The GEF Small Grants Programme

in Uzbekistan


Beekeeping problems:

how to increase business profits and the added value of the industry

Marufjon Aliyev

Head of the NGO Ho'qandi latif kelajagi »

Head of the project "Development of beekeeping in the Fergana region",

carried out with the support of the GEF SGP

Alexey Volkov

GEF SGP National Coordinator in Uzbekistan

Fergana region is one of the largest regions of Uzbekistan. The population of the region exceeds more than 3.6 million people, which causes an excess of labor resources and the presence of many social problems associated with the employment of the population. Agriculture is one of the main areas of activity of people living in the region.

The presence of diverse landscapes with a diverse flora allows the population to engage in beekeeping, providing as an additional, and sometimes the main income in a household. According to the Society of Beekeepers in the Ferghana region, more than 2.5 thousand households are engaged in household beekeeping, which have up to 50 bee families in apiaries. But there are large beekeepers who have up to 400 bee families on their farm. These figures clearly demonstrate that the topic is quite relevant and the problems of this industry development should be of interest to the state authorities of the region in order to improve its work accordingly.

In addition to the productivity of the industry, the creation of beekeeping products valuable for health - honey, poison, perga and others, and the livelihood (source of income) of a large number of the population, unfortunately we all do not take into account at all, or poorly understand the economic value of beekeeping, which produces an extremely important environmental service for the crop industry as a whole - pollination.

There are two types of crops - in which self-pollination occurs (wheat, peas, potatoes, and others) and which require cross-pollination (cotton, clover, sunflower, and others). Cross-pollination can occur with the help of wind or, most effectively, with the help of insects . In other words, insect pollination is an important ecological process for most oil, fodder and industrial crops. Pollination is also extremely important for increasing the yield of fruits (apricots, apple trees, pears, cherries, cherries, plums, peaches), berries, vegetables (cucumbers, onions, cabbage, turnips, radishes, etc.), as well as greenhouse plants.

The presence of pollinators, in contrast to simple wind pollination, results in an increase in yield, depending on the crop and cultivation conditions, by 10 to 100%. It is the economic assessment of this increase in yield that reflects the true cost of the service provided by pollinators, or beekeepers, in our case.

Ongoing research indicates that globally, pollinators generate between $235 billion and $577 billion in pollination service revenue [1]. In the US alone, pollination services are valued at $24 billion annually, half of which is produced by bees. On average, pollination services are estimated at 7-9.5% of the total turnover of agricultural products.

In Uzbekistan, pollination services have not been valued, but they certainly generate hundreds of millions of dollars annually. And whether beekeeping develops or support is not expected, it will depend on whether Uzbekistan will receive additional profit , or not.

Let's take cotton as an example:

"Cotton pollen is heavy and sticky, so cross-pollination with the help of wind is impossible. Pollen is transferred from one plant to another by insects, mainly bumblebees and honey bees. The percentage of cross-pollination decreases with increasing distance from the pollen source. Pollen are possible to be spread at a distance of up to 4 km [2].

As a result of pollination of cotton by bees, the yield of raw cotton and its quality are noticeably increased (10-24%). In Uzbekistan, about 1 million hectares are occupied by cotton crops. Assuming an average of 3 million tons of raw cotton production across the country [3], a yield increase of 10-20% from improved pollination by bees would mean an increase in cotton production by 300-600 thousand tons, respectively. Taking the average cost of raw cotton on the exchange at $2,000, Uzbekistan could receive an additional $600 million to $1.2 billion annually through the development of pollination services from beekeeping and other insects.

What needs to be done?

The performance of an industry as a whole depends on the entirety of its individual members and how well they perform. Why do people work in the industry? Why do people go into beekeeping? Because they are interested in receiving income, stable and fair, to be paid for their hard work. The more attractive their income is, the more beekeepers will be in the industry and the better they will work. Naturally, until a balance is reached between the number of beekeepers and the availability of space for their work.

NGO « Ho'qandi latif kelajagi " initiated the project "Development of beekeeping in the Ferghana region", where the main focus is put on improving the economic efficiency of beekeeping by local beekeeping farms. The project was supported by the GEF SGP in Uzbekistan. The project works with 22 local beekeepers who maintain apiaries with varying numbers of hives. The goal of the project is to increase the profitability of their business so that they stay in business, earn additional income, and thereby increase the attractiveness of the industry for other beekeepers to enter. The more beekeepers there are, the greater will be the volume of environmental services provided by bees - pollination, for the entire agricultural sector of the region.

Work on the production of queen cells for the production of royal jelly

During the warm season of 2022, the NGO conducted beekeeping classes with project participants. At first glance, the question stands: “Why train beekeepers the business they practice? They already know it all." In beekeeping, as in any other business, knowledge and skills are important to get the most out of your business. Unfortunately, most of the beekeepers who enter the business have not previously received any professional education on the topic: most beekeepers do as others do, learning from tips and imitation of other beekeepers’ styles, and do not follow elementary scientific advices. Some people learn from their mistakes, some don’t. Those who approach beekeeping from a scientific point of view, academically, and learn this craft are extremely few.

The lack of systematic training of beekeepers is one of the first factors that negatively affect the economic attractiveness of the business. Why? Weak apiary care skills eventually result in mistakes that cause economic losses.

