5 Steps to Successful Honey Bee Farming in Nigeria
Beekeeping or apiculture is the process of raising bees in order to collect honey or any other products like propolis, beeswax, pollen propolis, and royal jelly from the bees – and this can be done at both subsistent and commercial levels.
Honey is the most popular natural sweetener in the world and global trade in bee products is worth millions of dollars every year. Due to its diverse use, the worldwide consumption of honey is so huge, its supply barely matches its demands. According to bee expert, Hazel Thomas, “Honey beekeeping is a great hobby for people. It’s rewarding, interesting, and not very expensive. It’s of good value and very economical. After you’ve invested, then you’ve got your kit and you’re good to go. You can leave the hives alone for two to three weeks at a time without worrying about them needing attention.”
The benefits of honey are many, starting with the fact that it is an excellent natural sweetener full of nutrients including niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. Also, it doesn’t spoil and can be used for a variety of health benefits, such as soothing coughs, boosting memory, treating wounds, potentially preventing low white blood cell count caused by chemotherapy, relieving seasonal allergies, killing antibiotic-resistant bacteria, providing fuel for the body, and resolving scalp problems and dandruff. Wax, a product of bees, can be utilized to make candles, cosmetics, creams, lipstick, and lip balm.
The first thing that comes to the mind of most people when honey bee farming is mentioned is the thought of bee stings. In fact, there are cases in which people have been stung to death by bees on several occasions. However, this does not mean that everything about bee farming is negative, as many have built a thriving honey business, employing extra hands in the process.
Beekeeping as an agroforestry practice has not been given much attention in Nigeria. There is an increasing demand for honey in Nigeria and the world at large, but the business of apiculture is still relatively very low. This is saddening because apiculture is one of the most lucrative businesses that have no negative impact on the environment. Improving honey production through beekeeping will be a sure way to add market value to the Nigerian economy – and you can be part of that process.
How to start Bee Farming
To start a honey bee farm, you must have an area of land that is far removed from the residential area, meaning this type of farming cannot be done anywhere close to where humans live. This is to minimize sting incidences. Your beehive boxes must be built in such a way that allows for easy harvesting of honey. A skilled and experienced carpenter can help with this. This is by all means very important and cannot be overemphasized.
Owning land isn’t a necessary requirement for beekeeping. 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 as well. This makes life very easy for you if you do not personally venture into fruits farming of any kind. Before I say too much, let me take you along as we look at some basic steps to successful honey bee farming in Nigeria.
Steps to successful honey bee farming in Nigeria
- Get trained
This point on getting trained cannot be overemphasized. It is a major determinant between succeeding and failing – in most cases. Honey bees are downright fascinating creatures, and there’s a lot to learn about them and their colonies. You might picture a beehive as little more than a welter of stinging insects, but honey bees exist in a complex and structured society. As you delve deeper into your beekeeping journey, you’ll learn more about the life of honey bees: how they’re raised, how the hive functions, how they make honey, and so much more. From the ways worker bees dance to communicate with each other to the expertise a queen uses to lay hundreds of eggs a day, there’s no end to the fun facts you can learn about your bees. And the more you learn, the more profitable the business becomes. Before starting beekeeping in Nigeria, you have to seek knowledge from experts and attend its training. You might work as an apprentice in a reputable bee farm or go for a practical training
- Get a business plan
After gaining knowledge, the next step is to draw up an apiary business plan which would serve as your guide on how to start and make a profit from your venture.
Before venturing into any business, a good plan is required, a well-prepared document containing answers to questions like, “what is my motivation for this business?”, what do I want to do how do I go about doing it, what I need to achieve this, how far do I want to go, how much capital do I need to start? Answers to these questions and many other questions should come from facts and figures, and not from assumptions or guesswork. A good business plan will also serve as a blueprint for your investment and a guide book to success.
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- Get funding
If you have some money in kept, good for you. If not, then you have to source for money because money is the wheel of business. Without funding, everything remains only an idea in your head and you really can’t get anything off the ground.
- Secure a suitable location
As mentioned earlier, not all locations are suitable for apiculture and you have to look for one that is suitable for the business. As mentioned earlier, you can either lease land or partner with farmers who have fruit trees in their farmlands. Your apiary must be in the best conditions so can you can have a good return on investment. One major tip for locating your apiary is: Never site your apiary in a noisy or crowded place, and steer clear of swampy areas or places where insecticides are applied.
- Procure your farming equipment and stock
During your training or learning process, you would have learned about different types of bee species, their yield rates, and other important information. Bee species include the honey bee, bumblebee, mason bee, solitary bee, and so on. Some of the required equipment would include beehives, bee suits, smokers, buckets, jungle boots, wheelbarrows, basins, honey extractor, packaging machine, weighing scales, rubber plastics of various sizes, nylons for packaging, sealing machine.
After getting your equipment in place, the next step is to get the bees! How is this done? Quite simple! All you need to do is simply buy some honey and share it in the boxes. You can smear the honey within the boxes and hang them in a safe location where it will not be vandalized. Before long, your visitors will come calling. they will occupy these boxes and continue from where you stopped, taking it further!
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. Once you start this business as stated, the potential for profits is very high. An added advantage is that you don’t have to do much work. However, success in this business largely depends on how well you start and plan the business. Quite simple, isn’t it?
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