Is Bee Farming Profitable In Kenya?

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Apiculture or beekeeping is a long-term investment that is rewarding and fulfilling if you are willing to put in the time. It requires a lot of patience and resilience and there are no shortcuts. There are no guarantees on the performance of your hives as they can take up to one year before they are colonized or your bees can get a better place and abscond. If you are intending to do this as a business, be certain that this is a worthwhile venture.

You need to invest in learning and acquiring as much information as you can to manage your apiaries well, observe the bee behaviour as well as find out instances of stress, starvation, and pest infestation in the hives. Regular management and inspection will ensure healthy colonies and productive bees. Bees also employ interesting ways of communication that can let you in on their intended actions.

How Much Does It Cost To Start A Beekeeping Business?

Compared to most agricultural ventures, the costs associated with beekeeping are fair. You also do not need to purchase extra land as it is normally integrated into the other farming activities. In addition to honey and other products, bees are super pollinators and will see the quality and yields of your farm produce improve. The implication of this is that you are likely to break even within a shorter time compared to other types of farming.

The aim of this article is to walk with you as a beginner, to identify what you need to do in beekeeping as a business, and look at the merits, demerits as well as opportunities that the industry presents. This will enable you to decide if bee farming is for you and make an informed choice.

Initial costs of the beekeeping business

To set up an apiary, you will require beehives: I recommend Langstroth hives because they make it easy to inspect and harvest. You do not need to cut off the combs when harvesting and this makes it easier for the bees to fill in the honey and cap it in a shorter time. The African Langstroth hive in particular keeps off pests like wasps, beetles, and moths from the beehive. You will also need a bee suit with gloves, a smoker, a hive tool, masking tape, a stainless steel sieve, and a bee brush. The cost is dependent on the number of beehives you plan on keeping but we will work with ten beehives as the minimum number because the returns make business sense. It is recommended to set up the apiary first, put swarm lure (lemongrass oil) in the hives and see if they will get colonised first before deciding to purchase colonies. You can also learn queen rearing and get to grow your colonies. The initial purchase you make will last you over ten years.

The cost of these items is outlined below:

Profitable Bee Products

The most popular product from the beehive is honey. However, there are other products like wax, propolis, colonies, royal jelly, and bee venom. We are going to look at honey, wax, and propolis, as they do not require you to get more specialized equipment or advanced training as a beginner, and the market for them is readily available.

Most of the hive products are utilized in their natural state. Even so, there is added value that can be derived from processing and using them as ingredients in other products. As a result of their quality and attributes, addition to different products typically improves their value or nature. The article works with farm gate prices and these may vary if you intend to package and sell by yourself.

Honey (Price Kes 500 per Kilo)

Honey is five times more expensive than oil and the demand for this natural product is increasing not only in Africa but globally. For instance, the EU produces only 60% of the honey they need and have to import 40% despite being the world’s second-largest honey producer.

A strong healthy colony can give you eight to ten kilos of honey per hive per harvest. If you factor in two harvests per year, the beehive will give you a minimum of 16 kilos. If you start with 10 beehives, this translates to a total income of Kes 80,000. You will recover 77% of the initial cost of 102,750 in the first year and enjoy your profits for the next years.

Wax (Price 700 per kilo)

Beeswax is obtained during the uncapping of the combs to remove the honey. Worker bees have eight pairs of glands containing wax under their abdomen, which produce small wax scales. Bees make combs in a process that involves the worker taking the wax scales, moving them to the front legs, and mixing them with saliva. The resulting product is wax that is useful for building the comb. From a kilo of honey, you are likely to get 80 grams of wax using a Langstroth hive. Other hives like the Kenya top bar hive and the log hive produce more wax per harvest because you cut the full comb.

Propolis (Price Kes 800 per Kilo.)

Propolis is a product that bees get from tree resins and is used in making their hives. Honey bees use propolis in the construction and repair of their hives due to its waxy nature and mechanical properties, to smooth out the internal walls and fix openings and cracks. The propolis is also used as a protective seal to shield the hive against intruders like snakes and lizards or enduring threats like wind and rain. Honey bees accumulate propolis from various plants, in the topical environmental zones. Current uses of propolis include treatment for cold conditions (upper respiratory infections and diseases) wound recovery, treatment of skin conditions, skin break out, herpes simplex and genitalis, and neurodermatitis.

Beekeeping is worth your money

There are other profitable bee products like royal jelly, bee venom pollination services, and queen rearing that you can get into later but as a beginner, it is good to start with the three as you gain confidence and experience in managing your bees. As you can see, beekeeping is a worthy investment as long as you invest in learning what is required and just be a little bit patient. It gets easier when you work with apiculture experts, like Lancel Investments, who guide you through the whole process so that you don’t get into the business blindly.

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