Ever thought about bee farming/keeping as your career? If you want to work in this field, then this post is very useful for you to know about this profitable business.
Bee Farming: Keeping the Stinging but Profitable collectors and producers
Bee is a stinging winged insect which collects nectar and pollen, produces wax and honey, and lives in large communities. Farming is the activity or business of growing crops and raising livestock. Hence, bee farming is a business activity of raising bees(honey bees) and collecting wax and mainly honey produced by them to earn profit.
Kinds of the bees
Before beginning to comprehend the actual bee farming ( also known as Apiculture ) concept one needs to understand what are the different kinds of bees and what do they actually do.
There are over two hundred different kinds of bees. Only two of the many kinds of bees we have are “social”( social bees live together as a colony ) and those are the bumblebee and the honey bee. But there are differences between them.
- Honey bees are social the whole year round whereas the bumblebees are social only during the summer.
- Bumblebees do not store honey.
Categories of the bees
Let us understand the bee family first which prevails as a colony. One colony of a honey bee consists of three categories of the bees.
1. The Queen bee
The first and the most important one is the Queen bee who is basically an egg-laying machine. In each hive, there is only one queen. The number of eggs laid by her depends upon the proportion of food fed to her by the workers. In the summer, she may lay 3000 a day. She has no wax pockets or pollen baskets on her back and she is longer than the workers and walk on the comb with her wings folded across her back. She may live as long as five years but the beekeepers usually replace her at the end of her second season and this is known as re-queening.
2. The Drones
Secondly, they have the male bees known as the Drones. They are the largest in the colony and their only duty is to fertilize the young queens. They have no sting and do not work in the hive. On the approach of autumn, the workers (bees) turn them out of the hive to die.
3. The Workers
The last but not the least a bee colony includes the Workers. The workers are imperfect females who are specially fitted for work and do all the work of the hive. They work so hard that in the summer they live only for about six weeks whereas in winters when there is little work they live for about six months. Almost as soon as they are born they start working.
- They clean out the cells for the queen to lay eggs, feed and clean her, attend the grubs, guard the hive against robber bees and wasps.
- They fan with their wings not only to keep the hive cool but also to help in the ripening of the honey and then they start to work outside the hive, like collecting water, propolis, nectar and pollen.
Products Generated by Bees
- Honey Bee venom
- Bee wax
- Royal jelly
Bees Producing Honey: How do they do it?
The bees do not really collect the honey, all they do is load a sweet liquid called nectar, which is secreted by the flowers to attract visitors.
The nectar much of which is water, is carried home in the sac inside the bee’s body, and on the journey home and after being placed in the cells, much of the water is driven off. In this process, the nectar turns into honey which is the main concern of the beekeepers.
In Bee farming, the person concerned need not worry about the actual production of honey. Their major goal is to create the perfect surrounding for the bees to carry out the process at a faster pace. After a certain period, when the bees have created the honey then the beekeepers need to use proper tools and techniques to extract the honey without harming the bees.
Tools You need as a beekeeper
As a beekeeper, you must have the necessary tools for this work. Whose links I have given below here. If you want to start this work, then you can order these tools online –
- Honey Bee Hive Wooden Box
- Protective Gear: Beekeeping Suit, Leather Gloves and Bee Veil
- The Smoker
- The Hive Tool
- The Bee Brush
- Extracting Equipment
The eligibility criteria is straightforward. The person should be above the age of 17 and he must possess the basic knowledge of this farming. It is preferred that the individual should have a minimum qualification until the 8th standard (not compulsory). The person handling the bees should be trained beforehand. The training can be done either from the training institutions or by working under a professional in this field.
The income highly varies based on the seasons. The profit is more during the summers as there are about 80,000 bees and about hundreds of drones whereas it may reduce the profit during winters when the bees cluster on their combs.
