The increasing appreciation of healthy eating has seen the demand for products that are purely organic like honey go up.
Honey is a sweet, viscous food substance produced by bees and some related insects. This product is now being substituted for sugar because of its natural ingredients.
Also honey is a common natural healing agent that has been used for centuries as a topical antibiotic on wounds and acne.
It can also be used to cure sore throats, colds, and other common ailments due to these properties.
Other types of honey with antibacterial properties are eucalyptus and linden honey.
Because of this there is a huge market demand for honey in Uganda, the region and internationally-a venture if invested in, one would walk smiling to the bank.
Mr Brian Ssenoga Kimuli, the owner of Mihoney, a company that produces and markets honey and other hive products, started this business three years ago.
Mr Kimuli shares that in order to do this business has to have passion. “It’s easy to keep a dog than keeping bees because they sting. But with passion, you can domesticate and earn from them.”
Starting this kind of business depends on how big you want it to be but many times starting small will take you places. You could start by getting supplies from the people who keep the bees for honey.
Then refine, package, brand and market or you can start by keeping the bees for production of honey.
Keeping bees will also give you other products such as bees wax used for making candles and propolis which offer numerous health benefits.
Ideally, according to Uganda Investment Authority’s assessment, investing in this business on a large scale requires you to have a starting capital of about $7,345 (Shs26.6 million).
This will involve purchasing three acres of land where to place the bee hives, 50 bee hives, a centrifuge machine, smoker pumps, protective wears, buckets and filtering sieves plus hive tools.
With this kind of investment, one will be assured of a revenue potential of at least $10,400 (Shs37 million) per year and a profit margin of 73 per cent. The expected payback period is seven months.
In case you buy honey in bulk from the producers, process, pack and brand it for the market, you would need a starting capital of about Shs155,000.
With this, Mr Kimuli got one bee-hive, bought air-tight an bucket for storing honey and other items such as a smoker, hive tool and a bee brush.
Three years on, Mr Kimuli has been able to acquire 77 bee-hives each at Shs100,000 (Shs7.7 million) worth of investment and produces 1,155 kilogrammes of honey per season.
At farm-gate price, Mr Kimuli sells each kilogramme at Shs8,000, a figure that is translated into about Shs9 million every season. So annually, with two-seasons in the agricultural calendar, he gets about Shs18 million.
Ideally the bee hives are opened after the bees have been smoked out using a smoke pump, honeycombs are pressed by hand.
Honey is separated from the wax using pressing machines to produce better quality honey. Honey from a honeycomb is extracted, warmed, strained and bottled.
He says that in this kind of Business, there is no insurance and one has to depend so much on the environment and climate change.
“During the dry season, the plants don’t flower. This means the bees will not be able to collect nectar which is translated into honey and even the little that is left is used as their own food,” he shares.
Since there is no policy to regulate the sector. The policy currently in draft form, has created a gap for people to adulterate the products.
One must be passionate about bees to benefit from this business in addition to acquiring more knowledge about them.
When you invest in this business, don’t stop at the honey alone. You can also make other products such as bees wax, propolis, royal jelly, pollen, bee venom and pollination –because a large number of flowering crops are pollinated by honey bees.