The honey production business in Nigeria is a venture that requires little capital, coupled with good potentials for any small-scale entrepreneur to grow into a large enterprise.
Honey, and its by-product, beeswax are essential ingredients in many skin care, food, medicinal and industrial goods. The value of this natural product grows as more people become aware of its health and industrial benefits.
In Nigeria, the current domestic consumption rate of honey is over a whopping 380,000 tonnes per annum. However, the country produces only about 2,000 tons of beeswax and 16,000 tons of honey in a year. Meanwhile, Nigeria spends over N3 billion on the importation of honey from China, annually.
The honey production business is one of Nigeria’s widely unexploited ventures, despite its multi-million dollar potential. As such, anyone interested in starting up a low capital, yet lucrative agribusiness, should consider this honey production business in Nigeria.
Here is the complete guide on how to start a honey production business in Nigeria.
What Is The Honey Production Business About?
The honey production business involves beekeeping, extracting and then processing honey for its commercial value. It has a lot of economic and health value, making it a very lucrative agribusiness in many places around the world.
Honey is produced from bee species like the Western honey bee (A. mellifera), and the Eastern honey bee (Apis cerana). Ripened nectar gathered in the sac of a bee is deposited into unused honeycomb cells. Other worker bees in the hive add more enzymes and enrich the deposits they ingest. Mature honey is placed back in the combs and capped with a light coating of beeswax.
On average, a bee colony produces about 60-100 pounds of honey every year. Honey farmers take out full honeycombs then extract its content. The honey is then processed through heating and further packaged in bottles. Unpackaged honey is stored in containers and kept in a cool area.
Honey is a hot-selling commodity in the international market, with 1 kg of its raw or organic forms sold at anywhere from $150 and above. In 2017, countries like New Zealand, Spain, China, Ukraine, Germany, Mexico, and more exported about 2.4 billion dollars’ worth of honey.
China is currently the top honey producer and exporter while the US is the highest importer.
Business Opportunities In Honey Production Business Around The World
There are millions of people who use honey as a healthy alternative to sugar in Nigeria and around the world. The daily and different uses of this natural product by so many people generate very high demand.
Consequently, the market for honey has expanded every year, and it keeps growing. This fast-paced growth has created several business opportunities for honey producers.
Some of them are:
1). Beauty Product Market:
Every day, health and beauty lovers invent varying and effective ways to use honey in combatting hair and skin issues. Refined honey is combined with other substances to improve the skin, hair, and nail conditions. It hydrates dry cuticles, deep conditions all hair types, treats acne, and moisturizes & cleanses the skin.
Honey contains a lot of nutrients that slow down or prevent ageing and wrinkles. Products infused with honey include conditioners, moisturizers, full body scrubs, facial cleansers, face masks, lotions, and more.
Numerous beauty companies add honey to their skin and health care products. Honey producers can make significant profits from selling honey to these companies.
2). Medicinal Natural Remedy:
Honey is a centuries-old, natural treatment for many ailments. It is combined with some current medicines to combat bacterial and inflammatory infections. It’s also excellent for dressing wounds, treating burns, and easing a cough. Honey cures and prevents digestive troubles and viral diseases like measles.
The market for honey in the medical industry is a growing one as people are going back to the natural/organic lifestyle. One could earn a steady profit from supplying honey to herb doctors and natural healers on a regular basis.
3). Food Processing And Drink Businesses:
The food and pastry business is perhaps the largest market for honey. The non-sugary, sweetening syrup is an ingredient in the domestic and commercial preparation of meals and drinks. It doubles as a flavor and substitute sweetener.
Food processing companies and homemakers preserve certain drinks and foods with this natural product.
4). Wholesale And Retail Sales:
Honey can be produced and distributed to wholesale and retail outlets within and outside a city or state. Producers can also sell honey on different online stores.
5). Honey Product Exports:
Exporting raw, refined, or organic honey is highly profitable. The global market for this commodity is rapidly growing with China and New Zealand in the lead. One can tap into this business opportunity and earn thousands of dollars on a monthly basis.
6). Industrial Opportunities:
Manufacturers of items like royal jelly, candles, antibiotics, cleaning wax, and salves are a large market for honey producers. A contract to supply raw honey and beeswax to these companies is a great way to earn a constant income from the trade.
Honey producers can breed and keep bees for personal or commercial use. With bees going extinct in most parts of the world, the honey production business will sustain and increase the bee population.
Beekeeping has considerable value in domestic and foreign markets. It is one business that will boost Africa’s economy.
Facts And Benefits Of The Honey Production Business
- The honey production business in Nigeria involves beekeeping and in some cases, bee breeding.
- Producers extract honey with a honey extractor or by crushing the combs.
- Small-scale honey production relies on manual operations. On the other hand, large-scale honey production involves technological and mechanical devices.
- This natural product is an excellent export commodity because of its long shelf life.
- Raw and organic kinds of honey are yellowish and cloudy because of their low pasteurization levels.
- Refined honey has a golden-brown colour.
- Honey production is a year-round venture.
- The wide-range industrial and domestic use of honey broadens its market annually.
- Nigeria has the perfect climatic conditions and environment for breeding and keeping bees.
- Honey production businesses are part-time or full-time venture options.
Types Of The Honey Production Business
1). Organic Honey Production:
Organic honey producers establish beehives in lands free from chemicals. To obtain organic honey, make sure that the bee’s food, flowers, are well kept. Spraying chemicals on plants around a hive can damage the organic content in the nectar. Also, bees are not given antibiotics of any form in this type of production.
