For many, beekeeping starts as a hobby. It doesn’t take them long, however, to realize what a fascinating and fulfilling career it can be. Beekeeping isn’t just about collecting honey; it’s about getting to know your bees, their behaviors, and their response to the natural environment around them. How rewarding would it be to parlay your passion into a career?
What are the steps to start a beekeeping business?
Once you’re ready to start your beekeeping business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your beekeeping business is sued.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your beekeeping business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- Set up business accounting. Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
- Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
- Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
- Define your brand. Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
- Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
You’ll have two different types of customers – those that purchase honey, and those that purchase beeswax products. When first starting out, individual sales will be your bread and butter. As you make a name for yourself within the community, you’ll want to target larger customers. Restaurants and health food stores have the ability to purchase your products in bulk, making the sales process easier.
Your beekeeping business will earn a profit through the sale of honey and other bee-related products. Depending on their location and demand, some beekeepers also rent out their bees for commercial crop pollination.
Siting an apiary for best results
An apiary should not be close to public amenities such as schools and homes to avoid attacks. It is recommended that beehives should be installed at least 400 metres from these facilities.
Worker bees die after they attack and this significantly depletes the colony. An apiary should be fenced off and labeled to minimize instances of attacks and accidents that result from intrusion Whereas bees are hardy insects that can thrive in various environments, the apiary should not be in a marshy zone.
Harvesting of honey from bees is normally done after one year after the beehive has been set. The second harvesting can then be done about 8 months after the first one. After the second harvesting of beehive (honey), the subsequent harvests can be done after every four month. After harvesting honey, you can now sell it to the market.
The advantages of bee farming include:
- It requires a small piece of land.
- It requires small amount of money to start.
- It requires minimal labour force.
- It has more than ten income generating products (some of them include pollen, propolis, royal jelly, bee colonies, bee venom, and bee brood).
- It is believed to possess some medicinal value.
- Bees are flowers pollinators hence assist in fertilization of plants.
Main challenges in production of honey
- The farmers lack adequate skills on managing bees and handling hive products.
- Inadequate training for both farmers and extension staff.
- Limited access to appropriate bee-keeping equipment.
- An underdeveloped marketing system of hive products both locally and internationally due to problems of quality and marketing organisations.
- Lack of adequate and intense research on of the existing bee-keeping technologies, equipment, honey bee and product utilisation.
- Low prioritization of bee-keeping in relation to other enterprises in the wider Agricultural sector.