Good quality honey can fetch a high price. Any farmer who has the good fortune and skill to obtain honey should have no trouble selling it. Generally, if you present honey to the consumer in a clean, unspoiled condition, the price will be higher. In order for beekeepers to maximize their profit from beekeeping, they ought to aim for the highest grade of honey. Honey in Kenya is sold in the following grades:
Crude honey. This is a mixture of ripe and unripe honey. At harvesting time, the wax, honeycomb, and bee-and-brood comb are all mixed into one container. This container is often an old tin. Crude honey is used mainly for brewing local beer because quality requirements are not very strict. The demand for this type of honey is high.
Semi-refined honey. Semi-refined honey is generally the liquid honey that remains when you skim wax off the top of crude honey. Honey sinks to the bottom as it is heavier. Semi refined honey still contains particles of wax and other debris such as bees' legs. It can be stored for the beekeeper's own use or it can be refined further and packed for sale. It gains a higher price than crude honey.
Refined honey. Refined honey is clean. You strain it to remove all particles of beeswax and other materials. Remember: refined honey is unchanged, it is only strained. Nothing else is added so it is still the pure honey that bees made in the hive.
Chunk honey. Whole combs of capped honey can be harvested carefully from the beehive. You can cut up pieces of the comb and put them into jars of liquid honey. This gives the consumer a feeling that the honey is real and not adulterated with sugar. Chunk honey can fetch a higher price than refined honey.
Comb honey. Honeycombs of capped honey that have a nice white capping can be cut up, placed on small trays, and covered with cling film. These are very marketable in Kenya and command a very high price in the market, particularly in affluent Nairobi suburbs and other towns. This product should be the ultimate aim of all beekeepers with access to these markets. This product is priced per gram.
Wax combs should not be thrown away upon completion of harvesting honey because of its value. Local villages use beeswax in very limited ways, e.g., for shoe repairs by cobblers. Some companies such as Bata (Shoe Company) and Kiwi (Shoe Polish Company) purchase beeswax, which they often obtain from miti ni dawa (honey beer) brewers. You leave the wax after brewing beer from crude honey, which contains honeycombs. Baraka Agricultural College buys clean beeswax cakes from other buyers.
Export markets for propolis exist. People use it as medicine, selling it as capsule, ointment, or tincture (dissolved). You can chew propolis raw as medicine for the throat. It is on sale in this form in very limited quantities in Nairobi. When harvesting, simply scrape off propolis and store in an airtight container. You can also try making medicine from propolis, e.g., propolis ointment.
Note:It is important to avoid smoking the honey directly or excessively because it can damage honey flavor. After harvesting, replace the first bar and cover hive with the lid. Make a final smoke before you leave to keep bees away from the harvester and to prevent them from following him/her all the way home. Remember to move through a bushy area first to get rid of bees.
Honey processing is the action of preparing honey to improve its shelf life and meet the customer's and consumer's preferences. The main methods of honey processing are: Honey straining:
This is done soon after harvesting before honey granulates because granulation makes straining difficult. Staining must be carried out in a room free from robber bees. On large or small scale honey production honey straining can be done using (1) a honey press, (2) a filter tank, (3) a bamboo honey strainer, (4) a perforated plastic basin.
How to do (using a honey press):
Put the straining bag into the honey press
Break combs of honey into small pieces and put them into the straining bag
Close the honey press and press combs with the use of either the screw- type honey press or jack-type honey press
Collect the strained honey in a plastic container that is placed under honey press opening
Leave the strained honey in the container to settle and allow beewax particles to float on top
Skim out floating beeswax particles in order to obtain clean honey to be packed for marketing or home consumption.
Note: It is advisable not to be alone when harvesting honey or carrying out any bee operations. Ensure to have another person. Two smokers in operation are also better than one to ensure a continuous supply of smoke for subduing bees. Sufficient smoke is very important when working aggressive bees.
How to refine honey
Remove wax capping from combs using a knife to cut off the capping.
Break combs into smaller particles and sieve them through a net or nylon fabric into a plastic container. The sieving process can take a few days. Cover sieved honey with a lid and keep in a dry room away from bees.
One can place the bucket in sunshine for two or three hours to heat honey gently so it flows freely.
Warning: NEVER boil honey as this destroys its flavor and medicinal characteristics!
Once honey has drained through the cloth and settled at the bottom of the bucket (usually after 2 days or so), use a jug to pour it into honey jars for sale. For wax remaining behind on the straining cloth, squeeze out any remaining honey and process leftover wax.
Packaging and Marketing
Package honey in either plastic or glass jars, which should be clean and dry. Labeling of honey must include:
Net weight of honey
Name and address of producer
Country of origin (Kenya)
Description of contents, e.g., 'pure honey'
Note: Metal paint tins (mikebe ya rangi) are not good to be used as a package container. Honey is acidic and can eat the metal and spoil the honey.
- Author: 11
- Publication Date: 2014-06-20 12:00:00
- Article Category: Bee Keeping
- Number of Views: 33