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bee keeping

bee keeping


The word APIS implies BEE, while CULTURE means domestication. Therefore APICULTURE means domestication of bees. Apiculture is a branch of agriculture that deals with the rearing of bees and its allied products (wax, propolis, pollen, royal jelly and venom).

Bee rearing is done in a man made box called hives which are kept in a location called Apiary. There are two types of hives, the TOP BAR and the LANGSTROTH; there exist the third type called the CATCHER- this is a smaller version of the ones mentioned earlier. The construction of the hives must meet certain required specification and dimensions that are very critical in making the hives homely for the bees during and after colonization of the apiary. Non compliance, usually results in certain problems in future and may be late in correcting.

The practice of apiculture has no gender or age restriction, everybody except those that are seriously allergic to stings can keep bees. Those allergic can even practice only that they reinforce and protect themselves by wearing protective clothing. Apiculture is a very interesting and profitable venture that can be combined with other ventures or jobs with ease.


There are various species in the world. The social ones lives in colony
Those that produce honey belong to two families. Honey bees (Apinae) and the Stingless bees (Meliponinae). Apinae has only one genus- Apis mellifera which has the greatest economic importance. Apis mellifera in Africa are smaller to those in Europe.

There are two main races of African honey bees: Apis mellifera Adansonaii – this predominates West Africa and Apis mellifera Scutellata- this dominates the Eastern Africa.


Bees flourish very well in places with sufficient pollen, nectar shelter and water to fulfill their needs of the colony. They are found in varying climatic environments, but have difficulties in the rain forests where humidity is high which causes them to take shelter most of the time.


Bees are very vital in food production and overall agricultural production in that they assist in plants pollination. Pollination is a vital aspect in the reproduction process in flowering plants. It has been proved that yield of crops are higher in farms where bees are cultivated.


Capacity building: to provide employment and income.
Apitherapic and Aromatherapic reason: To access various health benefits that are associated with the use of honey and the allied products through bee keeping.
Minimal cost of maintenance unlike other agriculture practice.

All materials necessary for bee keeping and maintenance are available locally; the practice does not rely solely on imported equipments as there is local version of all.

Products generated from bee keeping are non-perishable and are marketable locally and can also be exported.

Bees are the only insects that can be moved from crop to crop or farm to farm without spread of diseases.

Bees help in pollination.

Areas considered useless to agricultural purposes are suitable for apiculture.

Apiculturist does not necessarily need to own a land.


HONEY: Processed nectar and juices collected from plants by bees. The quality, taste color, aroma and viscosity is serious factor in market value for honey and these depend on the type of plants/fruits the bees visited.
USES: are used as food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and drinks.

WAX: Secretion from the glands of the workers, which becomes harden upon exposure to air.
USES: Cosmetics, polish making, candle, protective coatings pharmaceuticals and textiles.

POLLEN: The male productive organs used as food by bees.
USE: Nutritional or dietary supplements in man due to its high potent medicinal and nutritional properties. It is very rich in vitamins.

PROPOLIS: Resinous materials collected by bees from certain plants to fill cracks in their combs or seal entrance holes when too large, glue comb bars to the hives body; it is also used in making the hives water-tight to embalm any dead hive-intruders that cannot be removed from the hives
USES: Medicinal preparation, pharmaceuticals, derma treatments and tuning of musical instruments

ROYAL JELLY: Food made available to the queen and young bees, very rich in vitamins. It is the substance that prolong the queen life and enhances prolific fertility.
USES: Dietary supplements in man.

VENOM: Defensive substances used by bees in protecting their colonies.
USES: Desensitizer for those that are allergic to bee’s stings and in the treatment of arthritis. Applied directly or as injectables.


1. THE QUEEN: Always one in a colony main duty is in reproduction – that is laying of eggs. Does not usually sting unless it discovers the presence of another queen within the colony. A queen lays between 1500-2500 eggs per day and can live up to five years.

2. THE WORKERS. Are usually female bees that sting and are always many in a colony. They are responsible for all the works carried out in the colony and may later graduate to work outside. They mostly work themselves to death and live five to six weeks. Do not lay eggs.

3. THE DRONES: They are male bees, not many in the colony. Assist the queen in reproduction activities, do not sting have a life span of five to six weeks and buzz more than the workers.

attracted by things that comes of their own like honey, wax and other juice materials. Colonies could be got without baiting depending on certain event of the year.

