How much money can you make keeping commercial honeybees? In this post we will explore the income and costs of beekeeping in the arid and semi-arid areas (ASAL) of Kenya.
Beekeeping involves the managing of bees to obtain their honey, beeswax and other bee products for both food, medicine and income generation. It’s easier to manage than livestock and crop farming for the following reasons.
Benefits of beekeeping?
Is bee keeping a profitable agribusiness idea for you? The following are the benefits or reasons that make bee keeping better than any other farming investment idea.
- Bees produce a variety of very profitable products such as honey, beeswax and propolis (used in medicines) and other products such as royal jelly, pollen, bee venom and bee brood.
- Beekeeping is easy making it one of the best investment ideas for individuals, women’s groups, youth groups, men’s groups, church groups etc.
- You can make a lot of money as a beekeeper without having to own land.
- Beekeeping requires little space and compliments other farm activities by helping the pollination of flowers, plants and crops. Besides, the bees do not compete with livestock for food.
- Beekeeping does not need good soils or water making it the best farming idea in arid areas which consist of over 80% of all land mass in Kenya
- Bees will help to increase the quantity and quality of flowering crops (coffee, papaw, banana, avocado, macadamia, mangoes, etc.)
Which bee products can you sell in Kenya
Honey, beeswax and propolis are the three major products from bee keeping in Kenya. Other worthy exploiting for more cash are royal jelly, pollen, bee venom and bee brood. This post will focus on the three major products
which is the best type of honey to buy in Kenya? Honey is the key product from bee keeping. Honey mostly contains sugars (80-85%) that are easily absorbed by the body. Honey is made from nectar which is a sugary secretion of flowers.
It has a high market value, very profitable and has a high growing demand in the local and export markets. Its demand stems from its many traditional and medicinal uses. The commonly used of honey in Kenya are;
- As a natural sweetener in place of refined sugar for food (cake, chapatti, bread etc.) and drinks (try some in your tea!).
- Medicine to treat coughs, ulcers, wounds and sore throats.
- Traditional food preservative
- An energy food for young, old and sick people
- Making local beer
To earn highest profits in beekeeping in Kenya, extract it and sell refined pure honey in well packaged plastic and glass jars. There are 5 types of honey available in Kenyan markets.
- Crude honey- A mix of ripe and unripe honey mixed with wax, honey comb bees and brood comb. Usually used to brew local beer. It has very high demand in Kenya.
- Semi refined honey- The liquid honey that remain after wax is skimmed off. I may contain some impurities such as wax remains and bee’s legs. Its mostly consumed at home or sold for further refining.
- Refined honey- Marketed as refined pure honey. Its strained to remove any impurities. It’s marketed without adding any other product.
- Chunk honey-this is pure honey that has some comb pieces or chunks added into the jars. Its done to give consumers some confidence that it is natural honey. Because of this reason, chunk honey may fetch prices than refined honey.
- Comb honey – Also known as capped honey. Its honeycombs in white capping’s. Beekeepers cut these caps, add them in small trays and cover them with cling films. It’s the most premium quality honey in Kenya. Its priced per gram and has a huge niche market in Nairobi’s affluent estates.
Beeswax is one of (by)products from beekeeping. It’s the substances that bees use to make their honeycombs.
Though its not highly used in Kenya, It is a valuable raw material in cosmetics, soaps and wood preservation. Besides you can learn to make candles, batiks, shoe polish for sale with additional training.
Propolis is the black sticky plant resin, that the bees collect. They use it as a glue or sealer to cover the insides of the hives or fill in any cracks. The substances is antibiotic and you can use it as medicine. Some people also chew it as chewing gum for throat and chest. Some beekeepers process it into propolis ointment and capsules for sale. Propolis has a huge export market.
How much money can you make in beekeeping in Kenya
Is bee keeping in Kenya profitable? The simple answer is yes. But it will depend on how well you manage your apiary. In this post we will give you simplified costs and benefits analysis for starting and running a commercial bee keeping enterprise. We will compute all the income for selling bee products minus capital and operational costs.
Bee Keeping enterprise analysis assumptions
To give you the gross margin analysis of beekeeping in Kenya we will assume the following assumptions.
