I guess you’ve reached this Uganda Honey Beekeeping Guide because you’re interested in Honey, Bees, Beekeeping or other Beehive products.
Thanks for visiting… because you’re just a few clicks away to finding answers for some of your most pressing bee keeping business planning queries in Africa.
You’re also more than welcome if you’re just doing some online shopping for wild honey, beeswax, propolis, pollen, royal jelly or other bee keeping products, services & equipment.
But before we proceed to the nuts and bolts of Honey beekeeping in Uganda, let me share with you a few experiences and why we decided to create this Honey Bee Keeping Guide for you.
I’m sitting at Fairway Hotel Kampala, attending a business meeting and issues are getting hot… after about half an hour, the the two parties finally reach some sort of compromise.
To congratulate ourselves, each of us and our foreign investor friends makes an order for a drink, and I carefully watch, as everyone requests for Spiced Tea with Honey. Not ready to follow the crowd, I attempt to break monotony and request for House Coffee with ordinary Sugar….
Why is everyone taking Honey, instead of our usual Sugar…?
After a busy week.., we’re driving back to Sheraton Hotel Kampala to drop a foreign investor friend, I’m asked to look for wild honey, which should be ready to be taken the next day as the investor checks out of the hotel. I accept enthusiastically, to grant the request.., but deep in my mind I know not where to start from, looking for wild honey in Kampala city,…especially if I must get the quality right…
You want to give your guest the very best, as you know!
I immediately call up a few friends….
…one told me she needs three days to get me quality honey from Masindi
…the second one could get Honey from Gulu or West Nile but the order must needs be made in good time, about a week or so in advance.
Realizing it was becoming no easy job to get the quality African type wild honey I required…
and bearing in mind my less than 24Hours’ deadline…, My search didn’t end there…I turned a little aggressive;
Having a medical background, I quickly figured out that there could be some help for me in the hospital, I went ahead and talked to colleagues, who normally nurse patients with extensive burns. My assertion was that, you cannot apply fermented Honey on a Wound and it heals! I therefore asked them to direct me where they normally buy all that unadulterated honey which they use to dress these wounds… and I was directed to some particular stall in a down town market in Kampala.
At the Kampala Market stall, the vendor is initially very busy and cannot attend to me immediately, but knowing that what I wanted was proving to be a rare commodity in town, I waited patiently for his attention and then asked him if I could buy some wild honey.
The man quickly looked through some empty bottles around his counter, and to my surprise he told me that honey was apparently out of stock, and that I should come back the following day if I wanted good honey.
…. as I wait puzzled… and contemplating what my next move should be…. His workmate signals to him and he checks through a bag inside his shop and amazingly finds one Glass bottle of Wild Honey.
I sighed in relief, as if it were to be given me free…, he told me how lucky I was and gave me the honey bottle, which I rushed immediately to Sheraton Hotel so that my friend could take it before packing his check in luggage for his flight to USA the next day.
After handing over the honey, and now at one of those last working dinners, the second investor in the delegation, who was on strict diet because of a medical condition, also asked me to be kind enough and get him some wild African honey as well….
The long story cut short… I also got him the honey, after a little hassle, and he was extremely grateful to receive it as well.
So, why are all these guys, so enthused about using wild honey…?
Well…, lets take a closer look at this African wild honey, so that next time we ask for Coffee at a business meeting in a Uganda Hotel, we insist on Honey instead of sugar!
|HoneyBees in the African culture
Honey is used for beverage brewing and occasionally served at important cultural ceremonies such as weddings. It is also served to very important guests as sign of high regard. The Maji Maji rebellion used bees as a weapon to defend themselves against the colonialists. Honey was used in Egypt as cosmetics and also for embalming the Egyptians dead pharaohs. Honey was among the tithes and offertory given by the Jews to the Levites in their culture. In some African cultures honey is also used to pay dowry.