Colonies must always be inspected to ensure that no unwanted intruders enter the hives to destabilize the colonies. Unwanted intruders includes : Insects,

Activities in bees keeping are spread throughout the years and are season dependent. Some activities are best carried out at certain time of the season hence the basic knowledge of Geography is highly essential.

An Apiculturist must also acquire some rudimentary knowledge of Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Medicine and Carpentry for his use. This knowledge may not be clearly obvious but in practice must be evident. There must be no absentee Apiculturist like in other practice, his attention is needed in taking decisions.


The following steps are critical in getting started in Apiculture:

FEAR: People believe that bees are enemies simply because they sting. An average person believes that bees can sting one to death. This is not so. Bees keeping is like any other venture, there is no venture without its attendant risk and hazards; risk and hazards in bees keeping is low compared to other venture. Even the sting that most people are scared of have been proved to be beneficial to man has there are evidences that points the fact that people who keep bees live longer and healthier .


Without acquiring the basic skill in bees keeping an intending Apiculturist will be wasting his time and money doing trial and error methods. Apiculture has been scientifically developed in the modern day and the labour in this area of agriculture is a skilled one and is scarce thereby commanding a higher labour wage.


The site chosen as an Apiary must to some extent meet the following conditions:
1. near to food source- flowering plants
2. Easily accessible by good roads
3. Must be far away from smoke and fire, not easily within the reach of unfriendly neighbours and vandals.
4. Pest free zones or pest can be control by the use of engine oil and other materials in container at the base of stands and also the use of guards. WARNING: Chemicals are dangerous to both the bees and human beings so avoid the use of chemicals.
5. Must be far from residential area and polluted areas
6. Nearness to water source or you make provision for water
7. Location must be fairly dry, not swampy not damp and must be penetratable by sun light
8. Must be in a safe place, secured, to avoid frequent attack on people when they are disturbed and to avoid litigation and civil liability.

INSTALLATION: This is the placement and positioning of hives at identified and prepared spots.

BAITING: This is the act of luring the bees into the hives. Bees are naturally Rats, Lizards and Rabbits. Also guide against intrusion by Moth, as they could come in to lay eggs that grow into larva, make sure you destroy these anytime you see them in your farm.

This is the process of cutting and removing for processing from the hives only ripe combs . The water content level of a ripe honey according to research and analysis is not more than 19% and can be so for a very long time provided that necessary precautions that are adequate are made for the preservation, comb must be immediately placed in clean air tight containers to prevent contamination and absorbing water from the atmosphere. Plastic or galvanized containers are better. Harvesting is better done when relative humidity is low.

Harvested combs are better to be processed immediately after sorting and removal of extraneous materials.
The processing involved the pressing out the honey from the comb and the equipment used depend on the Apiculturist and the type of hives in use. With a top bar hives, a simple presser that is manually operated is employed while a centrifugal extractor is used in langstroth type of hives. There are automated extractors in more advance country. Processing environment must be clean with low or no humidity and enclosed to prevent a situation whereby bees are attracted and thereby being provoked to sting. The extracted honey must be kept in clean plastic or glass container if the honey is not to be packaged for immediate sale. The residue comb must be further processed for the extraction of WAX which could be through a solar extractor or by heating in hot water. Honey should not be stored in a metallic container because of its acidic nature, and corrodes the metal easily.

1.Bee Suit: A special protective dress with veil to ward away bees from attacking during harvesting or cleaning of the hives.
5.Smokers: Equipment stuffed with flints and other combustible organic materials to make the bee weak during harvesting
6.Knife: For trimming the mature comb from the brood.
7.A simple presser: for honey extraction.
8.Storage Tank: For transporting harvested honey for further processing.

Nigeria has a large population and the enlightenment and education of the people to arouse their interest to consume honey is gradually on the increase. There is a supply gap with the result that honey is being imported. The imported honey is synthetic and of inferior quality. In some cases, focus is being placed on other allied products like the wax, propolis, pollen and the venom which equally fetch the producers’ reasonable income. There is market for all the products locally and abroad but one needs to source information about various end users of bee products.

There are various sources of fund for agricultural projects, these ranges from personal savings, Co-operative Societies and Banks. Most agricultural projects have gestation periods of more than one year and the tenor of finance sources currently is at most 1 year. Caution must be exercised in taking loan to avoid mismatch. Obtaining loans from the conventional Banks should be avoided because of the high interest rate and the stringent conditions usually attached.

