Thursday, 22 October 2015


Nigerian representatives at APIMONDIA

As a few may know I was in Korea a few weeks ago to attend the APIMONDIA world event in Deajeon, South Korea. ‘API’ or ‘APIS’ has to do with bees and ‘MONDIA’ or ‘MONDIAL’ has to do with something involving the whole world. So, your guess may be as good as mine. APIMONDIA = BEES OF THE WORLD. It is the gathering of beekeeper, beekeeping machinery manufactures, entomological scientists and everyone that is a friend of bees. It is an event that holds every three years with participants from the world over. It was in Ukraine three years ago, this year it was in South Korea and in three years time it will be in Turkey. I hope to be there to; at least I will eat lots of turkey. 

The event is usually divided into two sessions; the scientific sessions where there are new revelations and discoveries. This is subdivided into sub sessions like beekeeping for rural development, Apitherapy, Bee biology and many more. These sub sessions all run simultaneously with each presenter having about fifteen minutes each to make a presentation. Presentations usually run from around 9am till about 4:30pm. This runs through the week. Now you know there is much talk about bees. This year
 I made a presentation on ‘Beekeeping in Nigeria; a case study of my involvement training five hundred farmers’.  It’s interesting to know how much there is to learn about this insect, some of which we will share in future publications.

The other session is usually exhibition of products and machinery. There you find various manufactures and producers of products. Nigeria had a stand sponsored by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), I saw a couple of people from my mother land Ghana to as well. Usually most participants are here, especially at the beekeeping awards gallery where there is the best of the very best products and machinery. Award winning products, to be specific.
What got my attention the most was the product range from Brazil, especially products around propolis. Brazil has a broad variety of propolis that is not found anywhere else in the world. I think this is so because of the diversity of flora especially in the Amazon. I particularly think that after bee venom, propolis seems to be getting much interest these days.
Let me gist you a little bit about propolis. The bees get it from cell sap of plants. For those of us who are Africans and are not ‘aje butters’; don’t ask me what the meaning of that is; you know that when you cut the back of a tree or any other plant, there is a fluid that oozes out. This fluid is meant for the healing of the injured plant actually because of its medicinal properties. Hence, bees take advantage of it and even us humans. The ‘aje phako’ use these tree backs to prepare ‘Agbo’ which is local medicine gotten from boiling tree backs and leaves. In fact today there is a centre for research into plant medicine, I think in Mampong Akwapem in Ghana. I am only trying to buttress the medicinal uses of cell sap from plants.
So these bees gather these saps and also use it for similar medicinal purposes in their hive. The advantage for us humans is that we get more than we would have gotten from our ‘boilings’ because the bees gather these sap from several plants beyond and over what we human can. It also cannot be toxic to us because such harmful toxins would have killed the bees in the first place so you will now find proplis in natural products have deal with tooth issues, ulcers and various forms of illness. You know that interestingly it was revealed at APIMONDIA 2015 that propolis found in areas where there are particular disease conditions have antibiotic and other properties that particularly cure those disease conditions. What I mean is that if cough is common in Abuja, the propolis in Abuja has high contents of antibiotic properties that attack the virus that causes cough. Wow. I my next publication I hope to talk more about a man that has worked for about 25 years on propolis from all over the world and some of his findings. I pray he grants me permission to go ahead and write about him.

I enjoyed my one week stay in Korea. My good Korean friend Kim was good company on my last day in Korea. We boarded the same fast train from Deajeon to Seoul. I missed Miss Julie and Mr. Kim (not my friend). I used to be their driver in Nigeria and hoped to meet them when I got to Korea but they were on official assignment in Pakistan and Laos respectively. ‘if them dey, chai; I for chop the life of my head’.
So stay tuned, I will write on propolis again next time and my trip to the headquarters of the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations in Italy in subsequent editions. Chau.    

Monday, 18 May 2015

'The sky's the limit'

I never planned to study entomology or be a beekeeper. Actually I
enrolled in the school of Biological Sciences hoping to be a medical

Some days after the Asian tsunami in 2004, I was intrigued
by a scientific publication that suggested that animals, particularly
insects were sensitive enough to leave days before the catastrophe. This
is how I became interested in entomology and wildlife and found out
insects are the most successful of all living beings.

