Hey everyone, today, I’m going to focus on the importance of beekeeping as an engagement worth venturing into. In the world over, the beekeeping sector is a multi million dollar industry with investment and development levels so advanced, it staggers one’s imagination.
It is very important for the continued growth of the sector that we examine facts explaining why beekeeping is important. By looking at these factors, we are setting up beekeeping beginners for success by providing them with the right drive and motive.
Without wasting any more time lets dive into it.
Beekeeping is a source of employment and income generation opportunity
The beekeeping value chain is rich in opportunities. The need for vast array of actors to make the value chain efficient is in itself proof of the opportunities available.
These opportunities are available to various categories of actors including:
Equipment manufacturers and dealers
The practice of beekeeping requires a range of specialized equipment which demand very specific skills for manufacture.
Once, manufactured, dealers in the same equipment utilize the principles of commerce to avail these equipments to beekeepers worldwide.
Bee equipment manufacture and trade in itself is a multi million dollar industry driven by all levels of players from small scale artisans to massive companies
Beekeeping is a lucrative adventure with those involved producing high value products for the market. Honey is the major product targeted by most beekeepers and business operators.
However other bee products like beeswax, bee pollen, propolis, royal jelly and bee venom have proven to be more lucrative because of their low supply and overwhelming demand. This presents massive opportunity for the discerning beekeeper.
These are large scale traders that buy raw or semi refined bee products directly from farmers and subject them to processing and refining to add value and enhance marketability.
Most of these are established businesses with solid economic, infrastructural, technological and human resource capacities to develop world-class products from basic bee products.
Most of these companies have wide brand presence e.g. in supermarket shelves and other mass market and even online market outlets
Demand for manpower in such businesses create employment opportunities for youths ad other vulnerable groups.
This category of players provide essential services to the sector. They include transporters, financial services, insurance, extension and technical support services, training and consultancy.
Some service providers may operate within established government structures and others from private sector based institutions
In developed economies like Australia, the USA, and Europe, bee breeding is well-established business model in their beekeeping practice.
This is because over the years a lot of scientific research has gone into selecting and improving bee colonies for enhanced productivity. It is for this reason that beekeepers in such jurisdictions get higher yields generally in their beekeeping ventures.
Beekeepers therefore have to buy bees (nuclear colonies) from these breeders to start and sustain their beekeeping
In areas where large scale mono culture is practiced, either for horticultural or leguminous crops, the massive scale of flowering creates an acute demand for pollination services.
For non-self pollinating, pollinator reliant crops, local pollinator populations may not be able to effectively pollinate the crops given the massive scale of floral availability. Framers are under such circumstances forced to source for hire pollination services
This has led to the practice of migratory beekeeping with beekeepers moving their hives from one farm to another and getting paid for the pollination services their bees are providing.
These are scientists affiliated to universities and research institutions.
They test and refine the applications of scientific principles to the solution of challenges facing the beekeeping sector or to the improvement of the practice of beekeeping and bee health
Experts and activists from various institutions, both public and private that join to develop guidelines which regulate and enhance growth in the beekeeping sector.
Policy makers operate within well-defined jurisdictions which can be national, regional, continental or global.
We keep bees for food security and environmental sustainability
Pollination services enhance food security, when crops are efficiently pollinated, they have proper seed set; fruit size and shape, and yields are generally higher. Research also points out that efficiently pollinated crops are higher in nutrient content.
Bee pollination in the natural forest ecosystem leads to crossbreeding of plants and trees of the same species leading to hybrid vigor. This conserves floral biodiversity and saves disappearing genes which is a core component of environmental sustainability.
When trees thrive and species are conserved from extinction because of pollination services, they act as carbon sink that removes and excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere therefore contributing to reduction in global warming.
Propagation of bee plants (Api-forestry)
Bees require floral resources of nectar and pollen which they collect and stock in their hives as their food store. Beekeepers are thus mindful to intentionally and consistently propagate plants and trees that are of value to the bees in terms of nectar and pollen provision,
This practices aids and directly contributes to forest cover expansion on the planet.
Empowerment of rural communities
Beekeeping is ideally a rural based activity given the vast resources available for the practice. Vulnerable rural communities can thus leverage the practice and enhance their economic capacity.
This therefore provide economic empowerment which in turn boosts access to food and other livelihood requirements.
Beekeeping is also ideal in providing alternative livelihood to communities whose traditional livelihood has been diminished either by the impacts of climate change or land degradation.
We keep bees to utilize land that is not suitable for arable agriculture
Some land may be unsuitable for arable agriculture and possibly livestock farming. Beekeeping provides a sound alternative as an activity that will thrive in any environment provided water and flowers are available.
It provides opportunity for profiting off land that would otherwise be considered unprofitable.
Keeping bees in forests also offer means of utilizing forests and profiting from it without felling trees which a sustainable and very viable option in forest utilization.
We keep bees to provide raw materials for alternative healthcare
Bee products are valued for their therapeutic properties and hence medicinal value.
The branch of alternative medicine that deals with therapeutic application of bee products to alleviate health challenges is technically referred to as apitherapy.
This branch of alternative medicine is fairly well-developed in many countries. The apitherapy practice in China for example is highly developed and is valued even higher than the conventional medicine ranking only second to Chinese traditional medicine.
Research has shown that bee products are efficacious in alleviating symptoms of, and managing non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. Research in the US also found that bee venom is potent in destruction of HIV virus.
We keep bees to provide raw materials for beauty and cosmetic products
Bee products can be processed into high value beauty and cosmetic products. Creams, lotions, shampoos, lip balms and face masks made from bee products are extremely effective in skin and hair care.
Anti aging bee venom face mask is very effective at knocking off age from one’s facial appearance
We keep bees to boost pollinator population
There is a global decline in pollinator populations worsened by bee colony collapse disorder (CCD) in the US and Europe.
As strategy to mitigate this trend and arrest the situation before it precipitates into a global crisis, it is incumbent each of us as global citizens to make a positive contribution towards it.
Honey bees and sting-less bees form more than 60% of global pollinator populations. When we keep bee colonies in an area, crops in that particular area benefit from pollination.
The keeping of the honey bees, technically referred to as apiculture, and the keeping of sting sting-less referred to the same way as melliponiculture are key strategies in boosting pollinator populations.
Beekeeping thus gives us an open pathway to make positive contribution towards solving one of the possible impending hindrances to feeding the expanding global population.
As I conclude, these are just but some reasons why we need to keep bees. Th benefits are huge both to the economic welfare of those involved and to the environmental sustainability of our planet.
Avenues for involvement are numerous and the value chain has something for everyone.
Kindly feel free to comment on the post and to let me know if there is something I can help you with in particular.