Decide on the objective
Be clear on why you would like to try and do bee farming. For honey, for pollination, for colony production and sale? this can assist you collect needed data and skills.
Feasibility assessment for beekeeping
Honeybees want food (nectar and pollen) to survive, grow, multiply, and make honey that comes from various plants i.e. agricultural/ horticultural/ ornamental/ wild (herbs, shrubs/bushes, trees). Thus, the provision of bee floral resources throughout different months of the year could be a primary demand for bee farming. In different words, the success of a beekeeping enterprise depends on the provision of floral resources that are in bloom through different months of the year. A good amount of honey is harvested if a region has an abundance of honey/ bee plants among the various bees i.e. ideally among five-hundred-meter radius of the bee colony).
Thus, it’s necessary to assess whether or not a given area is sweet for beekeeping or not. If not, it’s necessary to ask if something be done to make it appropriate for farming. Feasibility assessment is conducted to search out whether:
- An area has enough bee flora among foraging range of bees to feed on and gather honey
- Environment (climate/weather) is appropriate for bee keeping
- Whether it’s safe from bee predators
- Market for honey and different bee product
- Can something be done to make it appropriate for beekeeping?
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Identify the potential site for beekeeping/ apiary placement
Based on the practicable assessment, choose a site that has many bee florae inside the hunting range of bees, free from bee predators and enemies for putting bee colonies. If the chosen site doesn’t have bee’s flora throughout the year, establish areas that have enough bee flora so the bee colonies will migrate throughout all the slack seasons or feed the colonies sugar and pollen supplements. Migration of bee colonies is particularly necessary when keeping with Apis mellifera bees.
Receive adequate knowledge and training to develop skills in beekeeping
The general bee management training includes sessions on seasonal bee management; bee pests and diseases, and their diagnosis and control; bee forage management and pollination; harvesting, processing, and value addition of honey and bee products; and the establishment of enterprise development and marketing etc.
The beekeeping enterprise development and management training has sessions on product development, and value addition—processing, packaging, branding and labeling, certification, advertising and marketing, accounting and book keeping, and business plan development, and enterprise linkages with public and private institutions for strengthening the honey enterprise.
If the objective is to develop bee colonies for sale, then it is necessary to get training on queen rearing and colony multiplication. Similarly, if the objective is to manage bees for pollination, it is important to get training accordingly.
Identify institutions/ resource persons providing support in beekeeping
Identify institutions/ resource persons providing support in beekeeping in your area and participate in bee management and bee enterprise development training/s. There are different training packages.
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Procure key beekeeping equipment
This includes beehives, bee veils, swarm bags, queen gates, hive tools, feeders, and smokers. Some materials such as feeders, smokers, and swarm bags can be made at home using local material. Learn to make these. The training resource persons can tell you how to make these pieces of equipment at home. It is better to buy beehives from a skilled carpenter as the beehives have specific dimensions. A small mistake in hive dimension, particularly bee space, can result in bees making uneven and joint combs which makes honey harvesting a problem.
Carry out regular colony inspection and management
Regularly examine colonies to grasp the standing of colony development, disease condition, presence of queen, brood—eggs, larvae and pupae, and quantity of food—pollen and nectar stores. This may assist you decide what seasonal colony management practices ought to be undertaken. You’ll be able to examine the colonies through 2 methods: 1) from outside, without opening the hives and 2) from inside, by opening the hives.
Colony inspection from outside
Colony examination from outside is distributed so as to get an idea of the colony standing without opening the hive. Examination from outside will give the subsequent info about bee colony:
- A larger variety of incoming and outgoing bees, and a bigger variety of pollen carrying foragers at the hive entrance signal the colony is healthy and robust
- Larvae, pupae, and new emerged bees scattered at or before the doorway signal the colony is diseased
- Bee excreta and black patches seen round the entrance signal the colony is abnormal or pathological
- Plenty of dead bees with the proboscis out scattered at or before of the doorway signal the colony is poisoned
- Crawling bees that are unable to fly signal bee malady
- A sizable number of bees on the wing and fighting with one another and/or dead may be a signal of robbing
- Clustering bees at the hive entrance and a far smaller variety of bees flying to forage could signal absconding or swarming.
- A sizable number of drones and erratic bee movement could signal parturition workers or a queen less colony.
If the above symptoms are seen, it’s necessary to examine the colony by opening the hive and take applicable management steps to unravel the matter like a shot.
Colony inspection from inside through opening the hive
As part of good hive management practice, a colony is inspected from the inside after it is inspected from the outside to reconfirm its status, its abnormalities, and its strengths. Such an inspection should be done per the set objectives, starting from the collection of necessary materials. The following observations shall be made while performing an inspection of a colony from the inside:
- Condition of queen
- Colony strength–number of adult bees, and amount of brood–eggs, larvae, and pupae
- Presence of bee diseases and pests in the colony
- Symptoms of swarming and absconding
- Need for supplementing comb foundation sheets
- Storage of food (honey and pollen)
- Cleanliness and hygiene
- Need of scrapping/removing unnecessary/deformed/extra combs built by the bees.
Perform any management practices required to maintain colony health. Manage bee colonies as taught in the training.
Honey harvesting, packaging, labeling, and selling
During the honey flow season when there are plenty of flowers in bloom i.e. spring, harvest honey using a honey extractor. Pack honey in clean glass, stainless steel, or food grade bottles, label the bottles and sell directly to your consumer or through a shop owner/middle man.
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