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A Guide to Profitable Beekeeping for Beginners

This article A Guide to Profitable Beekeeping Farming Business Beekeeping farming business is one of the most profitable businesses in the world. Beekeeping is also known as Apiculture. Beekeeping is the process of raising bees in order to collect  honey or any other products like propolis, beeswax, pollen propolis and royal jelly.

Asides getting honey  from bees, numerous products can be extracted from bees which serves as raw materials used by giant  companies to produce major products. Products include bees wax, propolis, etc. 

The first thing that comes to the mind of most people when beekeeping farming is mentioned is the  thought of bee stings. If you are faced with the same situation, you fears are rightly justified. This is  because people have been stung to death by bees on several occasions. However, this does not mean  that everything about beekeeping farming is negative, as many have built thriving honey business, employing  extra hands in the process. 

BENEFITS OF BEEKEEPING TO HUMAN. 

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Picture Credit: Pass the Honey

Honey has several health benefits which makes it highly sought after among Nigerians. Some health  benefits of honey include being a natural cough syrup, minimizes gastrointestinal disorders such as  ulcers, helps in healing burns and wounds as well as the prevention of cancers and heart diseases among  others. The best part of honey farming is that you benefit both economically as well as health wise throughout the consumption of your products. Other products you get from bees are: 

  • Wax: It is used for furniture polish, candles and crayons. 
  • Pollen: It is used for food, cosmetics, preparation of medicine and hand pollination.
  • Propolis: It is used for repairs of the honeycombs. 
  • Venom: It is used for preparing medicine
  • Royal jelly is used as food for queen bees. 

Honey adds good nutrition to human diets as it is a source of carbohydrate food, minerals, and vitamins. Honey keeps you mentally alert and physically strong. 

It will improve your income as you process it on the farm to add more value to the raw product. It is a component of many traditional and orthodox medicines. 

It helps to conserve the ecosystem and increases production of particular farm crops by pollination 

Steps involved in starting a beekeeping farming. 

Sourcing for capital for Beekeeping farming

In this business, minimal cost is involved in the production of  honey. It requires small startup capital. You can source the equipment and all the inputs you require for  the business locally. Moreover, you do not need to look after the bees, as all they need is a place they  can get nectar, pollen and water also a hive to live in.

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As a matter of fact, most of your start-up costs will  go into the construction of boxes where the bees will build their hive. After hiring the services of a  carpenter to build one for you, cost such boxes will last for a long time.

Buying protective gear is another  important requirement for the business. Protective gear will protect you from stings. Its is a well known  fact that bees are more aggressive when the beehive is heavy (loaded with honey). For backup, you may also need a smoke sprayer or dispenser.

This significantly reduces the aggression of the bees as their  defense system is significantly disabled. By masking the alarm pheromones released by the bees,  especially those on guard, you can easily perform your honey inspection with minimal resistance. 

Suitable location for the apiary

Unlike other forms of agriculture, owning a land isn’t a necessary  requirement for bee keeping. Bee farming is a business that does not require that you own land as you  can do the business on wastelands. You do not need to feed bees as they scavenge on nectar and pollen.  Some of the farm crops they pollinate also provide nectar for the bees. They pollinate farm crops such as  cashew, pawpaw, coconut, oil palm, citrus, sunflowers, sisal, and clover.

You can lease a land; or  alternatively, partner with fruit farmers who have citrus and mango trees in their farmlands. In turn,  your bees will help pollinate the fruit trees, and of course, increase the products of the farmers, thereby  increasing their revenue stream. Your apiary must be in best conditions so can you can have a good  return on investment. For the best results, the apiary should never be sited in a noisy or crowded place. Also, swampy areas or places where insecticides are applied should be avoided. 

Sorting out for the best specie for beekeeping farming

There are Several kinds of bees’ species do not live in colonies. We use  APIS MELLIFERA, which lives in colonies for honey production all over the world. In tropical regions, you  have other bees such as MELIPONA and TRIGONA. In a bee colony, you have two females a queen and bee workers, then a male known as drone.