The income of a beekeeper also depends upon the number of boxes owned by him. The honey produced per box is, 20 kg and it is sold at Rs100 per kg. In that case, the income per box shall be 2000. For instance, if we take a beekeeper having 20 boxes, then the profit for him will be around 40,000. The estimates show the profit per season.
How to start?
Starting a bee farming business is not much big of a deal. If proper training is done and if a person is well informed about the market composition of honey products then there is absolutely no need to worry.
- The first step is to analyze the market. If there is a demand for the product then one can start its production.
- The second step is to seek potential trainers and experts in the interested person’s geographical premises. Subsequently, the training shall help in understanding the species well which can, in turn, be helpful.
- Then comes the buyers, one must always make sure the product is sold at a good price. Hence, buyers should be trustworthy and should promote the sale of the product.
Most of the introductory guidance can be achieved by going to the training centres. The government also assists newcomers. About 40 % subsidy is provided by the government to individuals who seek to commence bee farming.
National Bee Board is a distinguished organization which offers guidance in this field.
Although getting training is not compulsory, one should always try and look forward to learning from good establishments so that he can earn greater revenue. Some of them are enlisted below:
- Khadi and Village Industries Commission, India
- Sahara Gramudyog Sansthan, Saharanpur [ Uttar Pradesh ]
- Bharat Honeybee Centre Training Program [ Avinissery, Thrissur, Kerala ]
- Arya Gramodyog Sansthan, Delhi
- Indira Gandhi National Open University, Maidan Garhi (IGNOU), New Delhi
Pros and Cons:
Bee farming as a business will have many pros and cons. To better understand the job of the beekeepers one should consider the various aspects of beekeeping split up as the advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Bee Farming
Bee farming gives birth to the following advantages:-
- The investment to start it is low.
- Abee hive and bees near crops field is good for high yielding returns in the crops.
- The beekeeper does not need multiple crates to generate income. A minimum of 5 boxes is enough at the beginning.
- The maintenance of the bees is not a problem after a few months of experience.
- Just two people are enough to look after almost 50 boxes full of bees. Hence, no labour involved.
- The equipment or machine used to extract the honey is not so expensive and it is easy to operate.
- Other than honey, the bee produces venom and wax which can be another source of income.
- There are a lot of ways in which honey is used and it is the only food product which can be stored for a long time and yet the quality is not compromised.
- The production of honey in one box takes a minimum of 5-6 days and hence the returns on investment can be faster than one might think.
- Due to the fertilization process, the number of bees keeps on increasing which in turn helps in the increment of production. After almost a year a new box is added and after a few years, the business growth is certain.
Disadvantages of Bee Farming
Every rose has it’s thorns and likewise, Bee farming has its share of cons:-
- The little bees can sting and if they fear the threat then they sting together all at once. Controlling and containing them can be a real challenge.
- The bees are of various types and in case if the bees are bought without proper knowledge of its kind then the product might not meet the expectations.
- The raising up of bees is a tough process. They need to be migrated to places where the seasonal crops grow so that the bees can collect nectar and produce honey.
- When the bee family grows, the box containing the bees become less suitable for their survival. If not shifted to another crate, they may die and hence pose a threat of loss.
- In the rural areas, the people are unaware of marketing techniques and hence have no idea how to go about selling their product.
- Swarming is a great nuisance to the beekeepers and means a loss of honey to him. If he losses a swarm it means he losses 30,000 or more bees. This happens when the chambers are opened for the bees to go out for collecting nectar.
- A lot of things need to be considered while preparing a beekeeping farm. The location is one of them. For areas with heavy rainfall, beekeeping can be an investment with very little profit.
The Indian there are about five major states involved in the production of honey. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh. The total production of honey in India is about 80,000 MT and there are 2 lakh beekeepers and 18 lakh colonies of bees who produce this much honey. This is just a minuscule fraction of India’s potential to maintain at least 200 million bee colonies, which would provide employment to 215 lakh people of the nation. This is a growing business and if the force directed toward the right goal one can achieve wonders.