Many of the beekeeping activities in developing countries in the past have been oriented towards honey production. Wax usually was a by-product and other possible products have rarely found consideration. Such neglect of other products has a variety of reasons among which an easily accessible market or the lack of knowledge about production and further use are of major importance. While production methods of other primary products can be adapted from common beekeeping texts, the further elaboration and use of the same products can rarely be found. If so, descriptions range from highly specific scientific results to self-proclaimed experts fraudulently exploiting consumer ignorance. In order to present a comprehensive and practical review this bulletin tries to synthesize available information from scientific literature and practical, technical literature including the few in-depth reviews available on some of the primary bee products such as honey, Wax and propolis.
Worldwide the usage of such primary products as propolis, royal jelly and bee venom have increased mostly due to inclusion in cosmetic preparations. Medicinal use will increase once better and more detailed studies are completed, which however may not yet be in the very near future. The use of honey and other products has also increased in many countries because of the increasing health awareness and the high esteem of bee products in various processed and unprocessed forms.
In past publications the Agricultural Services Bulletins on beekeeping have sought to increase technical knowledge of beekeeping itself. During the last decades, the level of beekeeping and production knowledge in many developing countries has increased considerably. It was therefore considered necessary to provide further information for the expansion of beekeeping activities in order to increase income generation and stability as well as access to healthier products. Thus, this volume is intended to provide information on the utilization of all primary beekeeping products and in this way improve the possibilities for diversification in beekeeping activities. The new perspective for additional income generating activities for beekeepers and non-beekeepers alike may, under the right circumstances, also increase beekeeping viability in an otherwise often marginal business environment.
Most of the described products can also be produced by non-beekeepers, thus indirectly benefitting beekeeping by increasing the market for primary beekeeping products and opening opportunities for small, often home-based business activities.
Many of the described products can be produced with traditional skills on a very small, home-based production level but also on a medium to large industrial scale and are adapt for a variety of cultural and economic environments. This is very important since primary beekeeping products and their value added, processed products will increasingly have to find local markets, since international prices are too often below local production costs and require quality standards not easily reached by a young, developing industry. Diversification with value-added products therefore offers an opportunity to strengthen local markets which then permit a more solid beekeeping production to expand from a broad base into exportation. In this sense it is hoped that the provided information not only increases the viability and production of beekeeping and with it local living standards, but that it also can contribute to healthier products, import substitution and eventually increased incentives for regional and global trade.