Nigerian Agricultural,Co-operative & Rural Development Bank Limited.

It is mandatory that adequate documentation of all expenses and activities are kept. Log must be kept of all visits to the farm, work done, who carried out what , wages, volume of honey harvested per hives, sales, labour, capital per items purchased. These are necessary for the profit and loss determination.

HONEY: Due to its sterile nature and high concentration of sugar that prevents the growth of microbes , this makes honey to be highly potent in inhibiting micro organism growth and hence its great antibiotic property. Honey also contains enzymes that produces hydrogen peroxide, which is highly acidic in nature, kill bacteria and also inhibit streptococcus pyrogenes ( bacteria that resides at the back of the throat); this gives honey its anti-bacterial property. Honey is also used in derma treatments , internal disorders and allergic treatment.

POLLEN: Contain high value of protein, minerals, trace elements and amino acid ( NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS)

PROPOLIS: Ingredients in cosmetic industry, scientifically proven to kill bacteria, production of toothpaste, soap and ointment.


Honey has been proven to render relieve in the following ailments in man : Migraine, Constipation, Toning of nerves, Anemia, Rough skin, Abscess & Boil, Bed sores, Bed wetting, Chesty cough, Cold, Cramps, Diarrhea, Twitching of eye, Laxative, Burns, Inflammation of skin, Respiratory ailment, fatique, Influenza, Throat, Nose & Ear infection, Muscular aches, Hearth problems, Insulin shock for diabetes or Kidney and Liver problems.


Traditionally, Bee Venom is applied to treat all kinds of Rheumatism and Arthritis.
Method of Application are 1.Through natural bee stings. 2.Subcutaneuos injection. 3. Made into ointment. 4. Made into tablet form.

PRESERVATION OF VENOM : Are refrigerated inside a dark colored bottle.

PRESENTATION FOR MARKET : a).Whole bee extract (b).Pure liquid venom. (c) Injectible solution. (d) Dry Crystalline form.


* Improves calcium fixation in bones, curing anemia and anorexia resulting from nutritional deficiency.

*Improves food assimilation, chronic and infective intestinal disorders

*High antibacterial effects, well known remedy for colds, mouth or bronchial irritation and infection.

*Benefit to skin and wound healing.

*Benefit to eye disorders, cures conjunctivitis and various affliction of the cornea if applied directly into the eye.

*Normalise kidney function, reduces fever and help insomnia.


Are used for ingredients in ointments production, medicines, soap and polishes. Are also useful as supplements in poultry feeds , used in the treatment of cracked hooves of animals and polishes for wood finishing.

150g bee wax
500ml food oil
3ml of herbal oil or local medicinal oil.

180g bee wax
100g paraffin wax
100g Aloe Vera
300ml pure water
10g borax

150g bee wax
500ml food oil plus camphor
Aloe Vera
Eucalyptus oil.

50g Soap
1 litre of water boiled for 20 minutes
2 teaspoon bee wax
4 tablespoon of honey
5ml of perfume.

200g bee wax
100g Turpentine
50g food oil.

170g bee wax
30g Anoline (vaseline)
500ml food oil
50g honey perfumed with herbal oil.

50g bee wax
250ml food oil
50g honey perfumed with herbal oil.

50g bee wax
40g Pitch black
60g food oil
40g ferrous sulphate
5ml Thyme oil.

Product sell well locally, fast and easy to make

1 Litre of honey
4 Litre of water
6 Teaspoon of dry yeast ( Large quantity leaves a strong yeasty flavoured beer)

* Left to ferment in dark , warm place for 5 - 7 days

* Prepare to experiment in small batches till you get your desired taste

*Drink between 1-2 days

* Drink can be revitalize by adding more honey but only when it becomes flat


Pure liquid honey mix with cream are used in wound dressing.
10 parts of bee wax, 3 parts of propolis extract, 10% ethanol and 2 parts honey.

METHOD: Melt wax, mix the propolis and finally the honey.

INDICATION : Sore and open wounds, mouth infection (paradontosis), Skin damage through radiation, poisoning or acid burns.

NOTE : For further assistance on Hives construction and other technical issues do not hesitate to call SEGUN MOYIB on 08023261696 or E-Mail atmos1963@yahoo,com

* We also assist in all initial set up of BEE KEEPING up to harvesting stage at moderate charges

Published: 2007-12-23

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