and a fashion designer. Follow her on Facebook @Oparah Adaugo Chioma and Twitter @Omaslimzy.