Honey Bee Farming for Beginners. How to Start a Honey Processing Business…
Almost all of us would have seen beehives in our surroundings. But not many would have thought about a business opportunity through beekeeping.
In this article we discuss about the best honey bee farming techniques for beginners. With a good knowledge about the honey processing business plan, you could generative attractive income by raising honey bees.
Why Honey Processing Business?
I expect everyone to have all sorts of doubts when I start this discussion about how to make good money through honey processing business. Let us answer the “why” first. Why should we venture into honey bee farming?
The product of honey bee farming is honey. Honey bee collects honey from flower nectar’s and store it in its nest also called beehive. We collect honey from such beehives. The honey thus obtained has uses in a wide range of industries.
Honey is majorly used in food processing industries. It is used as a sweetening agent in candies, bakery, diary products etc. It can also be directly consumed. It is used as a healthy alternative for refined sugar. Honey is proven to reduce risks of heart attack and strokes.
Another application of honey is in cosmetic industry. Many organic cosmetics have honey as a major ingredient. Honey can be used for healing burns, wounds or some skin conditions.
Apart from the industrial applications, honey bee farms also favor agricultural production as honey bees helps in pollination of flowers. So, it would be a wise idea for farmers with large agricultural area to start honey bee business along with it.
Setting up bee hives in the farm area helps in pollination for the crops and thus increase agricultural production. At the same time, it helps honey bees to produce high quality honey.
So that’s all regarding the why for starting a honey bee business.
Initial Set Up Required for Starting Honey Bee Farming
Site selection is very critical for honey production in a bee farm.
If you are starting honey bee farming on a large scale, it’s advisable to have it in an open farm area. This makes it easier for the bees to collect honey. At the same time, your farm is benefited by bee pollination. Availability of water and shade in the site is important. If there are not enough trees to provide shade, artificial structures could be built for this purpose. A cool and dry atmosphere is best suited for bee farming as excessive moisture in the atmosphere would affect the quality of honey produced.
If you want to start bee farming small scale, you can do so by erecting a beehive equipment in your backyard. If you are a beginner, you can start with 2 or 3 beehives. It’s better to attend some proper training on beekeeping before starting it yourself.
For beginners, its better to form a group in the neighborhood and start bee farming together. Set up beehives during spring season. It’s a good practice to plant enough flowers around your beehives, thus making it easier for bees to gather honey.
Getting the right beekeeping equipment suited for your locality is important for the success of your bee farm. Get assistance from people who have expertise in making beekeeping equipment.
Also make sure you buy the best variety of bees available in the market. The most important honey bee species available in the market are:
- The Indian hive bee
- The Rock bee
- The Little bee
- The European bee and
- The Stingless bee
It’s also important to have the queen bee along with the swarm of bees you buy. Queen bee is the fertile and functional female in the beehive. Apart from the queen, the other types of bees in the honey bee colony are the drones and the workers. Workers are sterile females while drones are male bees. A typical bee hive comprises of several thousands of worker bees and a few hundred drones.
Large scale honey farms also have a laboratory set up associated with it. This is used mainly for inspecting bees as well as for testing the quality of honey produced. If you are starting on a small scale you can make use of such laboratories in the neighborhood.
When setting your beehives, make sure you do that away from roadsides or other houses. You do not want to risk others getting bitten by bees. Also, there are certain rules and regulations to be followed while setting up your beehives.
How Do We Process Honey?
Harvesting of honey from beehives is done mostly during the end of summer season. The best practice is to install the bee hives during the spring season. Take care of them during the winters and finally start with honey extraction during summer end. After harvesting you can either discard the hive or set it up for the honeys to again come back.
Extraction of honey from the honeycomb should be done with expert assistance. While doing so, cover yourself with special gear, as there is a risk of getting bit by bees. Before starting the extraction process, open the beehive and allow the bees to escape. Now we are left with the honeycomb. Extraction is the process of collecting honey from the honeycomb.
There are a number of honey processing methods. Honey extractors which works on the principle of centrifugal force, bulk extraction method, pressing extraction method are some of the most commonly used honey extraction techniques. Honey extractors are the commonly used here technique with which we could extract honey without destroying the honey comb.
The extracted honey would have impurities – wax, comb residue etc. So, filters are employed for clearing honey from all these impurities. After refining, honey is packed into bottles and sold in the market.
So far, we have discussed the major honey processing steps. Now let us discuss some of the best practices to get successful in a honey processing business.
If you are having your beehives in your backyard, try growing variety of flowers around it. This helps bees to collect honey with ease. The quality of honey is also dependent on this.
How to Get Successful in Honey Processing Business
Honey bee business is not an easy money business. It requires efforts and patience to be successful in honey processing business. There will be more profits, if instead of selling to other traders you directly sell it to customers.
Marketing and branding are important if you are selling honey on your own. There is always high demand for pure organic honey. People prefer to buy raw honey than the synthetically processed honey. Okay, so we sell raw honey. But how to get our customers know that the honey we sell is pure and organic. Let me give you few ideas.
Your customers would be more inclined to buy your honey, if they know more about how you raise your honey bees and process honey. So, brand your farm and give opportunity for your customers to come and visit your farm. Once they see and understand about your farm, techniques used for honey processing and packaging, they will not only buy from you but also recommend your product to people they know. In a short span of time, you can build a large target market and push your product with ease.
As we have already discussed in the starting of the article, apart from being used in its original form, honey after processing has application in food industry, medicinal industry and cosmetic industry. Also, the wax which is obtained as a byproduct while refining honey, can be used as a raw material for Candle making business.
Honey bee business requires some initial investment. The estimated investment needed for bee operations depends on the scale in which you need to establish your honey bee hives. If you are doubtful whether bee farming suits you, then you can start on a small scale as a trial basis and expand later.
Honey bee farming might get adversely affected from pests and other diseases. Pests like moths, wasps, ants or birds might ruin your hives. Adequate control measures are to be taken to save your beehives from these.
Honey bee farming involves dealing with honey bees most of the time. Avoid getting bitten by the bees. Always wear the required gear while working with them. Bee sting can cause extreme pain and swelling of the bitten area.
Summing Up – Honey Bee Farming
Honey bee farming has been evolving over the years. Newer techniques have been introduced and high-quality honey production is made possible.
Farmers are moving from traditional crops to honey bee farming. Honey bee farming requires a great deal of knowledge and expertise to be practiced effectively.
We hope this article could serve as a starting guide for all beginners who would want to venture into honey bee farming and honey processing business.