Beekeeping is the maintenance of bee colonies, commonly in man-made hives in order to collect their honey and other products that the hive produces.
Such production includes beeswax, propolis, flower pollen, bee pollen, and royal jelly, to pollinate crops, or to produce bees for sale to other beekeepers.
Such location where bees are kept is called an apiary or bee yard.
The major reason for such act is for commercial purpose, and so many countries have thrived in bee business especially China and Argentina.
For many African beekeepers the potential to create a significant livelihood from selling honey remains out of reach, as a result of factors facing commodity producers.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, recently announced that the Federal Government had decided to exploit the beekeeping sector to help reduce poverty across the country.
Despite government’s intervention in the beekeeping sector, operators in the industry are still practising subsistence system, which does not encourage many people into the business talk more of export purpose.
Most African communities were practising beekeeping long before they cultivated coffee, cotton or cocoa. Honey has been produced by traditional communities for generations, using local low-cost methods including the grass hive method, cutting and felling trees into cylindrical logs style, and the barrel hive system to meet local needs.
The same honey, which is sold by poor beekeepers in village markets with almost no further processing if well utilized, can eventually be an international commodity as the global trade in honey has exceeded 300,000 tonnes in 2005
It is interesting that most of modern designs for beekeeping are simple. When bees build their hives, they usually leave and enter from the same place in the hive. The space inside the beehive is usually separated so bees can build their combs and this provide a very good support for the bees and combs
Also, several communicating boxes can be built one above another. In this situation, the queen can be hidden in the lowest brood section of the hive. Therefore, the upper chambers might be separated only for workers. It helps to make hive inspections and many others managing procedures quite possible and also help to turn beekeeping into full scale industry.
It is no wonder that modern beekeeping methods have overwhelmed traditional ones. They are cheaper and safer for bees and human. Moreover, they can provide more honey as bees find them more comfortable to build combs and produce honey.
In the indigenous method, the bees are first killed or made to escape from the hive with the help of smoke when the bees are at rest during night. This method has many drawbacks and it is not suitable for commercial large-scale production of honey.
For beekeeping to be transformed from a subsistence activity to a business, the primary producer must have access to a market chain that is reliable and efficient.
The beekeepers should ensure better access to market information and build reliable and secure trading relations between producers and buyers.
Government should as a matter of urgency improve transport and communication infrastructure for easy and better accessibility.