Discovering the Apiculture world

that time, the labour market was choked up. I started thinking about
possible business markets I could get involved in. Out of all the insect
families the most popular one are the beetles (Coleopterans), which is
of great economic importance to agriculture. However, as I did not see
much of an entrepreneurial future in this sector for Africa, I thought
instead about bees (Hymenopterans) and began to specialise in entomology
and wildlife at my third year of undergraduate study.

When I
finished my undergraduate studies, I applied for the voluntary national
service for graduates of higher institutions of learning in Nigeria.
Thankfully, I realised soon enough that keeping bees during my service
year wasn’t the right choice due to the violent people that I met there,
so after my service year I managed to set up an apiary while engaging
myself in other side jobs to survive.

My first apiary had a capacity to carry 33 hives. The picture below was just before it was finished.My first apiary had a capacity to carry 33 hives

location was very suitable as it was rich in water source (a little
stream), density  and diversity of angiosperms both in and out of
season. It was located in the dense vegetative area called Galadimawa,
which is in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Overcoming vandalism

could have served for training and capacity building purposes. It could
have also helped carry out environmental health studies in that area
for the city of Abuja. Unfortunately, when the time for harvest came,
thieves took away all the harvestable honey and destroyed the

I had to pick up the left overs, relocate the
hives into a fenced farm and built a 60 hive capacity apiary. I designed
this apiary also for training purposes among others. A picture of when
it was under construction is shown below.

60 hive capacity apiary

vandalism has not stopped; it is better now as I have employed someone
to look after the apiary. Likewise, farmers who are in the surroundings
help protect my apiary as they see the yield of their crops has improved
thanks to its proximity.

Training women farmers in bee-keeping

I am currently training farmers under a USAID
MARKETS 2 project. We are training in five states of Nigeria and it is
of great joy empowering farmers. We have seen the impact of pollination
intervention in strawberry farms in Platue state, pepper farms in Kaduna
state and soya beans in Benue state. Besides, we have been able to
provide a market for beekeepers and people from Kasiri in Kaduna state
now have takers available for all their products.

In the past,
women did not have buyers. During our Farmer Interest Analysis for the
Chikum and Kajuru women of Kaduna state we were informed that after
harvesting the honey women only took the little they needed and poured
the rest into the river as they could not carry the dense liquid home.
They also burnt the bees so that these wouldn’t disturb them when they
were working in their farms. Thanks to our project, now they know

Moreover, farmers in Ondo and Cross river states in
Southern Nigeria are willing to slow down the use of insecticides and
practice traditional methods that discourage pests and promote effective

Expanding the business

Despite all the
obstacles, I believe agriculture’s future is brighter than ever. I was
recently at a mega store to attend a suppliers’ meeting for a honey
packaging company I am consultant at and I was very elated with the
increase of locally manufactured honey demand.

Recently,  an
economist on another forum made a conservative estimate of what the
beekeeping industry is worth in Nigeria and concluded on about three
billion naira yearly (around 15 million USD). Considering this number
only included honey, bee bread (pollen), propolis and commercial
pollination and not bee venom or royal jelly. It is very promising.

the several challenges, I won’t give up. I hope not only to raise
enough capital to set up a minimum of 300 - 1,000 hives in several
apiaries in Nigeria and Ghana, but also to train farmers on bee-keeping
to learn to practise apitherapy. The household nutrition dimension of
bee products brought home is overwhelming. The sky is the limit.

Thursday, 28 August 2014


Let us first define or explain what crystallisation of honey is. When honey takes on a solid or semi-solid from, it is said to be crystallised. Usually it is most noticeable when honey is put in the fridge and there are noticeable white granular substances at the bottom which most people around here conclude to be sugar (sucrose) granules.
This natural phenomenon happens when glucose, one of three main sugars in honey, spontaneously precipitates out of the supersaturated honey solution. The glucose loses water (becoming glucose monohydrate) and takes the form of a crystal.

