18-year-old student makes money from bees and honey

What you need to know:

Five years ago, Frederick Magezi could not join secondary school because his parents lacked money for fees. With inspiration from a family friend and mentorship from an experienced beekeeper, he started beekeeping and has now gone back to school.

Four years ago, Fredrick Magezi, 18-year-old student, started a bee-keeping business in Ndangaro village, Rumuri parish, Kicwamba Sub-county in Rubirizi District. Now, after overcoming a few challenges along the way, he has started to reap profits.

He started with 25 locally made beehives but now he has 96. He earns up to Shs780,000 per year, part of which he uses to pay school fees at Kirugu SS and also care for his siblings. He completed O-Level last year.

Starting out
“We were four when we started. After some time, two withdrew and sold their beehives to me,” he says. “I am running the business with my brother.”

He explains that an apiary is a business one can start without a lot of capital and land and its market is guaranteed. However, Magezi has met challenges such as migration of bees from hives to other places, which leads to empty hives meaning no harvest.

Another is that an apiary requires an isolated place, which may not always be possible. Beekeeping is also labour intensive and the bees need a lot of care so as to get good harvests.

During processing, Magezi uses nets to filter honey from wax, which does not meet recommended standards. He harvests four 20-litre jerrycans twice a year.

One jerrycan is between Shs200,000 and Shs230,000 at the farm gate but on the market it costs Shs300,000. A kilogramme of unprocessed honey costs Shs15,000 but after processing, it goes up to Shs 30,000.

“I was inspired by George Sunday, a family friend, who has been in the business for almost 20 years,” Magezi says. “I also have special thanks to Mr Simon Tuner of Malaika Honey for equipping me with the skills and knowledge. I am sure I will study up to university using the money from honey harvests.”