Honey bee farming (also called apiculture or beekeeping) is the maintenance of bee colonies. In clear words, ‘bee farming is the process of maintaining of bee colonies or hives for the purpose of honey or other commercial products production’.
Most of the bees which are used in commercial production are honey bees in the genus apis. But other honey producing bees such as Melipona stingless bees are also kept. A location where the bees are kept is called an apiary or bee yard.
An apiarist (also called beekeeper) keeps bees for collecting their honey and other products that the hive produce (including beeswax, propolis, flower pollen, bee pollen, and royal jelly), to pollinate crops, or to produce bees for sale to other beekeepers.
But the main and most valuable product from a commercial bee farming business is ‘honey’. Honey is very popular and has good demand and value in the market.
Commercial bee farming or beekeeping business is actually one of the oldest tradition in many countries. And commercial honey bee farming is becoming a popular business due to the good local and international demand of honey.
Commercial honey bee farming is no doubt a very profitable business, at the same time it also help to increase agriculture productivity through pollination.
For example, you can start your honey bee farming business near a mustard or sesame field. You will get valuable honey, and the sesame or mustard producer will get better production. And both of you will be benefited.
However, if you are planning for starting a honey bee farming business, then do it. Don’t worry! It’s really a very profitable business.
Advantages of Honey Bee Farming Business
There are numerous advantages/benefits of starting a honey bee farming business. Here we are trying to describe about the top advantages of commercial honey production business.
- Honey bee farming is no doubt a profitable business. So, you can start this business for making profits.
- It is an established business, and many people are doing this business from a long time ago.
- Maintaining a beehive doesn’t require a huge amount of money or labor. So, it’s relatively easy to start.
- Commercial honey production business even doesn’t require a fertile land.
- This business gives many benefits to the farmers as many plants and crops depends on bees for pollination.
- Honey and other products of a bee farm like Beeswax, Royal Jelly, Bee Venom are of commercial value and can provide additional income to farmers.
- Commercial beekeeping is a good business. And it can be an employment source, especially for the educated unemployed people.
- Consuming honey on a regular basis has many health benefits. And you can enjoy fresh honey if you start your own bee farming business.
How to Start Honey Bee Farming Business
Starting commercial honey bee farming business is not too easy. It requires lots of tasks to maintain a successful bee farm. But all these tasks will be easy for you if you complete a training.
Having a full training is a must for starting this business. Here we are trying to describe more information about the steps for starting and operating a successful honey bee farming business.
You must have to complete training before starting commercial honey bee farming business. Without training, you will not be able to operate your business perfectly.
It is recommended to learn practically from an existing beekeeper in your area. And it is also recommended to work with local beekeepers in your area, especially if you have no experience working with bees.
Government organizations are providing beekeeping training in some countries. You can have training from such training organizations (if available in your country). Or learn from an experienced beekeeper.
Determine Beekeeping Methods
You can start your beekeeping business in many different methods. The most common methods of beekeeping are:
Fixed comb hives are used in traditional beekeeping business. Bee farming using fixed comb hives is an essential part of the livelihoods of many communities in poor countries.
But such hives are no longer in common use in industrialized countries. And are illegal in places that require movable combs to inspect for problems such as varroa and American foulbrood.
Topbar hives and vertical stackable hives are mostly used in modern beekeeping system. It is widely accepted system in many countries.
The natural beekeeping movement believes that bee hives are weakened by modern beekeeping and agricultural practices, such as crop spraying, hive movement, frequent hive inspections, artificial insemination of queens, routine medication, and sugar water feeding.
Practitioners of “natural beekeeping” tend to use variations of the top-bar hive, which is a simple design that retains the concept of having a movable comb without the use of frames or a foundation.
Backyard beekeeping is very similar or related to natural beekeeping. It is an attempt to revert to a less industrialized way of obtaining honey by utilizing small-scale colonies that pollinate urban gardens.
Nowadays, some beekeepers have also started keeping bees indoor. Indoor beekeeping is done in a controlled environment or in indoor observation hives.
Select a Good Location
Selecting a good location is very important for commercial honey bee farming business. You have to consider many factors while selecting a location for starting this business.
- Nectar and pollen producing plants should be near to the colony, and should be in abundance. A radius of 3 to 8 km should be good for most of the bees.
