Bee-Keeping in Nigeria – The Unexplored Gold Mind In Nigeria.

Bee-Keeping in Nigeria – The Unexplored Gold Mind In Nigeria. @WPP Jr(Part 1)

A barrel of crude oil retail at $55.17 while a barrel of honey at the international market retail for $1,755.00

Nigerians honey Market alone is worth N3 billion annually, that exclude West Africa/Central Africa.

 “The market for beekeeping and honey production is huge. From cosmetics, medicine, confectioneries, and the pharmaceutical industries, to religious groups, the demand for organic honey and other bi-products is growing.” DANIEL ESSIET.

There is so much money in honey and pollination services. Apiculture, the business of bee-keeping and honey production, is a goldmine.

There is a growing demand for organic honey and other products from the bee family. Clientele comprises mostly operators in the cosmetics, medicine, confectioneries and the pharmaceutical industries, including religious groups, with huge local and global demand for honey and its by-products, offers beekeeping tremendous opportunity for rural farmers to contribute to the fight against poverty and hunger. The business has huge employment and revenue earning capacity.

Economic Potential Of Honey Production

1.      Honey has established itself as the best alternative to synthesized sugar as such it is priced high in the international market with a high demand on the product. There exists a large export market for honey on the global stage; with the European Union accounting for approximately 20-25% of the world’s consumption.

2.      The other two major consumers of honey in the world are China and the USA. China accounts for approximately 15% of global consumption and the USA for 10%.

The EU is also the major market for beeswax in the world. The USA is the second largest importer, accounting for 17% of beeswax imports. Japan is the third largest importer, accounting for 5% of the imports.

The global foreign exchange earnings from honey production have grown well over that of crude oil production, with a barrel of crude oil put at $53.83 while a barrel of honey is estimated at the international market for $1,544.55

3.     This shows clearly that the returns realizable from honey export, due to the enormous demand on the product, far out way what the nation is realizing from crude oil.  

The beekeeping industry when fully developed can create thousands of jobs and a dozen new products and services as government seeks to diversify the non-traditional agricultural sector. Honeybees are quite valuable as they contribute to the successes of agriculture and industry. Nigeria’s potential for local honey production is high and is a major export commodity.

The development of beekeeping in Nigeria is important to meet local demand and contribute to the global demand for apiary products. It has capacity to replace oil as the nation’s foreign exchange earner.  Nigerian’s need to recognized its huge potential and explore this unexplored avenue of sure revenue generation and a great return for investment.

For instance, despite the increasing demand for honey and other bee products, such as bee wax (for making cosmetics, antiseptics, and for floor, furniture and shoe polish), bee cake, bee pollen, royal jelly, propolis, and bee bread, among others, local beekeepers are finding it difficult to meet the demand for original, pure honey and other bee products.

The value of beekeeping to the economy is far greater than the value of the honey, which is harvested. This is because honeybees are the most efficient pollinators for several crops and environmentally important non-crop plants. Experts say that honeybees contribute an estimated $200 billion to the global economy through crop pollination and production of honey, beeswax and other bee products. In sub-Saharan Africa, beekeeping is important as a source of food, employment, environmental conservation and diversification of the export base.

Also, compared to other agricultural enterprises such as fish farming, poultry and livestock, beekeeping is a relatively low-cost, low labour intensive enterprise that does not require vast tracts of land. This makes it viable for women, youth and other disadvantaged groups.

(Part 2)

Nigeria: How to Start Bee Farming - Farmer

INTERVIEW By Vincent A. Yusuf and Christy Ajibade

Pastor Gideon Dagunduro, is an award-winning bee farmer with farms spread across Abuja and Ilorin who has also helped in establishing farms for many people across Nigeria. As a staff of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Gwagwalada, he organises training for people who seek to go into bee farming. In this interview, he says bee farming offers huge potentials. Excerpts:

As a specialist in bee farming, how can someone who doesn't have an idea start this business?

I usually tell people who want to venture into bee farming business to seek knowledge and go for training. Because it is better to teach a person how to catch fish than give him fish to eat. I have been in the business of bee keeping for the past 17-18 years and I always advise people that it's not all about going into bee keeping. After acquiring knowledge, you must make up your mind on the type of business to venture into because the knowledge gained would guide you on how to go about it.

How much is needed to start bee farming?

