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The specialist international beekeeping organisation
Beekeeping can be a lucrative income-generating activity which is an important reason for promoting it. Although annual incomes between $200 and $1000 are sometimes quoted, there are a number of things to take into account when looking at income generation from beekeeping which makes quantifying the profitability extremely difficult.
The financial input for beekeeping using top-bar hives or frame hives is high. The average extra harvest, the difficulties of colonisation and the risks of absconding do not usually justify the initial investment. Some projects seek to reduce the costs by subsidising these hives in some way. However, one important question has to be answered, "Can a farmer continue improved beekeeping in the long run completely without outside financial aid?" If the answer is 'no' the project is not supporting an economic undertaking and is unlikely to be sustainable.
A beekeeping programme can focus on improving traditional beekeeping. In the flagship North West Bee Products enterprise, 95% of the honey is harvested from bark hives located in the Miombo forests of Zambia and it easily meets international standards. It is important that harvesting and handling is carried out carefully to ensure the honey is not contaminated or adulterated after cropping. Beekeepers are trained to select high quality combs that can be sold and separate them from the lower quality ones for home consumption or local sale. They extract honey from the comb at home using simple equipment such as cloths, buckets and sieves and clean and care for harvesting equipment to make sure the extraction process does not permit any contamination of the honey.
When starting any kind of business enterprise it is important to do some planning first. Ask lots of questions. For instance:
One of the most frequently asked questions is about sending honey for export into the European Union. It is rarely worthwhile trying to tap into European markets if a reasonable local market is available. The commodity prices for honey are not normally high enough to be more profitable than local or regional markets, especially after investment costs have been deducted. The costs of complying with European residue monitoring legislation are very significant. In addition, a minimum consignment would be a container load which would be around 18 tonnes of bulk honey and this relatively small amount would only be viable if specialist Fair Trade or Certified Organic marketing schemes were accessed. These also incur significant annual compliance costs. Before entering on this kind of investment it would be essential to finding a reliable buyer within the EU.
Local markets may be expanded by gaining a supermarket contract or seeking out higher value shop outlets. Frequently, there is a lively regional demand for honey while Asian and Middle Eastern markets are frequently easier to access than US or EU markets and may be worth investigating through local business people with connections into these communities. Entry into any large scale market will require a means of ensuring high quality honey free from dirt, contamination or adulteration while small quantities of honey will need bulking or consolidation of honey into larger quantities so a reliable supply can be made available throughout the year. A reliable supplier offering high quality honey that they can guarantee is pure, wholesome and clean will win customers who continue to return to buy more honey.
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Janet Lowore and Nicola Bradbear, published 04/11/2014
Mwakatobe Angela R. ; Machumu Raphael M., published 30/11/2010, Bees for Development Bees for Development Journal 101 41824 PDF on this website
Article (pdf file) in English
Paper presented at 71st Honey Show and Exhibition November 2002 London. Paper attached.
M R Ogaba, published 2002, 41791 PDF on this website
Paper (pdf file) in English
Food and Agriculture Organisation, published 2005, FAO FAO Forestry Paper 146 External Link
Article in English
Stakeholders share hive technology experiences Biryomumaisho Dickson Executive Director TUNADO PO Box 11804 Kampala Uganda Key words:? frame hive local-style hive top-bar hive UgandaIn February ...
Dickson B., published 30/11/2011, Bees for Development BfD Journal 102 5 Text on this website
Article In Bfd Journal in English
Ahmad F.; Joshi S.R.; Gurung M.B. & Bhatta C.R., 12.php, published 2003, Bees for Development Journal 69 13 PDF on this website
Report (pdf file) in English