- You have to keep the colonies in shaded areas during summer. This will keep the bees protected from direct sunlight.
- It will be better if the selected land is far away from the areas with high pesticides or insects. Pesticides or insecticides should not be heavily used near a bee hive.
- A good source of clean water is very important for keeping bees. So ensure a good water source in your selected location. Water is very important and needed for diluting honey by bees and also for regulating the temperature of the hive.
Purchase Required Equipment
You will need different types of equipment for keeping honey bees in modern ways. Some common beekeeping equipment are:
- Soft leather or canvas cloth gloves.
- A container for the honey bees for making a nest for themselves.
- Hive tool. It is used to help move apart the hive frames inside the bee colony.
- Bee veil, which is used to protect the face and neck from stings.
- If you are willing to keep the bees in traditional method, then you will need clay pots, wall hives tree trunks etc.
- And in case of raising them in modern methods, you will require hive frame, super chamber, floor board, queen excluder etc.
Determine your production method, and then purchase all the required equipment.
It’s not recommended to feed the bees. Rather you must ensure a crop field is available near your farm.
Generally queen bee stays in a big chamber of the colony which is located at the lower part of the beehive. A queen bee generally met with drone once in her life.
She met with several (12-15) drones and store up to 6 million sperm to her spermatheca. And she use those sperm for rest of her life.
She keeps the sperm alive by using one type of material, produced from her body. After two days, After two days of mating she starts laying eggs.
On an average a queen bee can lay 2000-3000 eggs daily. They lay both fertile and infertile eggs. The next queen of the colony and worker bees born from the fertilized eggs. And the infertile eggs produces drone bees.
Caring & Other Management
Caring bees is not important. They will keep good care of themselves. You just keep the colony clean and well managed.
Diseases & Other Problems
The bee can be get affected by different types of enemies and diseases. About two major enemies and diseases are described here.
In wet condition the bees are affected by wax-battle. This diseases can be determined by seeing the hive covered with a layer like spider net.
By keeping the box neat and clean and changing them occasionally we can prevent this diseases. Potassium permanganate can use in the bee box to prevent this. The door of the box should closed at night and open again in the morning.
The another harmful diseases of bee is acarine. The wing of the affected bee looks like ‘A’. And they move by using their chest. The closet of the affected bee is yellow colored.
The bees moves here and there separately. In many cages they become paralyzed. Affected quin bees stops laying eggs. The main solution of this diseases is spreading mithael solicide vapor in the cage.
Honey, Bees Wax, Royal Jelly, Bee Venom, Propolis & Pollen are the main bee products from a commercial honey bee farming business. You should harvest honey at the end of a flowering season.
In traditional system, you should select a comb which contain ripe honey covered with a fine layer of white beeswax, generally those nearest the outside of the nest.
And honey is extracted only from super combs using honey extractor equipment.
Marketing honey or other bee products is very easy and simple. Because, these products already have good demand and value in both local and international market. You will probably be able to sell your products in the local market.
Some Difficulties of Bee Farming Business
There are many difficulties of bee farming. Because all required equipment and environment are not available throughout the world for bee farming.
To be successful in bee farming business, you will need to take proper care and management and also ensure all required facilities. The main difficulties of bee farming business are shown below.
- Lack of sufficient facilities.
- Lack of required equipment.
- Adverse weather.
- Low quality bee cage.
- Lack of suitable environment.
- Lack of bee feed.
- Lack of knowledge.
- Low interest in bee keeping.
These are the common steps and ways for starting and operating a successful bee farming or beekeeping business. Hope this guide has helped you! Good luck & may God bless you!
Best Tips for Bee Farming
Here are the best tips for bee farming, which will help you get started and achieve success in your beekeeping journey.
Start with a Plan
Before starting your bee farming journey, it is essential to have a plan in place. You should research the necessary equipment, the type of bees you want to keep, and the location of your hives.
Determine what you want to achieve from bee farming, whether it’s for personal use or commercial purposes. Having a plan in place will help you make informed decisions and stay on track with your goals.
Choose the Right Location
The location of your beehive is crucial to the success of your bee farming venture. Bees need a sunny, sheltered area that is not too windy or exposed.
