A COMPLETE GUIDE TO MODERN BEEKEEPING BUSINESS QUESTIONS IN YOUR MIND
Anyone that wishes to start a business usually has many questions and fears in mind. In bee farming, questions such as who your customers are, where to site the farm, types of equipment to use, labour, training to attend, associations to join, when to harvest and where to buy the bees for starting the business will disturb your mind. All your questions are valid so let us answer them quickly.
IS THERE A MARKET FOR THE BUSINESS?
Bee farming is a profitable venture, which you can set up with less than N150,000.00, without additional costs thereafter. Why is this so? Well! The bees do not require daily care and you would not need labour until harvest and processing period.
Secondly, bees provide many products apart from the honey you use i n many ways. Other products you get from bees are wax (for use in furniture polish, candles and crayons) pollen (used for food, cosmetics, preparation of medicine and hand pollination), propolis (used for repairs of the honeycombs), venom (used for preparing medicine), royal jelly (which is food for queen bees). I guess that answers the question of whether it is valuable to people or not and could be sold.
REQUIREMENTS NEEDED TO START BEE FARMING IN NIGERIA
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 and a hive to live in.
They pollinate farm crops such as cashew, pawpaw, coconut, oil palm, citrus, sunflowers, sisal, and clover. 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.
WHY SHOULD YOU START BEE FARMING?
There are many important reasons why you should find out how to start a bee farming business in Nigeria. Some of the reasons are: 1. Honey adds good nutrition to human diets as it is a source of carbohydrate food, minerals, and vitamins. 2. Honey keeps you mentally alert and physically strong. 3. It will improve your income as you process it on the farm to add more value to the raw product. 4. It is a component of many traditional and orthodox medicines. 5. It helps to conserve the ecosystem and increases production of particular farm crops by pollination.
HOW PROFITABLE IS BEE FARMING BUSINESS IN NIGERIA
Let us assume you invested money to start 10 colonies and these colonies produce 10 liters of honey at harvest. Assume investment of N10, 000 per colony x 10 colonies = N100, 000 One Colony produces 10 liters of honey per harvest Retail price in the market is N1, 500 per liter Sales of 10 liters of honey from one colony will be 10 x N1, 500 = N15, 000 Therefore sales for 10 colonies at N15, 000 per colony x 10 colonies = N150, 000.
Less c o s t of sales i.e. N150,000 – N100,000 = Gross profit of N50,000 Gross profit less other expense of N10, 000 i.e. 50,000 – 10,000 = N40, 000 Net profit is N40, 000 or 40% Return on investment.
COST OF STARTING BEE FARMING IN NIGERIA
As you consider how to start a bee farming business in Nigeria, low starting cost may be a prime motivator for you. We can split beekeeping costs into key and minor ones. The key costs to consider are as follows: A place to process the honey you harvest The hives for keeping the honey Tables and chairs Honey extractor and separator. This equipment is for large-scale farmers. A small-scale farmer can use a sieve.
Other minor costs to consider include:
GETTING PROTECTIVE CLOTHING LOCALLY
Smoker – You can fabricate one locally Trays and tools like hive tools.
HOW TO START YOUR OWN BEE FARMING COLONY
Now that you are learning the secrets of how to start a beekeeping business in Nigeria, we have got to an interesting part – how to start your own colony. There are three ways to start your colony. They are; acquire a colony from a hive, obtain a swarm, and get a nucleus. Of the three methods, the easiest to do is to acquire a colony from a hive. 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. The second method is starting a nucleus, which 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 cheapest method is to capture swarms of bees.
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.
BEES SEASONAL CYCLE
All agricultural businesses have seasonal cycles, which are easier to track in temperate regions than in tropical regions. As you learn how to start beekeeping in Nigeria, getting the seasonal cycles right may be a bit tricky but after some time you will understand it. In temperate regions, the colony cycle is one for each year but in tropical and sub-tropical regions, it varies as more than one colony cycle can occur within a yearly cycle. The colony circle has three parts such as build up, honey flow and dearth.
Make sure you manage each seasonal cycle well as each part has specific things you should do to maintain the hives in order to get the best produce from the bees.
WHAT IS A HIVE?
A hive is a box for keeping bees. You can make them from different materials. The hives enable 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 HIVES
Fixed comb hives made from clay, wall, log, bark. Movable comb hives have many styles. A popular one is Top-Bar hives. Movable frame hives such as Langstroth and Dadant. Make sure you put the hives near the 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.
WHERE TO SITE YOUR BEE HIVES
Another dilemma people wishing to start beekeeping in Nigeria face, is where to cite the hives. It is not complicated, just follow this guide and pick a good site for the beehives. Make sure there are plenty of flowering plants and trees in the area. Make sure the water source is close to the hives. Make sure there are no crops being sprayed with pesticides nearby.
Make sure hives are protected from strong winds. Protect hives from strong sunlight by shades of trees or artificial shades. Put hives in places far from human beings so they are not stung by bees. Ensure hives are secure from thieves.
Ensure there is no water dripping from tree branches onto the hives below Start with ten colonies and increase it later if the area can sustain more colonies Gestation period 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 a seven to eight months interval.
HOW TO HARVEST HONEYCOMBS AND PROCESSING
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 a 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 beekeepers 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.
You will start on a good note if you think of quality from the beginning during the research of how to start bee farming in Nigeria. When you eventually start the business, make quality top priority if you wish to have a profitable business.
Make sure you follow standards such as those set by Codex Alimentarius. Adhering to quality standards entails doing the following: You should not adulterate honey by feeding bees sugarcane.
Ensure honey feeds on pure nectar and pollen. You should not add food additives to honey. Honey should not have any flavor. Honey should not have any aroma. It should have no taint from any foreign matter during processing and storage. Honey should not ferment.
Honey should not foam. Species of bees 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 a 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. DISEASE AND PARASITES IN BEE FARMS Honeybees also suffer from diseases and parasites.
In sub Saharan Africa due to the practice of traditional methods 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.
JOIN ASSOCIATION OF BEEKEEPERS
Join the beekeepers association of Nigeria in your locality to help you gain access to training resources and government loan facilities. Joining them will make your product more marketable and enable you to get a good price.
WHERE TO SELL YOUR HONEY
When you start any business, you overlook selling. This should not be the case as you grapple with many aspects of how to start beekeeping in Nigeria. Reach out to members of the beekeepers association to guide you. There are wholesale buyers of the produce and retail buyers scattered all over the country. Please note that the market can absorb any volume you produce in the country. So do not sell your honey cheaply because you lack selling experience in the business.
There is no doubt, how to start beekeeping in Nigeria may have looked daunting initially, but thanks to the information we have shared here, you can now do the business with more certainty. It is a lucrative business so go ahead and launch yours immediately.