Honeybees as a source of food in Uganda
Honey is delicious and nutritious. It is an important food for many people in Uganda. It is consumed whole or mixed other foods as supplement. Among the Langi and Acholi, honey is mixed with simsim and groundnut paste. Bee brood (larvae and pupae) have high nutritional value and are fed to malnourished children. Royal jelly and pollen are consumed for their high protein value.
Honeybees as a source of medicine in Uganda
Bee products such as bee venom, honey and propolis are used for treatment of many conditions following the antibiotic nature of the products. The conditions/diseases treated using bee products include stomach upsets, diarrhea, vomiting, wounds, burns, cough, measles, false teeth, toothaches and fungal infections. It also helps to boost the immunity of people living with HIV/AIDS.
Having understood how important honey & bees are to Business travelers and the fact that some of the best honey in the world can be produced here in Uganda; We’ve created this guide help you start a Successful Honey Bee Keeping Business (Apiculture) in Africa, Uganda.
In this Honeybee keeping Guide, you will also be able to access/buy/order the tasty wild African honey online; right from the comfort of your office desktop , Laptop, or Smart Phone anywhere in the world!
Beekeeping is a comparatively low investment activity which requires only beehives, protective clothing and a few simple tools. It is also a truly sustainable agricultural activity.
The honeybee is a natural resource, land ownership is unnecessary and there is no daily routine of feeding, watering and medicating. Along with the reward of a crop of honey and other useful hive products, the finest fruit, vegetables and seed result from bee pollination:
- Tropical apiculture is relatively cheap. It does not involve mass feeding of bees, because the insects can provide their own food all year round, and there is no over-wintering bee management.
- All the necessary inputs required for beekeeping are available locally. Some may be wasted if bees are not kept, e.g. pollen and nectar from flowering plants.
- Individuals and private organizations such as churches, women’s groups, youth associations and cooperative societies can initiate it with only limited funds.
- Beekeeping is self-reliant and you will not need to depend much on importation of foreign equipment or inputs.
- In many rural localities in Uganda, the technology is available.
- Beekeping improves the ecology. It helps plant reproduction. Bees do not over-graze as other animals do.
- Your honeybees will produce honey, beeswax and propolis and these are non-perishable commodities that you can sell locally or abroad.
- The honeybee provides pollination service. This is an indispensable activity in the food production process.
- The honeybee is the only insect that can be transported from crop to crop.
- You can produce Honey and beeswax in the semi-arid areas of Uganda and Africa that aren’t unsuitable for any other agricultural activity.
- As beekeeper in Africa, you do not need to own much land in order to your keep bees.
Honey, the natural food of the honeybee, has many times been described as man’s sweetest food. The credit must never go to man but to the honeybee, which may be called “the golden insect”. The honeybee is well distributed over the globe except in the severe cold of the polar regions. Africa is blessed with numerous types of wild honeybee.
Bees exist everywhere on the African continent where man lives, from the equatorial evergreen rain-forest to the desert oasis, although they are more numerous in the drier Savannah than in the wetter forest areas. They all produce honey, the nutritious natural food good for both man and animals.
In Uganda, honey production potential is enormous, estimated at 500,000 metric tones per year, but this potential has not yet been fully exploited. The Ugandan Beekeepers Association estimates that only between 800-1200 metric tonnes of honey is produced per year due to current lack of bee-stock.
Traditional methods of bee keeping are still predominant in Uganda where it remains an important seasonal activity in many regions. Rural people have a good knowledge of bees, plants and places favored by bees but hives are usually destroyed and colonies often killed in the process of collecting honey.
Despite the diversity of vegetation suitable for bees in the region, a shortage of bees means that beekeepers are dependent on collecting swarming bee stock. The current shortage is also limiting production of honey and by-products for which there is considerable potential.
Beehives are traditionally constructed from timber, bamboo boruss palms or woven from forest climbers and honey is usually harvested twice a year between March – June and the secondary season in August – October.
