Beekeeping, or apiculture, is the practice of keeping bees for their honey and several other products like beeswax, propolis and royal jelly. A 2017 report on beekeeping in Nigeria showed that Nigeria produces less than 3 percent of its total honey consumption. This means that the beekeeping business, if done right, is an open area with great opportunity for success. Interestingly enough, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) believes that Nigeria is capable of generating $10 billion dollars a year on hive products. So if you are looking to start a business, you might want to consider going into apiculture. If you already own an apiary, you need to consider taking these important steps to improve your profits.
- Get the lay of the land
We mean this both literally and metaphorically. You need to be fully equipped with information concerning apiculture. This is especially important if you’re just starting your own. You’ll be surprised how many people start up a business with less than 50 per cent knowledge of how it works. You need to acquire practical training, either by working as an apprentice in a bee farm, or going for professional training.
Before you start, ensure that you get adequate information concerning the dos and don’ts of keeping a hive.
For instance, you don’t need to feed the bees yourself as they can feed off nectar and pollen from plants. But it is advisable to keep them close to fruit trees in an orchard since bees are great agents of pollination; they’ll ensure that the trees yield more fruits. With this in mind, you could choose to own an orchard as well, or partner with farmers to let you use their land while your bees facilitate an increase in produce and, thus, more profit.
- Plan, plan, plan
Your success in your beekeeping business is dependent largely on how well you plan things out. Make sure you prepare adequately to take on this task. For example, get enough boxes to serve as your beehives. Situate them in as perfect a location as you can. You must ensure that the location is not close to a swampy area or a place where insecticides are used (Bees are insects after all). Place the beehives somewhere away from the sun. You could hang them on the branches of shade trees. Make sure that your bees have access to enough pollen and nectar as a food source. This is very crucial to the optimal success of your business.
- Make quality your watchword
Quality is in itself a powerful marketing strategy. You must ensure that the honey from your bees is of premium quality. Here are a few pointers to take note of:
- Ensure that the honey is processed as soon as it is collected.
- During processing, do not let insects – either flying insects or ants – contaminate it.
- Ensure that the processing materials are as dry as possible. Getting too much water in your honey causes its fermentation.
- You can also make sure that your bees feed on pure nectar and pollen. It can improve the quality of their output.
- Do not put any additives into your honey after harvesting.
- The final output after processing must be clear and free of any sort of impurities.
- Put on your marketing gear
This is as important as anything we’ve mentioned earlier. Marketing is germane to the success of any business, and beekeeping is no exception. Making sure that your honey has the required quality is the first step. You could also consider joining the Beekeepers Association to help you get your products to the right market. But you must understand that there are so many people who would buy your products. So don’t get pressured into selling it cheap, especially if you have not cut corners on its quality!
- Know your seasons
Proper beekeeping involves having a full understanding of the bee seasonal cycle. Unlike in temperate regions such as Europe, the seasonal cycle in Nigeria is unstable. To ensure that you run your business profitably, you need to study the cycle well. You could do this by getting training, learning from experienced beekeepers, or joining the Beekeepers Association for guidance.
Now that you know this, you understand that running a lucrative beekeeping business isn’t as hard as you may have thought. However, it does require extreme care, proper planning and optimal attention. If you can keep up with these requirements, why not give it a try? You may be on to your very own golden pot.
You can click here to read about running a profitable farming business that isn’t necessarily beekeeping.