From David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
A prominent bee farmer in Anambra State, Mr. Emeka Okafor, has regretted that bee-keeping had remained largely unexploited in the country.
Okafor, Chairman of Majesty Honey Farms, Adazi Ani, Anocha Local Government Area of Anambra State, said he had been thanking his stars for directing him to the bee-keeping business, a branch of farming he said was a money-spinner if well harnessed.
Okafor, otherwise known as Emeka Honey, is the most popular bee farmer in Anambra State. He said since 2012, he had been working hard to develop the sector because of his love for the business even though he was oftentimes retarded by financial limitations.
Okafor informed that he produced pure natural honey and the wax, which had kept him gainfully employed over the years.
The bee-keeper said he had been able to invent an instrument to suppress any level of aggression of the bees, adding that he could handle his farming activities from start to finish without being stung by the bees. He noted that no bee would also be killed, even by accident.
“There is colony by colony production level, and each bee hive can produce not less than twenty five litres in a given harvest from November to June which is our peak period every year. In totality, my farm can produce about 37, 500 litres of honey annually.
“Bees are sensitive animals, so, you need not kill them before harvesting the honey. We have an instrument with which to harvest the honey without killing a single bee, unlike in traditional honey harvesting method where people use fire to kill the bees in order to get access to the honey,” he explained.
To attract the bees to a colony in the first place, Okafor said the farmer must look for an environment with vegetation. He informed that bees loved flowers, which they feed on for reproduction. The farmer explained that you could bring in things like palm wine, cashew fruits, pineapple, mango fruits, pawpaw and other fruits in that category, including honey, and deposit such at the provided bee colonies. These constitute food items for the bees, he noted.
Okafor noted that another interesting thing about bees was that the animals were never in need of any help to feed and hardly needed anything synthetic in their food. He explained further that after initially being attracted to the colonies scattered all over the farms, the bees could now begin to look for food elsewhere and would definitely return to their colonies after feeding outside on a daily basis.
For you to get close to the bees colonies when they are already hosted, Mr Okafor informed that you have to put on an overall, a hand glove and a mask, adding that the bees were quite sensitive to colours.
You dare not come close with red colours which, according to Okafor, the bees regard as confrontational. “Bees are friendly but can become aggressive when they suspect that you are coming to attack them,” he explained.
Okafor said the government had been losing millions of dollars for not paying adequate attention to the industry given the efficacy of pure natural honey in the medical field.
“Research has shown that honey is very effective for open heart surgery wound dressing, serves as a blood purifier, heals blood cancer, eye problems through consistent addition to meals, and has a whole lot of other medicinal values,” he noted.
To encourage production of honey in commercial quantity, he suggested that government must develop an interest in it. He informed that young graduates should be trained to produce honey, adding that his company could comfortably handle such.
“Now that we have realised the need to diversify the nation’s economy, government should show acute interest in this bee-keeping business. The way to go is to sponsor trainees in that area of farming and provide the necessary financial encouragement to those in this special field,” he asserted.