Queen bees lay 2,500 to 3,000 eggs per day in the first year  of their lives. Drones mate with the queen while workers feed the queen, collect nectar and pollen, look  after the eggs, repair, clean the comb, control temperature, and guard the entrance of the hive. 

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Starting a Beekeeping colony

In starting a beekeeping colony, there are three ways to go about it. These includes:

  1. Acquiring the colony from a hive  
  2. Obtaining a swarm of bees 
  3. Getting a nucleus. 

Acquiring the beekeeping colony from a hive is the easiest to do as it will cost you a little but it is easy and quick. Just  approach beekeepers, strike a bargain with them, then pay for the bees, and collect them. 

Obtaining a swarm of bees is the cheapest method of it all. Honeybees live in colonies and are untamed  but you can bait them into hives by rubbing Beeswax on several hives or boxes scattered in a suitable  place the bee swarm would like to form a colony; such as a place with water, plenty flowering plants and  excellent weather. 

Getting a nucleus involves beginning a new colony from scratch. You can do it by obtaining a queen,  drone, and worker bees in a hive. You feed the bees with sugar cane and water temporarily. Next,  provide enough hives dabbed with Beeswax and put them in an environment conducive for bee swarms  as bait to make them enter the hives. 

THE HIVE FOR BEEKEEPING FARMING

Hive is a box for keeping the bees. You can make them from different materials. The hives enables the  bees to build their nests so that you can manage them easily. It aids easy movement for the bees.

All the bees want is a place large enough for the whole colony, its stores, and protection from the  weather and attackers. 

There are three categories of Hive for beekeeping, they are: 

Fixed comb hives made from clay, wall, log, bark, etc. 

Movable comb hives have many styles. A popular one is Top-Bar hives. 

Movable frame hives such as Langtroth and Dadant, etc. 

Make sure you put the hives near source of water and in shades of green leafy trees to prevent hot  temperature. You may also paint the hives in white color to reflect light rather than absorb it to keep the  hives cool. Erect artificial shades where there are no green trees around to control the temperature  inside the hives. 

Control of disease in Beekeeping farming

Honeybees also suffer from diseases and parasites. In sub Saharan Africa due to the  practice of traditional method of bee production, and movement of colonies to new nesting sites,  diseases do not take root as they do when colonies are stationary. However, in case you detect disease  in a hive, in the early days in the business as you tackle how to start beekeeping in Nigeria, treat the  infected hives separately from the healthy hives so that the others are not infected. 

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Harvesting

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Picture Credit: ianca Ackermann

Depending on how much they are, the average time it takes before harvest is 6 weeks.  However it is necessary that you carry out inspection visits. This shouldn’t be too often as you may end up interrupting honey production. If you have a colony of bees, which you have just started fresh, allow  ten to twelve months for the honey to mature before you start harvesting. Thereafter, when the colony  is fully established, you can harvest at seven to eight months interval. 

You harvest honey at the end of the flowering season. You pick the extreme combs that contain ripe  honey with an envelope of thin layer of white beeswax. As you harvest mature honey, make sure you  leave combs containing pollen or developing bees. For beekeepers using the Top Bar beehives, you do  

not need to use costly extractor. You just crush and strain the honeycombs to extract the honey through  muslin or other types of filter to separate the honey from the beeswax. You can also cut the  honeycombs into pieces and sell them fresh like that.

For those involved in beekeeping farming using the frame hives, you can  obtain honey from the frame hives, by spinning the frames in a motorized circular extractor or a hand  crank extractor. After separating honey from the beeswax combs, melt the beeswax over water into a  block and store until you gather enough for sale. It does not spoil with time. Always return empty combs  to the hives for bees to produce more honey. The harvesting method and the equipment for processing  is dependent on the size of the farm, quantity of honey to be processed and the market you wish to sell  it.

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I am Israel Otoijamun, the Founder of Ofarms.ng. I am a blogger, web and graphics designer, brand manager, product manager and farmer. I have interests in crypto currency, technology, business and agriculture.

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Israel Otoijamun

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