After extraction, the product is filtered and pasteurized. However, heating organic honey above the standard 95 degrees pasteurization level causes nutrient loss.
2). Raw Honey Production:
Raw honey is obtained and sold in its pure (raw) state. This type of honey is never heated above 95 degrees. It is extracted, left to settle, filtered and packaged for distribution. Unlike organic honey, beehives don’t require a chemical-free bee farm.
The straining process is a bit lax in raw honey processing. Newly extracted honey is sieved in a mesh cloth to remove inedible particles like dead bees. Still, it is normal to find pieces of beeswax and bee body parts in raw honey.
3). Regular/Refined Honey Production:
Regular honey production is a complex operation involving both manual labour and machines. The production steps in this type of business are extraction, filtering, heating (Pasteurization), and centrifuge.
Regular honey is free from all impurities and has a gold-brown colour caused by overheating. The heat level is above pasteurization levels (95 degrees) and consumes the yeast within the honey. This process makes the honey smooth but destroys some of its vital nutrients.
Some types of regular honey are ultra-filtered for a more refined texture and colour. This process kills off nutritional elements like enzymes, antioxidants, and pollen. Ultra-filtration is discouraged as it encourages the adulteration of honey.
The shelf life of regular honey is longer than other types of honey. An additional benefit of this product is its physically attractive appearance. It is known to draw attention at first glance than raw honey would.
4). Multi-Production Honey Business:
The honey production business in Nigeria, Africa, or anywhere else is not limited to just one type. As the venture grows, it could be expanded to a large-scale production of multiple types of honey production businesses.
Producers can reinvest in better honey processing machines and employ more workers to handle the different types of honey production.
How To Start A Honey Production Business In Nigeria: A Step By Step Guide
1). Business Plan:
The business plan for your honey production business in Nigeria should contain well-researched information. Outline your plans with precise details of your goals, objectives, method of operation, scale of production, marketing strategies, and much more.
The scale of operations and type of honey to be produced determines the amount of capital required to set up and run the business. Small loans from relatives and personal savings can finance a small to medium scale honey production business in Nigeria.
3). Choose A Good Location:
Select a production site only after you have surveyed the area and considered its advantages and problems. For instance, an organic honey producer’s farm has to be located in an area that is free from chemical pollution.
Beehives thrive in quiet and isolated areas with water and food (nectar) source within a 1-kilometre range. The fewer distance bees have to travel to get nectar, the more honey they produce. Also, avoid waterlogged, termite infested areas.
4). Register Your Business And Product:
Register your business with the Corporate Affairs Commission in Nigeria and any beekeeping and honey association in your state.
Furthermore, quality control and health standards are concerns in this business. Therefore, getting the NAFDAC approval on your product is necessary.
5). Bee Variety:
Since wild bees are the main source of honey in Nigeria, the way to get domesticated breeds are from local bee farms or by importing western or eastern hybrids bees from other countries.
6). Pests And Diseases:
Control pests and diseases like:
- Pests; termites, hive beetle, wax moth
- Diseases; Viral and bacterial infections like Chalkbrood and Nosema diseases that affect bees, decreasing the hives and honey production.
7). Raw Materials And Production Materials:
Raw materials and production materials are required at different phases of your farming operation.
- Harvesting Process; before removing the combs, put on protective gloves and a masked helmet. The three methods for driving off bees are the smoking, board separation, and sweeping methods.
- Production Process; Honey production has three main steps. First, there is the extraction process using an extractor or manual crushing. Next, the extracted substance is strained to remove any beeswax particles. The extracted honey is heated to liquefy and purify honey. Remember, organic and raw types of honey do not go through a heavily filtered or heated process like the regular honey. Pasteurization of raw and organic honey production does not exceed 95 degrees.
Hive farms should be visited at least once a week to keep an eye out for pests and diseases that can destroy hives and reduce productivity. Unused hives should be cleaned and baited regularly to attract more bees.
Beeswax or anything containing beeswax baits wild bees. However, these bees might carry diseases that could infect the other hives. Be sure to check and treat infectious bees to prevent infestation.
9). Processing And Packaging:
A honey producer or commercial distributor manages the daily processing of regular honey. Either way, the process involves heating up tanks filled with honey. At 48°C, the crystals within the honey melt and clear out impurities.
Uniquely package and creatively brand your product. It’s important to pay attention to the name, colour, and shape of the package. When the three packaging aspects are well combined, it attracts consumers, which further increases sales.
Note that plastic or glass bottles are the best containers for liquid sweeteners like honey. Plastic gallons and buckets can be used for storing unpackaged honey.
Challenges Of The Honey Production Business in Nigeria
Some of the challenges of honey production business in Nigeria include:
- The industry’s potential has remained untapped because many prospective investors are unaware of the benefits of beekeeping.
- A lot of honey producers find it difficult to increase the quality and production of their honey due to lack of funds and poor technical skills.
- Unstable market price for honey is a key challenge honey producers face.
- Cheap adulterated honey competes with organic/raw honey in foreign and domestic markets.
The honey production business in Nigeria is a venture that can contribute positively to the economic output of the country and improve the lives of people who operate in the industry. Establishing a business in the honey making and beekeeping industry requires some training, decent management skills, and quality control. With these well learnt, a well-managed bee farm can thrive and become a successful business.
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