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Beekeeping

Some people get into beekeeping just for the fun of it.  While others are looking to make a profit.  Honey, beeswax, pollen, and propolis can be harvested from beehives and sold.  So, how profitable is beekeeping? And what is the beekeeping profit per hive?

Beekeeping as a project has many risks, there are no shortcuts. There are no assurances of colonization. Therefore are you considering beekeeping commercially, be sure that this is a long-term investment. As the time between hive colonization & in-between harvests ranges often times in months

However as compared to other agricultural ventures, the costs associated to having a hive are few, consuming less time & effort as compared to let’s say having a cow for milk production

COSTS

Your start up costs will vary depending on how many hives you keep.

There is the initial investment that must be made in the beginning. Beehives, protective clothing, and extraction equipment/tools will be required.  There are various types of beehives in Kenya, such a log hive, KTBH (Kenya Top Bar Hive) & langstroth beehive. And each type of hive comes at a different price. The range of beehives in Kenya is from 4000-7000 depending on the type of hive & used wood used.

The best type of beehive to use for profit is the Langstroth hive.  That’s because they can be supered to yield higher amounts of honey (adding additional honey boxes), they are as well easier to manage and harvest from compared to KTBH and log hives.

Other variables Once you set up would include, cost of bees if you decide to not wait on nature, transport, inspection/hive management cost for labor if outsourced, method of honey refinement dictates which equipment to purchase as well (If you have a lot of hives you’ll probably want to use a honey extractor to harvest honey. Honey extractors work much faster than the crush and strain method with a honey/wax press).

Other costs you need to consider are supplies for selling your newly refined batch of honey, such as jars and labels

For a detailed read on the whole process on how to start beekeeping, Find our guide HERE

PROFIT

Now that startup costs are out of the way, let’s discuss how profitable beekeeping really is.  We will do this by looking at beekeeping profit per hive. 

NOTE: Keep in mind that you likely won’t harvest honey the first few months.  A new bee colony takes some time to get established and to produce excess honey.  The amount of honey a colony produces can also vary year to year depending on the weather, nectar flow in your area, and the health of the colony.

Honey

A strong, healthy colony can produce 10-15 of honey in a harvest. However, that’s when all the conditions are just right. Depending as well of the type of beehive & even the number of honey boxes (supers) Raw honey that’s not processed usually sells for between Ksh 450-550 per KG

500gms of Kenyan Honey

Natural, local Kenyan honey can sell for much more than the stuff in our local supermarkets.  It depends on your location, but it’s safe to say that you can charge Ksh 700-1000 per KG 

Beeswax

Beeswax is another product created by bees that can be harvested and sold. It has a lot of uses such as cosmetics, skin care, crafts, furniture polish, health products, and more. 

Foundation beewax sheets

You can make beeswax products like candles yourself to sell, or you can process and sell the beeswax as is at approximately Kshs 700 per KG. wax can also be used by a beekeeper in the hive, if not sold

Pollen

Two other things that can be harvested from beehives are pollen and propolis. Bees collect pollen from flowers and bring them back to the hive. If you install a pollen trap on your hive you can harvest and sell pollen.  Used as a health supplement, pollen usually sells for 3500-4500 per kg. 

Propolis

Propolis is a resin like substance made by bees to fill holes and cracks in the hive.  Like pollen, propolis is a health supplement that is harvested by using a propolis trap.  Propolis chunks are sold for 800 per kg, while propolis extract sells for 2000 per gram  

A piece of raw propolis

Pollination & colonies for profit

Other beekeepers practice migratory beekeeping, in which they travel around the country pollinating various crops. The cost of renting bees for pollination varies depending on the season and area, but in general, farmers will pay around Kshs 5500 per hive for a few weeks.

person collecting honey
Photo by Arthur Brognoli on Pexels.com

Another way to make some profit from beekeeping is the sale of colonies to other beekeepers who maybe just got new hives and require a colony. A colony usually goes anywhere between 2500-4500 depending on season as well as type of bees. Stingless bees generally for pollination will be slightly more expensive than the regular stinging bees in Kenya ranging from 6500 per colony

Bee Venom

Much simpler than it may sound, extracting bee venom safely without any harm to the bees is done through an electric current. A sheet placed at the bottom of the hive has a current passed through it, when this happens bees stick out their stingers and deposit some venom (usually 0.3mg per bee). This is then collected and stored

Price of bee venom is about 9000 per gm.

Royal Jelly

Its secreted to feed the young larvae & an adult queen. Royal jelly is always fed directly to the queen or the larvae as it is secreted; it is not stored. This is why it has not been a traditional beekeeping product. The only situation in which harvesting becomes feasible is during queen rearing. Royal jelly is collected from each individual queen cell.  A well-managed hive during a season of 5–6 months can produce approximately 500 g of royal jelly

 a) A 3-day old queen larva floating in royal jelly. The cell is almost ready for harvesting.
b) A 5-day old queen larva in a newly sealed cell just before pupation. Not much royal jelly is left.

Therefore, only in queen cells is the harvest of royal jelly practical.

The differentiation between queen and worker bees is related to feeding during the larval stages. All female eggs can produce a queen bee, but this occurs only when, during the whole development of the larvae and particularly the first four days, they are cared for and fed “like a queen. When royal jelly is fed to worker larvae, it is fed directly to them, and they consume it as it is produced, while the cells of queen larvae are “stocked” with royal jelly much faster than the larvae can consume it

1KG of royal Jelly can fetch 35,000

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