In order to produce one pound of honey, the bees must bring in about 75,000 loads of nectar into the hive. This amount of flying is equal to roughly four to six times around the circumference of the earth. To process the gathered nectar into honey, the receiving bee will transfer it to a honeycomb cell. Since the water content is high, about ¾ of it must be removed.
This is accomplished when the bees distribute themselves throughout the hive and start beating their wings. This fanning not only removes excess moisture, but keeps the hive at a constant temperature of 94°F. The lifetime of a worker bee is about six weeks. During that time, she will have made only ½ tsp. of honey.
Six bee products are known. These are honey, beeswax, propolis, pollen, royal jelly or “bee milk”, and bee venom.
Honey is the sweet, viscous Juice usually collected in the largest quantities from the beehive. It is found in cells of the honeybee comb. Matured (ripe) honey is usually found in sealed combs and can be kept indefinitely; unsealed honey is not matured and therefore ferments shortly after it is harvested.
Beeswax is a product of the honeybee. It is produced from the bee’s own body during the warm period of the day. The bee uses wax to build the comb cells in which its brood are reared, and also the cells in which honey and pollen are stored. The bee consumes between 8 and 15 kg of honey to produce one kg of beeswax. The wax is removed or collected by heating. In several countries, beeswax collection is unknown because the people do not know that the local beeswax is good for use. Instead, craftsmen and industrialists import beeswax from Europe. In Vest Africa, honey-tappers throw away the wax. At the same time, big manufacturing firms pressure the government to collect foreign exchange to import the wax, mostly from the United Kingdom and Prance.
Beeswax is rendered from the bee combs after the honey has been removed. In Europe, America and Australia, beeswax extraction has a minor place because only a few combs are harvested. Therefore these continents depend on tropical countries for their raw beeswax.
Beeswax has over 120 industrial uses. It has a ready market both at home and abroad. In 1978, one kilogramme of bleached beeswax cost £ 11.00 in Britain. Suppliers in Europe buy processed or bleached beeswax from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania, and other African countries purchase the same wax from Europe! One African firm spent US$ 400 000 in 1979 alone to purchase beeswax, transportation costs not included.
Propolis is a resinous material collected by bees from leaves and buds of certain trees. It is greenish-black in colour and gummy in consistency. The bees use propolis to fill cracks in their hive, to seal the entrance hole when it is too large, to make the hive watertight, to glue the top bars to the hive body, to strengthen the thin borders of their comb and as an embalming material to cover any dead hive intruder which they cannot remove from the hive.
This hive product has several pharmacological properties; for instance, it is used in preparations to treat some skin diseases, and research on other uses is going forward. It is also marketable abroad.
Pollen, the male reproductive agent of flowering plants, is collected by bees and stored in comb cells. It is fed to the brood in the larval stage. Pollen is collected from beehives by the use of pollen traps. These remove the pollen pellets from the corbicula (pollen baskets) on the hind legs of the foraging bee.
Beekeepers can collect pollen from hives and save it to feed to the bees at times when no plants producing pollen are in flower for the bees to collect and eat directly. In the developed countries, pollen is also used in some expensive dietary supplements, since it is believed to have valuable medicinal properties.
Royal jelly, or “bee milk”, is used by the bees to feed the queen bee and the young larvae less than three days old. It is secreted from the glands of the 5- to 15-day-old worker bee.
Studies show royal jelly to be a good source of Vitamin B. Like pollen, it is thought to have medicinal value and is therefore used in certain expensive preparations. Human consumption in China alone is 100 tonnes annually. China makes royal Jelly chocolate candy and wine, as well as lotions and tonics for therapeutic use.
Bee venom is used by the bees as a defensive weapon to protect their property. Nature provides the honeybee with this venom. Otherwise, insects, some birds and reptiles would not allow them to enjoy the fruit of their labour. The African bee is aggressive and stings painfully, and this serves it well, for otherwise human beings, too, the worst enemies of the insect, would rob them easily.
