By Gabriella Nashiva & Allan Kai
Apiculture is a rapidly growing practice sweeping the agriculture industry in Kenya. Its profitability has drawn many toward exploring it as a source of income. So what exactly is apiculture?
Well, in layman terms, apiculture translates to “beekeeping”, and a person partaking in the practice is known as an apiarist. Or simply, a “beekeeper”. A collection of bee hives is known as an apiary.
Records show the domestication of bees has been took place in ancient Egypt over 4000 years ago. However, the practice has become more refined and has garnered a lot of attention, especially for the potential monetary benefits.
Setting up a bee hive
Apiaries need to be located in areas where bees could thrive. Hives should be located near water sources and nectar sources.
Apiaries can be set up anywhere in the country provided the hives are located away from strong sunlight, flooding or an area with strong winds. Therefore, anyone can venture in beekeeping.
What does it take for you to set up an apiary?
Well, in Kenya a bee hive costs about Sh5000. Bee suits cost about Sh3000, a bee smoker Sh3000, honey extractor about Sh50k. Roughly about Sh50k to Sh100k is needed for the entire
set up. It takes between 4 to 6 months to harvesting honey from when a colony is introduced to a hive.
What are the benefits of apiculture?
Agripreneurs considering this venture could reap many rewards not only from the sale of honey, but also from the byproducts of apiculture.
Among the most lucrative beekeeping byproducts are, beeswax, propolis, royal jelly, and pollen. These secondary beekeeping byproducts can be transformed into a wide variety of value-added products including candles, lip balm, soap, and body cream.
Bee venom could be extracted and used in medicine, where it has been touted as having anti-inflammatory properties to help soothe conditions such as joint pains, arthritis and some tumors.
What do the numbers look like in apiculture?
Expected honey crop from one colony = 20Kgs, 1kg of honey retails at an estimate range of Sh800 to Sh1200 depending on location and quality.
So, 15 occupied hives in an apiary, is 15 colonies = 300Kgs and will sell for an estimate of Sh240,000 to Sh360,000. These figures are from the sale of honey alone, not inclusive of the byproducts mentioned earlier as they depend on the value addition rendered to them.
Low occupation rate, absconding and swarming are some of the challenges you could face. However, where there is a will there is a way. If bee occupancy is low, check if the apiary is clean, wax your top bars, check location you chose to hang your hives.
Lack of food and water in the apiary could be another reason you are experiencing challenges. Keep pests at bay, ensure there’s enough shade to shield the apiary from unfavorable weather conditions.
When all this is in order and you still experience challenges, consider that the genetic character of bees. Some breeds of bees are always migrating, your provider will guide you more to understanding and identifying the different breeds.
How to tell real honey from fake honey:
- Pure honey is thick and dense while fake honey is not.
- Pure honey does not dissolve in water, it sits at the bottom as a lump and dilutes after a while. Fake honey dissolves in water right away.
- When spread on a loaf of bread, pure honey hardens the slice quickly, but with fake honey the slice remains wet.
- Fake honey spills when touched by the finger, while pure honey stays intact.
Fun facts about bees
- Bee wax is available as white yellow or bleached. Yellow wax is what comes from the comb, while the other two are derived from it.
- World Honey bee day is every 20thof May.
- Bees play a major role in the ecosystem. Some crops such strawberries and watermelon require pollinationfrom bees. Without bees their yields would drop.
- The fear of bees is known as Apiphobia.