Bee farming is one of the agricultural enterprises that you can start with little capital; as low as N50, 000 but also as high as N5 million or N10 million. The equipment in bee-keeping, like bee hives, is produced locally to help reduce the cost.

How many hectares of land are required to start bee farming?

You don't need to own land before you start bee farming. You can hire a piece of land or partner with fruit farmers that have citrus and mango trees because you are doing them a favour by putting your hives there. As we know, bees are agents of pollination and by putting your hives there - the bees will pollinate the fruits trees, which will assist the farmers to double their harvests.

What are the basic rules to successful bee farming?

The first thing is to have basic knowledge because you don't give what you don't have. Good management of bees is also paramount; you need to manage your pairing very well. In the aspect of hives construction, it must be to the target and finally, you must have a very good location.

I usually tell people there are conditions for sitting the hives; you just don't put it anywhere. It must not be close to the road side because of noise and then one must avoid areas where pesticides or insecticides are used.

The box must not be placed on a mashing ground; it must be a little bit dry. Don't put them on swampy areas because the bees have their body temperature. So you have to be very careful on that. Again, one must note that when sitting the hives, it must be close to the source of their food source. Don't put them in the desert because bees travel as far as three kilometres to get their food.

But we are so blessed in Nigeria with food plants. We have about two hundred plants that can give bees food, unlike the temperate countries that don't have some of these plants.

It must be close to source of water because bees drink water too. The food of bees depends on nectar and pollen and as a bee farmer; you must ensure that your hives are close to where there is nectar and pollen.

What quantity of honey can a farmer get from a bee hive?

You can get up to 10-15 litres of honey per hive.

Are there marketing constraints with bee products?

As am talking to you, I have been asked to supply 5,000 litres of honey in Ghana, but I cannot meet the demand. That is why we are trying to bring many people into bee the farming business. I have acquired five different hectares of land and anybody who is interested in the business can apply and pay little amount to keep his box there.

(Part 3)



Honey is the natural sweet substance, produced by honeybees from the nectar of plants or from secretions of living parts of plants, or excretions of plant-sucking insects on the living parts of plants, which the bees collect, transform by combining with specific substances of their own, deposit, dehydrate, store and leave in honeycombs to ripen and mature.

Many species of bees collect nectar which they convert in to honey and store as a food source. However, only bees which live together in large colonies store appreciable quantities of honey. These are bees of the genus Apis and some of the Meliponinae (stingless bees). Bees prepare honey mainly from the nectar of flowers, but other plant saps and honeydew are also used. As each bee sucks the liquid up through its proboscis and into the honey sac, a small amount of enzymes are added and water is evaporated. The enzymes convert sugars in the nectar into different types of sugars - honeys always contain a wide range of sugars, varying according to the nectar source. After the liquid has been placed in the cell of honeycomb, bees continue to process it. The temperature of the hive is usually around 35°C and this temperature together with ventilation produced by fanning bees, causes further evaporation of water from the honey. When the water content is less than 20% the bees seal the cell with a wax capping: the honey is now considered 'ripe' and will not ferment.

Honey consists of a mixture of sugars, mostly glucose and fructose. In addition to water (usually 17-20%) it also contains very small amounts of other substances, including minerals, vitamins, proteins and amino acids. A very minor, but important component of most honey is pollen.



In 2010, China was the most significant global producer, producing 398,000 Metric tons, or 26% of the global share by volume. Within Africa, Ethiopia is the largest producer of honey. From 2005-2010, Ethiopian honey production increased 26% from 36,000 metric tons to 45,300 metric tons. Bee keeping is an untapped wealth in Nigeria, due to the various economic benefits that could be derived from bee keeping are yet to be fully utilized. It could be practice as a part time activity or a full time professional business. Honey bees lay a vital and indispensable role in agriculture. Bee keeping is renowned because of honey yield from the practice of bee keeping. The honey consists of 80% simple sugars (fructose and sucrose) that are readily absorbed by the body. The color of honey varies from colorless to dark or light dark. The taste, flavor and sweetness depends on the source of nectar (floral visited by the worker bees).


·         Honey is the earliest sweetener.
·         It is used in the treatment of wounds.
·         It is used to treat cough and other ailments.
·         It has preventive and curative effect for several ailments such as measles, gastro-intestinal disturbances etc.
·         It is a good trade commodity.