It is also important to keep the hive away from any potential threats, such as predators, chemical pollutants, or areas with heavy traffic. You should also ensure that the hive is easily accessible for maintenance and monitoring.
Use Quality Equipment
Investing in quality equipment is crucial for bee farming. You should purchase a good quality beehive, frames, bee suits, gloves, and other necessary tools.
The quality of your equipment will impact the health and productivity of your bees, as well as your own safety and comfort while working with them.
Choose the Right Type of Bees
There are several types of bees available for bee farming, such as Italian, Carniolan, Russian, and Buckfast bees. Each type has its own characteristics and advantages, so it is important to choose the one that is most suitable for your climate and goals.
Italian bees, for example, are known for their productivity and gentle nature, while Carniolan bees are well-adapted to cold weather and resistant to pests and diseases.
Get Proper Training
Bee farming requires knowledge and skills that can be learned through proper training. You can attend beekeeping courses or workshops, read books and online resources, or get mentorship from experienced beekeepers.
Proper training will help you understand the behavior of bees, the importance of hive management, and the best practices for maintaining healthy colonies.
Start with a Small Number of Hives
It is recommended to start with a small number of hives when you first begin bee farming. This will allow you to gain experience and confidence in managing the hives and monitoring the bees’ health and productivity. You can gradually expand your bee farm as you become more experienced and confident.
Keep Your Hive Clean
Keeping your hive clean is essential for maintaining healthy bees. You should regularly inspect the hive and remove any dead bees, debris, or mold that may accumulate. You should also ensure that the frames and combs are free from pests, such as wax moths or varroa mites.
Provide Adequate Food and Water
Bees require a steady supply of food and water to maintain their health and productivity. You should provide a variety of nectar and pollen sources, such as flowers, trees, or crops, that are available throughout the year.
You can also provide sugar water or honey when natural sources are scarce. You should also ensure that the bees have access to clean and fresh water.
Monitor for Pests and Diseases
Bees are vulnerable to various pests and diseases that can impact their health and productivity. You should regularly monitor your hives for signs of pests, such as wax moths or small hive beetles, and diseases, such as American foulbrood or chalkbrood.
You should also take appropriate measures to prevent and treat any infestations or infections, such as using natural remedies or medication.
Use Sustainable Beekeeping Practices
Sustainable beekeeping practices aim to minimize the impact of bee farming on the environment and promote the health and well-being of bees. You can adopt practices such as organic beekeeping, natural hive management, and bee-friendly gardening.
Sustainable beekeeping practices can also help you produce high-quality, chemical-free honey and other bee products.
Provide Adequate Ventilation
Bees require adequate ventilation to regulate the temperature and humidity inside the hive. You should ensure that your hive has sufficient ventilation, such as screened bottom boards or top entrances, to prevent moisture buildup and promote air circulation.
Protect Your Bees from Pesticides
Pesticides and other chemical pollutants can have a devastating impact on bees and other pollinators. You should take measures to protect your bees from exposure to pesticides, such as avoiding the use of chemical pesticides in your garden or beekeeping area and keeping your bees away from areas with heavy pesticide use.
Practice Good Hygiene
Good hygiene is essential for preventing the spread of diseases and maintaining healthy bees. You should wash your hands and equipment thoroughly before and after working with your bees. You should also wear clean bee suits and gloves and avoid transferring any contaminated material or equipment between hives.
Monitor the Honey Harvest
The honey harvest is one of the most rewarding aspects of bee farming, but it also requires careful monitoring and management. You should ensure that the honey is properly ripened and capped before harvesting and that you leave enough honey in the hive for the bees to survive the winter.
Build a Strong Beekeeping Community
Building a strong beekeeping community can provide you with valuable support, knowledge, and resources. You can join local beekeeping associations, attend beekeeping events and workshops, or participate in online forums and groups. Building a strong community can also help you stay informed about new trends and best practices in bee farming.
Keeping accurate records is essential for monitoring the health and productivity of your bees and making informed decisions about hive management. You should keep track of important information, such as hive inspections, honey harvests, and pest and disease control measures, in a notebook or digital record.
Be Prepared for Emergencies
Emergencies can happen at any time, and it is essential to be prepared to handle them. You should have a plan in place for dealing with potential emergencies, such as swarm control, hive damage, or natural disasters. You should also have a first aid kit and emergency contact information readily available.