Starting a honey production business in Nigeria is a profitable business that requires little capital in establishing as such, it is one of the agri-business i usually encourage young entrepreneurs to venture into, coupled with its good potential of turning small-scale enterprise into a large enterprise.
In Nigeria alone the current domestic consumption rate of honey is over a 300,000 tonnes per annum. However, the country production is simply low and stands at about 20, 000 tonne per annum -That means the rest are outsourced from other countries. Meanwhile, Nigeria spends over N3 billion on the importation of honey from both China, India and other neighbouring Africa Country annually.
Honey, and its by-product, beeswax are essential ingredients in many skin care, food, medicinal and industrial goods. It is estimated that the value of this natural produce will grows as more people become aware of its health benefit and industrial activities increases in Nigeria.
ALSO CHECK OUT: Starting a Fish Farm In Nigeria (Detailed Guide)
Starting a Honey Production Business
This honey production business involves 3 stages which are:
Individuals and business entities can breed and keep bees for commercial use, that is, keeping them for the purpose of the honey they produce. With bees going extinct in most parts of the world, the honey production business will sustain and increase the bee population.
Honey are produced from bees, and the species of bees that produced the honey are the Western honey bee (A. mellifera), and the Eastern honey bee (Apiscerana). These worker bees that goes out to find nectars in flowers, gather the ripened nectar and store them in their sac (kind of like a stomach) to be deposited into unused honeycomb cells in the bee hive.
Other worker bees in the hive add more enzymes and enrich the deposits they ingest. Mature honey is placed back in the combs and capped with a light coating of beeswax.
On average, a bee hive produces about 60-100 pounds of honey every year. Honey farmers take out full honeycombs then extract its content. The honey is then processed through heating, filtering and further packaged into bottles.
Types of The Honey Production Business
Organic Honey Production
Organic honey producers establish beehives in lands free from chemicals to obtain organic honey and they make sure that the bee’s food, flowers, are well kept. Spraying chemicals on plants around a hive can damage the organic content in the nectar. Also, bees are not given antibiotics of any form in this type of production.
After extraction, the product is filtered and pasteurized. However, heating organic honey above the standard 95 degrees pasteurization level causes nutrient loss.
Raw Honey Production
Raw honey production is one of the popular forms of bee farming and honey production in Nigeria, in this form, honey is obtained and sold in its pure (raw) state. This type of honey is never heated above 95 degrees. It is extracted, left to settle, filtered and packaged for distribution. Unlike organic honey, beehives don’t require a chemical-free bee farm.
Extracted honey is sieved in a mesh cloth to remove inedible particles like dead bees, this straining process is a bit lax in raw honey processing and that’s why most people do not put it into practice and one is likely to find pieces of dead bees and other inedible particle in the liquid honey when bought.
Regular/Refined Honey Production:
Regular honey production is a complex operation and as thus is not mainly done by small scale enterprise but by large scale enterprise and international cooperations. The production steps in this type of business are extraction, filtering, heating (Pasteurization), and centrifuge.
Regular honey is the kind of honey popularly sold in shopping mall and is free from all impurities and has a gold-brown colour caused by overheating. The heat level is above pasteurization levels (95 degrees) and consumes the yeast within the honey. This process makes the honey smooth but destroys some of its vital nutrients like enzymes, antioxidants, and pollen and thus used mainly as a sweeter for foods and drink.
An additional benefit of this product is its physically attractive appearance. It is known to draw attention at first glance than raw honey would.
How To Start A Honey Production Business
To start this kind of business there are many things one has to put or take into consideration and they include:
The scale of operations and type of honey to be produced determines the amount of capital required to set up and run the business. With the Federal Government intervention on Agriculture, taking loans for Agri-related business can help boast this business into the category of a medium scale enterprise.
Choose A Good Location
Select a production site only after you have surveyed the area and considered its advantages and disadvantages. For instance, an organic honey producer’s farm has to be located in an area that is free from chemical pollution.
Beehives thrive in quiet and isolated areas with water and food (nectar) source within a 1-kilometre range. The fewer distance bees have to travel to get nectar, the more honey they produce. Also, avoid waterlogged, termite infested areas.
Do not select a residential area as bees might cause nuisance to that particular area.
Since wild bees are the main source of honey in Nigeria, the way to get domesticated breeds are from local bee farms around Nigeria or by importing western or eastern hybrids bees from other countries but this will be difficult and also expensive, this should be your last resort.