Honey will crystallize because it is a supersaturated sugar solution. Let me be quick to add that this is not the sugar we all are medically worried about, on the average honey will contain only about 1.3% of the sugar(sucrose) that is harmful to health. The majority of the sugar in honey is glucose and fructose. Haven said this; a couple of factors may predispose honey to crystallisation. This will usually include but not limited to
1.     Botanical origin or source of the honey, and by extension its glucose level and moisture content.
2.     Alternate heating and cooling especially with harvesting processing and packaging.
3.     The presence of about 180 substances excluding sugars may also be a factor
The highlights of this is that we should not tag a sample of honey as bad because it has white sediments at the bottom of the jar, what it simply means is that the honey contains a good amount of glucose which is actually a positive indication. Honey samples from plant sources such as Alfalfa, Cotton, Dandelion, Prune, Rape etc will readily crystallise as opposed to honey from plant sources such as Tupelo, Sunflower, Grape, Acacia, etc. Which will not.
The only reason which is not so very concrete; while you should not go for honey with crystals at the bottom of its jar is that the crystallisation may have been caused by alternate heating and cooling at temperatures above 70˚C. This would have killed most of honeys essential micro nutrients with leaves the honey as just a solution of sugar.
However to prevent your honey from crystallising please do not put you honey jar in refrigerators. Your honey will remain good at room temperature. It is important that your honey does not crystallise by cooling or induction because this increases the moisture content and encourages fermentation of the honey. So, please warm crystallised honey by placing your jar in hot water making sure the temperature does not exceed 70˚C and let it remain at room temperature.
On a good note, it is interesting to know that crystallised honey is even more expensive and of other uses such as bread spread in some regions. It is called cremed honey, having the texture of butter, wow! I am sure you will love it.
Now I sure you know will not throw away your crystallised honey, what is at the bottom is not sugar(sugar) which your doctor warns you About but it is Sugar(Glucose) which you need badly. Have a honey time.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Who or What is honey?

One of my lecturers at the University would always ask his question like this 'who or what is ...? I am sure some people might call a person 'honey' and others that sweet substance. I am sure this post will firther answer a couple of those question you have.

Honey is the natural sweet substance produced by honey bees 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 the honey comb to ripen and mature. 

Field honey bees collect flower nectar. On entering the hive with a full honey sac, which is an enlargement of the oesophagus, the field bee regurgitates the contents into the mouth of a young worker, called the house, or nurse, bee. The house bee deposits the nectar in a cell and carries out the tasks necessary to convert the nectar to honey. When the honey is fully ripened, the cell is sealed with an airtight wax capping. Both old and young workers are required to store the winter supplies of honey.

Nectar is averagely about 80% moisture and 20% sugars. The bees collect this and add to it several other components in their stomach as you must have noticed above that honey will qualify as bee vomit; Yook! Fear not, these substances are what make honey like no other sugar with such much to offer. They then will reduce the moisture content to about 20% and the sugars plus other beneficial substances to about 80%. 80/20 rule enh!
I may now in Chemistry registers define honey as a supersaturated solution. I would like you to keep this in mind as it will be the core of our discussion when we talk about honey and crystallization. You know that white stuff you see under your jar of honey when you store your honey slightly below room temperature.
What intrigues me most is the work that the bees have to do that I might enjoy just a spoonful of this sweet healthy substance. The average honey bee will actually make only one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime as it takes It takes about 556 workers to gather 1 pound (0.45359kg) of honey from about 2 million flowers. I guess we have so much to learn from
them when it comes to work ethics and even our social structure. Let us leave that for a rainy day.
It is healthy to know that honey contains only about 1.3% sucrose, 38% fructose and about 31% glucose. What this means is that honey is very okay for diabetic patients. There are so many other applications of honey for nutritional and preservative purposes. Its health benefits cannot be exhausted, ranging from ulcers to cosmetics to medicines just to mention a few. For those of us that are quite spiritual the holy books say it all.
In Matthew 3:4, John the Baptist is said to have lived for a long period of time in the wilderness on a diet consisting of locusts and wild honey.
In Islam, there is an entire Surah in the Qur'an called al-Nahl (the Honey Bee). According to hadith, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) strongly recommended honey for healing purposes. The Qur'an promotes honey as a nutritious and healthy food.
“And your Lord inspired the bee(s), saying: "Take your habitations in the mountains and in the trees and in what they erect. (68) Then, eat of all fruits, and follow the ways of your Lord made easy (for you)." There comes forth from their bellies, a drink of varying colour wherein is healing for mankind. Verily, in this is indeed a sign for people who think”

As good as it is there is one key don’t with honey, please DONT GIVE TO A BABY LESS THAN A YEAR OLD. It may cause a death. The presence of   endospores of the bacterium. I know especially in the Yoruba culture of Nigeria this will come with fierce resistance. I am yet to get samples of Nigerian honey to specialised labs that will help to identify this bacterium if it does exist in her honey samples.