From Honey to Money

From Honey to Money

Did you know that the beekeeping and honey business in Africa has huge potentials?

Honey is the most popular natural sweetener in the world and the global trade in bee products is worth millions of dollars every year. Due to its diverse use, the worldwide consumption of honey is so huge that supply can barely cope with demand.

Africa consumes more than three times the amount of honey it produces. Apart from Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania which produce most of the continent’s honey, other large markets (like Nigeria and South Africa) have a lot of unmet demand for bee products.

Beekeeping is an ideal home-based and low-capital business for African entrepreneurs. This article explores the amazing world of the honey bee and all the lucrative business opportunities it has to offer…
What are bees and why are they so important?

Bees are flying insects popular for their role in the production of honey. However, not all bees produce honey. As you will find out later in this article, honey is just one of many lucrative products made by bees.

Bee products are used in various foods and also enjoy extensive use in several industries including medicine, food processing, industrial manufacturing and natural healing.

beekeeping and honey 1Honey bees are social by nature and often live together in large, very organized and sophisticated communities known as ‘colonies’.

A colony of honey bees may have up to 100,000 bees that are divided into three main groups (known as ‘castes’).

The ‘queen bee’ lays all the eggs (which ensures the continued existence of the colony), the ‘workers’ do all the work (cleaning, finding food etc.) while the drones are fertile males who mate with the queen.

So, back to why bees are important to us.

Bees are naturally attracted to flowers because of a sweet substance (called ‘nectar’) that they like to feed on, and as a result, produce honey and several other products from nectar.

In addition to honey, bees are EXTREMELY important in the pollination of plants. This simply means that without bees, most plants would hardly be able to produce any fruits.

For thousands of years, honey, beeswax and other bee products were harvested from bees living in the wild using very crude and unsustainable techniques.

However, beekeeping (or apiculture) has become a popular modern practice for commercial farmers and hobbyists who manage bee colonies in order to harvest their honey and other products. (photo credit:
How to make money from beekeeping in Africa – Products and Market opportunities

The value of global trade in honey and other bee products is over $600 million every year. Most people seem to think honey is the only valuable product bees make.

Well, you’ll be amazed to know that the honey bee produces up to six different high-demand products used in a range of industries from food processing to medicine. We shall take a quick look at these products and their lucrative potentials in the African market.

beekeeping and honey 2Honey is the sweet tasting juice (food) produced by honey bees, popular for its taste and flavor. Due to its natural sweetness and chemical properties, it is preferred over processed sugars and other sweeteners used in baking, beverages and foods.

In medicine, honey is used as a sweetening agent for children’s drugs and the treatment of sore throat, cough, hay fever and burns.

It is also used to produce cleansers, lotions and creams in the cosmetic industry and used as a nutritional supplement for children, athletes and people suffering from diabetes. (photo credit:

Other applications of honey are in animal production (where it is an ingredient in animal feed, and used to increase milk production in dairy cows).

Honey is also used in chemical industries where it is used to produce mice and rat repellent compounds.

Beeswax is a wax material produced from the honeybee’s body. Most people who keep bees (especially in Africa) are unaware of the economic benefits of beeswax and often throw it away after harvesting honey from bee hives.

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