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Honey is the natural sweet substance, produced by honeybees from the nectar of plants or from secretions of living parts of plants, or excretions of plant-sucking insects on the living parts of plants, which the bees collect, transform by combining with specific substances of their own, deposit, dehydrate, store and leave in honeycombs to ripen and mature.
Many species of bees collect nectar which they convert in to honey and store as a food source. However, only bees which live together in large colonies store appreciable quantities of honey. These are bees of the genus Apis and some of the Meliponinae (stingless bees). Bees prepare honey mainly from the nectar of flowers, but other plant saps and honeydew are also used. As each bee sucks the liquid up through its proboscis and into the honey sac, a small amount of enzymes are added and water is evaporated. The enzymes convert sugars in the nectar into different types of sugars - honeys always contain a wide range of sugars, varying according to the nectar source. After the liquid has been placed in the cell of honeycomb, bees continue to process it. The temperature of the hive is usually around 35°C and this temperature together with ventilation produced by fanning bees, causes further evaporation of water from the honey. When the water content is less than 20% the bees seal the cell with a wax capping: the honey is now considered 'ripe' and will not ferment.
Honey consists of a mixture of sugars, mostly glucose and fructose. In addition to water (usually 17-20%) it also contains very small amounts of other substances, including minerals, vitamins, proteins and amino acids. A very minor, but important component of most honey is pollen.
PRODUCTION OF HONEY
In 2010, China was the most significant global producer, producing 398,000 Metric tons, or 26% of the global share by volume. Within Africa, Ethiopia is the largest producer of honey. From 2005-2010, Ethiopian honey production increased 26% from 36,000 metric tons to 45,300 metric tons. Bee keeping is an untapped wealth in Nigeria, due to the various economic benefits that could be derived from bee keeping are yet to be fully utilized. It could be practice as a part time activity or a full time professional business. Honey bees lay a vital and indispensable role in agriculture. Bee keeping is renowned because of honey yield from the practice of bee keeping. The honey consists of 80% simple sugars (fructose and sucrose) that are readily absorbed by the body. The color of honey varies from colorless to dark or light dark. The taste, flavor and sweetness depends on the source of nectar (floral visited by the worker bees).
IMPORTANCE OF HONEY
BY PRODUCT FROM BEE KEEPING
Beeswax – it’s an important by product from bee keeping after the honey has been pressed from the comb and the comb melted down. There is ready local and international market for beeswax.
Uses of Beeswax
Bee pollen - is the principal source of protein, fat amino acid, minerals and vitamins required for growth and development of bees. They could be collected with pollen traps placed at the flight entrance of the hive to collect the pollen pellets. Average of 100 – 250 gm of pollens could bee gathered per colony per day.
Uses of Bee pollens
Propolis- This is a resin collected from plants by bees. The most prominent color is black, but it could also be red, green, yellow or ink. It is sticky and glues.
Uses of propolis
THE ACT OF BEEKEEPING
Apiculture is the science of keeping honey bee, harvesting, processing and marketing of the honey and other by products. An apiary is the place where hives are kept for a successful beekeeping practice, the practitioner or apiculturist must observe the following:
SETTING UP AN APIARY
The following must be of cognizance when setting up an apiary:
Location of site
I. Source of nectar must be within 1km radius. This is to conserve bee energy and increase honey production.
II. Source of drinking water must be close to the site. When not resent alternative source should be provided.
III. Waterlogged site should be avoided
IV. Avoid sitting apiary in termite-infested areas
These different sizes are in height only and they can be used for different purposes. Many beekeepers use just one size of box; others use the different sizes on one hive. Displayed bellow is the different parts of a hive.
Frames – Inside the boxes hang frames. Frames may be wooden or plastic. Wooden frames are literally just that – frames of wood in which a sheet of beeswax stamped with hexagonal shapes is held. The wax is kept in place with thin wire that crosses the frames
Hive stand - The entire hive sits on a hive stand. Beehives should not be set directly on the ground. The main reason is that damp will get into the hive, and this must not be allowed to happen. A hive stand, therefore, is anything that keeps the hive off the ground. This can be built out of wood, cinder blocks or even placed on a stump.
A decent bee suit with the veil incorporate is most preferred. Buy one with a hood that unzips and that can be thrown back when you’ve finished. Most of these suits have hoops in the hood that keep the veil away from your face and, if they don’t, don’t buy one. An excellent lightweight suits is most suitable for hot weather areas
Bee Veil - Always wear a veil when visiting bees. Bees love to explore and your ears, mouth and nose are very tempting.
Bee Gloves - Thick long gloves will protect your hands
Hive Tool - Necessity in handling bees. Used in removing the cover, cleaning off burr comb, propolis etc. It is especially helpful in removing frames.
Bee Brush - Used to gently remove bees from undesired areas.
HARVESTING AND PROCESSING THE HONEY
The time to harvest honey depends on the flowering period of the forage plants and the extent of the honey flow. It should be noted that when harvesting honey, only the comb with capped honey should be harvested. Combs with brood should not be harvested.
After harvesting the honey combs, the honey is extracted using floating, pressing, or centrifuging method.
The extracted honey can be stored in glass jar or plastic buckets with well sealed lids or air tight container to prevent fermentation of the honey. Honey can start to ferment during storage if the water content is greater than 19%.
DISEASES AND PEST
The honey bee Apis mellifera has been reported to harbor multiple viruses and other disease causing organisms. Some of the diseases of honey bee are
Insect such as wax moth, small hive beetle, ants and termites
ECONOMIC POTENTIAL OF HONEY PRODUCTION
Honey has established itself as the best alternative to synthesized sugar as such it is priced high in the international market with a high demand on the product. There exists a large export market for honey on the global stage; with the European Union accounting for approximately 20-25% of the world’s consumption. In 2007, consumption amounted to 310 thousand tones. The other two major consumers of honey in the world are China and the USA. China accounts for approximately 15% of global consumption and the USA for 10%.
The EU is also the major market for beeswax in the world, accounting for a third of global imports in 2006. The USA is the second largest importer, accounting for 17% of beeswax imports. Japan is the third largest importer, accounting for 5% of the imports.
The global foreign exchange earnings from honey production have grown well over that of crude oil production, with a barrel of crude oil put at $101 while a barrel of honey is estimated at the international market for $1,539 (2013). This shows clearly that the returns realizable from honey export, due to the enormous demand on the product, far out way what the nation is realizing from crude oil.
For more information on setting up an Apiary and honey production contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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