You are running a bee farm with 20 colonies using the modern Kenya Top Bar Hives (KTBH) or the Langstroth hives. We will assume a conventional yield per beehive of 20kg of honey per colony. For more realistic figures we will assume that you can achieve an 80% despite the climate change risks. Finally, we assume that you can harvest and sell all semi-refined honey in bulk at a price of Ksh500K per kg.
The Real Incomes for beekeeping in Kenya
To estimate incomes from your bee keeping, we will multiply the harvests and market prices.
Total harvests of raw honey from your 20 hives is 320 kgs assuming a 80% production levels in an year. (80%*20beehives*20kg/beehive)
Your income from selling honey will be Ksh 16000 by selling all your honey at Ksh 500 per kg.
How to start a beekeeping business in Kenya?
What are the costs of starting a 20 hives beekeeping business? You will need Ksh 146,950 to start a 20 hives bee keeping venture. This is your one-time capital expenditure on year one only to set up your apiary. The other costs are some labor costs required to set up your structures. In the section below, we give you the required tools and equipment to start a bee keeping farm.
What are the operating costs of beekeeping in Kenya?
Once you set up your bee farm, your variable expenses from year 2 will go down considerably. In our estimates, you can spend a total of around Ksh 38,200.
These are incurred in inspecting the beehives, harvesting, value addition and possibly transport. That would be once or twice a month so the expense would be manageable.
Gross Margin Analysis for bee keeping in Kenya
How much profits cam you make from bee keeping in Kenya? In our conclusion, we determine this as follows from our apiary. We will use the simplified enterprise analysis of deduction expenses from sales income
(Net income= sales revenue-total costs)
Net Income year one = Ksh160,00- Ksh156 950 = Ksh 3050
Net income from year 2 onwards= Ksh 160,000- Ksh 38200 = Ksh 121,800
How can you make more income as a beekeeper?
To make more money as a beekeeper in Kenya, you can consider 3 top ideas, diversification, value addition and reputation.
- Diversification-Venture into harvesting and selling other bee products oat the following prevailing market prices.
|Bee product||Minimum Price (Ksh/kg)|
Pollination services is an innovative bee keeping ideas. You will operate a business where you can lease your beehives for 21 days to fruit farmers for pollination. A simple internet research indicate you can make up to Ksh 5000 for this service.
- Value addition-Process crude honey into pure refined honey and package it into quality plastic and glass jars. Then, label them indicating net weight, name and address of the producer country of origin and the words such as pure honey.
- Reputation- build up a name for supplying honey in the right quality, in the right quantity at the right price on time. You can also buy honey from other bee farmers and market it alongside yours to satisfy all orders.
- Start small- Instead of borrowing loans to start a huge apiary as in this post, start small using traditional bee hives and equipment. But have a business plan on how to expand and shift operations from production only to honey refining, packaging and labeling.
Which beekeeping equipment and tools do you need?
The following is a list of the equipment and tools you will need to start and run a profitable bee keeping farm.
- Beehives – for housing bees. A hive is the most important piece of beekeeping equipment. For ample production invest in a modern bee hive like the Kenya Top Bar Hives (KTBH) or the Langstroth hives. A modern one goes for around Ksh 6500
- Bee-suit – A beekeeper is personal protective suit to protect you from bee stinging and gives you comfort as you work under heat or cold weather. A complete suit consists of the following items:
- Veil: for covering head and face and giving protection from stings.
- Overall: for covering the rest of the body
- Gloves: for covering the hands
- Gumboots for covering the feet.
- Elastic bands to seal your ankles and wrists from the bees
- Smoker – the bee smoker is used to control the bees and keep them from becoming aggressive when they are handled.
- Catcher box- For transferring bees from one place to another – it’s a miniature hive.
- Hive tool- For lifting top bars. The hive tool can be improvised by using a strong knife.
- Bee brush- For brushing bees from combs when harvesting honey or at any other time you need to remove bees. You can improvise by using a feather.
- Other items for if you wish to diversify your beekeeping business are Bee pollen collector, queen excluder, propolis trap etc.
Where do you buy quality bee keeping equipment in Kenya? There are many suppliers of quality beehives and other equipment for you. Lucky for you, you can enjoy convenience by ordering them online from Jumia on the button below. They do home deliveries and sell items as a package saving you some money.