You will need materials especially to build the beehive, the construction of the beehive will totally depend on you and your technical-know-how.
Raw materials and production materials are required at different phases of your farming operation.
Harvesting Process: Before removing the combs, put on protective gloves and a masked helmet. The three methods for driving off bees are the smoking, board separation, and sweeping methods.
Production Process: Honey production has three main steps. First, there is the extraction process using an extractor or manual crushing. Next, the extracted substance is strained to remove any beeswax particles. The extracted honey is heated to liquefy and purify honey. Remember, organic and raw types of honey do not go through a heavily filtered or heated process like the regular honey. Pasteurization of raw and organic honey production does not exceed 95 degrees.
Pests and Diseases
In other to be able to achieve a constant flow of income from your honey production business, you then need to know how to control pests and diseases, Pests: termites, hive beetle, wax moth and Diseases: Viral and bacterial infections like Chalkbrood and Nosema diseases that affect bees, decreasing the hives and honey production.
When you have built the hive farms, they should be visited at least once a week to keep an eye out for pests and diseases that can destroy hives and reduce productivity. Unused hives should be cleaned and baited regularly to attract more bees.
Beeswax or anything containing beeswax baits wild bees. However, these bees might carry diseases that could infect the other hives. Be sure to check and treat infectious bees to prevent infestation.
Some of the challenges of honey production business in Nigeria include:
The industry’s potential has remained untapped because many prospective investors are unaware of the benefits of beekeeping.
A lot of honey producers find it difficult to increase the quality and production of their honey due to lack of funds and poor technical skills.
Unstable market price for honey is a key challenge honey producers face, especially when producers want to export.
Cheap adulterated honey competes with organic/raw honey in foreign and domestic markets.
Due to poor knowledge on pest and diseases, most bee farmers are not productive as most of their beehives are infected.
Business Opportunities In Honey Production Business For Nigerians
There are millions of people in Nigeria and Africa, who use honey as a healthy alternative to sugar. The daily and different uses of this natural product by so many people generate very high demand.
Consequently, the market for honey has expanded every year, and it keeps growing. This fast-paced growth has created several business opportunities for honey producers.
Some of them are:
Wholesale and Retail Sales
Honey can be produced and distributed to wholesale and retail outlets within and outside a city or state. Producers can also sell honey on different online stores.
Honey Product Exports
Exporting raw, refined, or organic honey is highly profitable. The global market for this commodity is rapidly growing with China and New Zealand in the lead. One can tap into this business opportunity and earn thousands of dollars on a monthly basis.
Manufacturers of items like royal jelly, candles, antibiotics, cleaning wax, and salves are a large market for honey producers. A contract to supply raw honey and beeswax to these companies is a great way to earn a constant income from the trade.
Honey producers can breed and keep bees for personal or commercial use. With bees going extinct in most parts of the world, the honey production business will sustain and increase the bee population.
Beekeeping has considerable value in domestic and foreign markets. It is one business that will boost Africa’s economy.
Medicinal Natural Remedy
Honey is a centuries-old, natural treatment for many ailments. It is combined with some current medicines to combat bacterial and inflammatory infections. It’s also excellent for dressing wounds, treating burns, and easing a cough. Honey cures and prevents digestive troubles and viral diseases like measles.
The market for honey in the medical industry is a growing one as people are going back to the natural/organic lifestyle. One could earn a steady profit from supplying honey to herb doctors and natural healers on a regular basis.
Beauty Product Market
Every day, health and beauty lovers invent varying and effective ways to use honey in combatting hair and skin issues. Refined honey is combined with other substances to improve the skin, hair, and nail conditions. It hydrates dry cuticles, deep conditions all hair types, treats acne, and moisturizes & cleanses the skin.
Honey contains a lot of nutrients that slow down or prevent ageing and wrinkles. Products infused with honey include conditioners, moisturizers, full body scrubs, facial cleansers, face masks, lotions, and more.
Numerous beauty companies add honey to their skin and health care products. Honey producers can make significant profits from selling honey to these companies.
The honey production business in Nigeria is a venture that can contribute positively to the economic output of the country and improve the lives of people who operate in the industry. Establishing a business in the honey making and beekeeping industry requires some training, decent management skills, and quality control. With these well learnt, a well-managed bee farm can thrive and become a successful business.