The venom has two main medical uses: as a desensitizer for those who are allergic to bee stings, and in the treatment of arthritis. It is applied directly or by inject ion.
Terms to learn in your Beekeeping Business
Absconding: This occurs when all honey bees leave the hive or nest.
Apiary: The site where a number of colonized hives are kept.
Apiary hygiene: Is keeping apiary clean.
Apiary inspection: Routine observation of what is going on in and around the apiary.
Apiculture: The science and art of bees and beekeeping
Bark hive: Is a type of traditional or local hive made out of the bark of trees which can be built in a cylindrical or other shape.
Basket hive: Is a woven hive made out of various locally available materials.
Bee bread: Is a product of pollen and honey to make a dough stored as food for the bees.
Bee brood: It includes eggs, larvae and pupa in a comb.
Bee brush: Used to brush off bees from the honey comb during inspection or harvesting.
Bee calendar: Is what happens inside the hive all year round.
Bee Forage: Plants which provide pollen, nectar, honey dew and propolis for the colony.
Bee House: A house specifically designed with holes on the walls that are connected to the hive entrances.
Bee keeper’s calendar: Is a series of activities carried out by a bee keeper during various seasons.
Bee Protective Wear: Used to protect bee keepers from stings and comprises of an overall, bee gloves, bee veil and gum boots.
Bee Smoker: Is a simple device /tool used to generate smoke during hive inspection or harvesting to calm the bees.
Beeswax: Wax produced by honey bees and used to build combs.
Bee Venom: Is a poisonous substance produced by worker and queen bees for defense.
Build-up: Is a season when there are many bee forage plants and the weather is favorable, the colony expands.
Catcher box: Is a small hive with about 4 to 5 frames/bars used to trap passing swarms.
Centrifuge extractor: It is a machine used to extract honey from combs.
Comb: This is a hanging structure built by bees out of beewax used for rearing brood and storing honey and pollen.
Comb Knife: Used to cut off honey comb from a top bar or a local hive.
Dearth: Is a season when not much nectar is being collected due to bad weather and poor forage.
Frame hive: A hive which contains frames e.g. Langstroth, Dadant, and Smith. They all recognize the importance of bee space and use
Hive: This is a man-made container or natural cavity or hollow in a tree/ground modified by man in which a colony lives.
Hive Baiting: This is the act of attracting bees into a hive by using be attractants such as beeswax, propolis or any other suitable material.
Hive Inspection: Opening the hive and observing what is going on inside the hive and also what is going on outside the hive.
Hive Tool: Used to open the hive and loosen the bars or frames that are stuck together with propolis.
Honey: A sweet viscous fluid made by bees from Nectar or honey dew and stored in combs.
Honey Bee Colony: A colony is a group of honey bees living together comprising of a queen, drones and workers.
Honey flow: Is a season when many plants provide nectar and flower at the same time.
Honey processing: Is the getting honey out of the comb.
Honey Refractometer: An instrument used to measure the moisture content of honey.
Modern processing methods: Using equipment (Honey press, Stainless steel tanks etc) to process the honey.
Nector: The sweet fluid secreted by nectarines of plants commonly in flowers that helps attract bees and is the raw material from which honey is made
Propolis: Is a hive product made by bees from resinous substances picked from plants. It is used to seal cracks in the hive and to reduce hive entrance when necessary.
Pollen: Are grains produced by flowers and are used as food for bees.
Royal jelly: Nutritious substance produced by young worker bees to feed the young larvae and queen.
Siting hive: Is placing hives in a suitable place.
Solar wax extractor: Equipment for extracting wax using sunshine.
Top Bar Hive: A design of a hive with bars on top. Top-bar hives are transitional hives between the traditional hives and the frame hives.
Traditional hive: Is a hive which is made out of local materials available in any location e.g. log hive, clay pot hives, gourd hives, bark hives, or woven twigs and mud basket hives.
Watering bees: This is provision of water in an apiary.
Queen Excluder: A device for confining the queen to a particular section of the hive.