Justin Chebii’s honey, is sourced, processed and distributed by Bogoria Special Honey, a company that prides itself in offering pure and natural honey sourced from the areas around Lake Bogoria, Baringo County.
Bogoria Special Honey is unique; it is natural, and it is original, it has no other ingredients other than the honey itself; no artificial flavours and no preservatives. It is sourced from Lake Bogoria Game Reserve area, world-famous for its hot springs.
The honey is produced by a family outfit, Bogoria Special Honey Limited, owned by Justin’s Family.
The company has its own bee farm, which has slightly over one hundred beehives. The farm produces much of the honey the firm sells. But during the dry season it sources for additional honey from the entire Baringo County, including Yatya and Chemolingot.
Quality of honey depends mainly on three things, which Justin says they have adequately addressed; production, processing and packaging.
Modern beehives are the best, Justin says. Langstroth beehives, for examples, ensure that the queen does not lay eggs on honey combs that will be harvested.
“There are two compartments, a lower one, where the queen will reside, and an upper one, which the queen can’t access,” Justin says.
The two compartments are separated by a wire mesh (queen excluder) with holes big enough to allow worker bees to access both compartments freely, but too small for the queen to use to access the upper compartment.
The upper compartment will therefore have only honey, which when harvested won’t have any bee larvae (young ones of bees).
It also means that so long as the lower chamber is not touched, young bees won’t be injured or killed.
Honey harvesting is also easy and convenient. Honey combs are easily detached and inspected. “If the honey comb is not mature for harvesting, it can be returned to the beehive with little or no damage,” Justin says.
The honey is removed using a honey extractor. It is then processed using the most modern techniques. Packaging is done under the highest levels of hygiene. Justin’s entire honey is grade one. This has enabled Bogoria Special Honey to attract and retain many customers.
The customers of Bogoria Special Honey include most of the leading five star hotels in the country. and some government institutions. The feedback from both the hotels and their customers has been excellent.
“Anyone who tastes Bogoria Special Honey becomes our customer,” Justin says.
The company sells about two tonnes of honey every month and has ambition to supply even more. it serves both those who buy in bulk and people who buy small amounts for domestic consumption.
“I am looking forward to the day when every retail outlet will have Bogoria Special Honey, when every customer will have the option of buying my honey in every shop and every supermarket,” he says.
Once that is achieved, the company will aim at the export market.
Uses of honey
Honey can be used as a substitute for sugar, it can be consumed as it is, spread on bread, and in beauty products. Honey nourishes the skin and removes dead tissue. Honey is also used in hospitals.
Honey has several by products, namely beeswax, and propolis. Propolis is the material bees use to seal whatever holes and spaces they find undesirable in the beehive.
Propolis can be used to make chewing gum that has medicinal value. Beeswax is the material that honeycombs are made of. It also has many uses.
Bogoria Special Honey started very modestly. Friends, neighbours and colleagues would approach Justin and his wife to bring them honey every time they went home.
With requests ever increasing, demanding more and more of their time, the couple decided to regularize and streamline their collection and distribution of the product as a commercial enterprise.
It was then that they registered the company, with the Registrar of Companies, the Kenya Revenue Authority, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and several other government agencies.
Supply of beehives and extension services
Bogoria Special Honey has since ventured into the supply of beehives, and equipment for harvesting, processing and packaging honey.
Justin also offers extension services to farmers, on how to rear bees as well as harvesting and processing of honey for value addition.
Beekeeping is environmentally friendly. It in fact improves the environment. “Bees and trees have an excellent symbiotic relationship,” Justin says.
“Trees provide bees with nectar while trees benefit from bees by having pollen transported from one plant to another, from one flower to another,” he adds.
This is how fertilization takes place among flowering plants, leading to production of seeds, which germinate into seedlings and grow into trees. Bees are very effective in pollination.
The county and national governments should support bee keepers and traders in honey, Justin says.
One support that government can offer is protection of bees, especially when they stray into people’s homes, business premises or schools among others.
“In most cases, people just get insecticide and spray them, killing an entire colony of bees, instantly” he says.
That need not happen. A service of rescue of bees should be established so that anyone who is in distress because of stray bees can call the service and get help for both themselves and the bees.
Bees that have been rescued under such circumstances can be taken to safety the wild or handed over to bee farmers, Justin says.
He lauds the recent ban on charcoal burning. Charcoal burning is disastrous to bees, since the smoke chases them away, and destruction of trees deprives them of nectar as well as condusive habitat.
Charcoal burning should be banned completely, says Justin. Trees should also be planted to make the environment greener.
The honey market also needs regulation so that standards can be set up and enforced.
At the moment there are many unscrupulous people selling adulterated honey. They end up defrauding unsuspecting customers and sometimes even endangering lives.
“Some people have been advised by their doctors to avoid sugar. If such people buy and consume honey that’s mixed with sugar, it could have serious consequences on their health,” he says.
This also affects the ordinary bee keeper in Baringo, Kitui or other honey producing parts of the country who end up losing their market to counterfeit products being passed off as genuine, pure honey.
Bogoria Special Honey is reachable on: +254722539744