Beeswax – it’s an important by product from bee keeping after the honey has been pressed from the comb and the comb melted down. There is ready local and international market for beeswax.

Uses of Beeswax

Used in manufacturing of candles, softening of leather, polishes, cosmetics, crayons, shaving creams( to prevent drying) and other cream soap etc.
It is used in the preparation of medicine
Used in manufacturing of foundation sheets for hives.
Floor polishing.
Leather waterproof
Grafting wax for horticultural purposes

Bee pollen - is the principal source of protein, fat amino acid, minerals and vitamins required for growth and development of bees. They could be collected with pollen traps placed at the flight entrance of the hive to collect the pollen pellets. Average of 100 – 250 gm of pollens could bee gathered per colony per day.

Uses of Bee pollens

Pollens can be eating
It can be used to feed bees solely or mixed with honey (bee bread) in dearth periods
It is used in producing royal jelly and cosmetics 

Propolis- This is a resin collected from plants by bees. The most prominent color is black, but it could also be red, green, yellow or ink. It is sticky and glues.

Uses of propolis

It is used in the preparation of antibiotics e.g. Penicilin
It has therapeutic characteristics


Apiculture is the science of keeping honey bee, harvesting, processing and marketing of the honey and other by products. An apiary is the place where hives are kept for a successful beekeeping practice, the practitioner or apiculturist must observe the following:

Keep hives in lonely place from noise or physical disturbance
Visit his apiary at least once in a week
Clean hives that have not been colonized
Bait the hives frequently
Do not irritate your bee colonies with noise, chemical etc.

The following must be of cognizance when setting up an apiary:

Location of site

1.                       Source of nectar must be within 1km radius. This is to conserve bee energy and increase honey production.

2.                      Source of drinking water must be close to the site. When not resent alternative source should be provided.

3.                      Waterlogged site should be avoided

4.                      Avoid sitting apiary in termite-infested areas

Beekeeping Equipment

This includes:

Beehive – is a simple box capped by a lid to keep the rain out. Inside the boxes, frames of beeswax hang down from a revetment along the inside edge of the hive.


These different sizes are in height only and they can be used for different purposes. Many beekeepers use just one size of box; others use the different sizes on one hive. Displayed bellow is the different parts of a hive.

Frames – Inside the boxes hang frames. Frames may be wooden or plastic. Wooden frames are literally just that – frames of wood in which a sheet of beeswax stamped with hexagonal shapes is held. The wax is kept in place with thin wire that crosses the frames
Hive Box

Hive stand - The entire hive sits on a hive stand. Beehives should not be set directly on the ground. The main reason is that damp will get into the hive, and this must not be allowed to happen. A hive stand, therefore, is anything that keeps the hive off the ground. This can be built out of wood, cinder blocks or even placed on a stump.

Clothing - This is a subject very important to be of note. Whether you can tolerate stings or not, it is never pleasant to feel a small gang of bees crawling down your back: on the inside! A sting on the end of, or up, the nose or in the eye is very unpleasant.

Bee suit
A decent bee suit with the veil incorporate is most preferred. Buy one with a hood that unzips and that can be thrown back when you’ve finished. Most of these suits have hoops in the hood that keep the veil away from your face and, if they don’t, don’t buy one. An excellent lightweight suits is most suitable for hot weather areas

Bee Veil - Always wear a veil when visiting bees. Bees love to explore and your ears, mouth and nose are very tempting.
Bee Gloves - Thick long gloves will protect your hands
Hive Tool - Necessity in handling bees. Used in removing the cover, cleaning off burr comb, propolis etc. It is especially helpful in removing frames.
Bee Brush - Used to gently remove bees from undesired areas.


The time to harvest honey depends on the flowering period of the forage plants and the extent of the honey flow. It should be noted that when harvesting honey, only the comb with capped honey should be harvested. Combs with brood should not be harvested.
After harvesting the honey combs, the honey is extracted using floating, pressing, or centrifuging method.
The extracted honey can be stored in glass jar or plastic buckets with well sealed lids or air tight container to prevent fermentation of the honey. Honey can start to ferment during storage if the water content is greater than 19%.


The honey bee Apis mellifera has been reported to harbor multiple viruses and other disease causing organisms. Some of the diseases of honey bee are

European foul brood and America foul brood
Chalk brood

Insect such as wax moth, small hive beetle, ants and termites.