Whenyou keep bees, it is not only about the honey that you harvest. Beyond sweetness, bees produce other products that can earn a farmer money in addition to the honey.
This is the sticky black and brown material that bees collect from living plants. Bees use it to cover cracks and unwanted openings on a hive. It has a lot of medicinal elements including treating ulcers, viral and bacterial infections.
Propolis has been used in herbal medicine for treating colds, sores, genital herpes and post-surgery mouth pain etc. It is also used by chewing gum manufacturers as a binder. Propolis can be collected by scooping it off the sides of the hives. On average, a hive can produce as much as 300grams per harvest.
Apiary researcher Dr Deborah Ruth Amulen says that collection of venom is in its infancy in Uganda, because of the technicalities involved. Bee venom is secreted by the venom gland and the accessories of worker bee and stored in their poison sac. Bee venom is a unique multi-component complex, which contains a lot of biologically active compounds, including enzymes, peptides and biogenic amines, which have a wide variety of pharmaceutical properties. Venom can only be collected if bees sting and release it. According to an apiary research done by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), modern hives now are equipped with an electrical shock device near the entrance that stimulates the bees to sting.
When shocked, bees sting the surface on which they are walking. In some traps, this may be a glass plate or a thin (0.13 mm thick) plastic membrane, nylon taffeta or silicon rubber under which a collecting plate (preferably made of glass) or absorbent tissue receives the venom. Venom dries rapidly on glass plates and can be scraped off with a razor blade or knife. Absorbent tissue is washed in distilled water to extract the venom, which then should be freeze-dried. Collection on glass is generally easier and produces a product which is easier to store, ship and process. During handling of dry bee venom, protective gloves, glasses and dust masks should be worn to avoid any contact with, or inhalation of the highly concentrated venom.
Beeswax is the second highest valuable bee product after honey. It has various uses, including as making candles and as a base for shoe polish and cosmetics. From every 20kgs of honey harvested, a farmer retrieves around 500grams of beeswax. At the moment, a kilogram of beeswax goes for between sh15,000-sh25,000. Cosmetics companies like Movit buy it.
Extraction of beeswax by Ocloo’s method
According to a Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) apiary expert, this method, suggested by a beekeeper from Accra, Ghana, but it is now widely used in Africa, including Uganda, is published here for its simplicity, cheapness and efficiency. The method employs the sun’s heat to melt down the combs.
– a large container
– a sheet of nylon mosquito mesh
– a strong nylon cord and a needle
– a plastic or polyethylene cover
– Fasten the mosquito mesh over the container with the nylon cord.
– Place honeycombs on the wire mesh so that honey can trickle into the container.
-Cover the honeycombs and container with plastic and secure it fast to the container with another cord.
-Leave the honey and container in the sun. Both honey and wax will seep down into the container. The vex will harden above the honey and can be removed when the money cools down to be decanted and bottled.
Beeswax collected should be moulded in the following manner:
– Use a container with a rounded bottom and a mouth wider than the bottom with a very smooth inner surface. Many plastic containers are suitable.
-Place a small quantity of water (about a tablespoonful) in a cooking pot and put on the fire.
Do not melt beeswax in a dry container. It should not be exposed to fire because it burns easily and can be damaged by too much heat. Melt beeswax and all bee combs outdoors.
-Add all the beeswax and watch carefully as wax melts down. Remove it from the fire immediately after the last lump of wax has melted.
– Pour melted beeswax into the mould and place in a cool, dry place to cool.
– Remove the cakes of beeswax next morning.
-The dark material collected at the bottom can be removed with a knife and can be sold to a shoemaker. The clean raw beeswax is ready for the market.
There is still bee pollen. During their hundreds of visits to flowers,
bees collect a lot of pollen. They then keep this in the hives as part
of their food. It can be harvested from the hives and then processed
for human usage. It contains high protein levels, it is a proven
anti-biotic, anti-dioxidant etc. pollen is extracted