For example, many beekeepers ignore taking preventive measures to combat bee diseases, which may cause very great damage to their apiary. One of the 22 beekeepers in the project, with 10 years of experience, ignored disease preventing work and lost all his bee colony in his apiary. In 2022, during the summer period, almost throughout the entire territory of Uzbekistan, the bee mite caused significant damage to bee apiaries, including in the Ferghana region, where the peak of the disease was observed by mid-August. Beekeepers across the country have lost a huge number of bee colonies. The reason for the large losses was the non-observance of simple preventive measures to combat ticks in the apiary. The beekeepers simply did not notice how fast the tick spread.

Mite disease (Varroa destructor), Varratosis, - a disease of larvae, pupae and adult bees, passes during the exchange of frames, when one beekeeper sells a bee package (young bee colony) to another. The larvae of the mite also pass through the frames and infect the colony where the purchased frames with bees are placed. Fearing a new defeat in 2023, similar in scope to the year 2022, the demand for young bee bags, i.e. purchases of young bee colonies from other beekeepers has dropped to a minimum. And almost all beekeepers have to restore their apiaries. The mistakes of beekeepers and the failure to apply preventive measures not only caused direct damage earlier in 2022 in the form of the death of bee apiaries, but also resulted in the loss of an important source of income for beekeepers in the Fergana Valley - the lack of demand for young bee bags, which is an important source of income in beekeeping . One beekeeper can prepare at least 100 young bee bags, which at a price of 20-24 dollars can make an additional income of 2-2.4 thousand dollars per season.

The constant exchange of information and training is also an important component in increasing the profitability of the beekeeper's business. For instance, it is important for beekeepers to understand where, when and what blooms in order to make timely migrations of apiaries to collect the greatest amount of honey. Climate change is shifting the timing of flowering for different crops at different altitudes and regions. Within the framework of this project, 18 beekeepers from the Fergana region, starting from January 20 to the beginning of March, traveled to the Surkhandarya region, Termez district. The purpose of the trip was to create early breeding conditions for bee colonies, obtaining abundant brood before the onset of spring in the Fergana region, where spring comes much later. Departure to a warmer area at an earlier time did not particularly affect the collection of honey (see Table No. 1) , but allowed to increase the brood of bees in the early stages. For beekeepers, this means a transition from winter to spring conditions without loss of bee colonies. In addition, there is a generation change in bee colonies. Thirdly, there is an increase in the number of bees in colonies by 2-3 times and the achievement of stable brood. These are very important indicators that ensure productivity in the next phase of spring work.

Table No. 1. Comparison of income from the sale of honey, depending on the pattern of migration


Nomadic scheme

Number of bee colonies

Income from the sale of honey


Fergana - Surkhandarya - Fergana




Fergana - Surkhandarya - Fergana




Fergana - Kamchik lane - Fergana




Fergana - Chorkesar - Fergana




Fergana - Surkhandarya - Kamchik lane - Fergana



Diversification of income sources in beekeeping plays a very important role. Unfortunately, at the moment, the main source of income for beekeepers is the sale of honey and the production of young bee bags. The GEF SGP project is aimed at the development of additional sources of income for beekeepers.

As additional sources of income, the project offered beekeepers to develop in the production of queen cells and the production of royal jelly, as well as the collection of bee venom.

For example, several decades ago in China, due to the misuse of pesticides and the low economic efficiency of beekeeping (problems similar to those in Uzbekistan, aren't they?), the number of apiaries dropped sharply and the level of pollination of plants naturally decreased. Beekeeping, as an industry, could disappear. Then the country organized a campaign to stimulate the production of bee venom as a medicine for pharmaceuticals and perfumery. People began to increase the number of bee colonies for the production of bee venom, propolis, pollen for pharmaceuticals, and the situation with the number of bees and the level of pollination began to level off. Now China is in first place in the export of bee venom. 1 gram of bee venom costs $80. An apiary of 100 families can produce bee venom worth $10,000 per season. This is a tangible source of income for a beekeeper and a good motivation to continue the business.

The process of collecting bee venom is not as complicated as it might seem at first glance..

The beekeeper Sobirzhon from our project also found an interesting source of additional income. He is engaged in apitherapy - the use of bees and bee products for medicinal purposes for the treatment of diseases of the musculoskeletal system, nervous system, autoimmune diseases and others. Mainly bee venom (apitoxin) is used, but royal jelly, native drone homogenate (NTG), propolis, flower pollen, beeswax, perga, and other beekeeping products. One bee sting costs 25 thousand soums. A full 10-day course of apitherapy costs 2.5 million UZS, which is also an important source of income. However, this method of generating income requires additional knowledge and is associated with risks in the correct use of this therapy.

Uzbekistan uses bee venom in its perfume and pharmaceutical industries. However, the poison is purchased from China. Our beekeepers could produce their own bee venom, royal jelly and other products and meet domestic demand and even export such products abroad and receive additional income. However, the main obstacle in this matter is the lack of certification of beekeeping products .

In order for a product to be freely sold inside and outside the country, the product must be certified - to indicate that it meets certain quality standards. Unfortunately, in Uzbekistan, at the level of regions and districts, where apiaries are mainly kept, there is no working mechanism that would allow certification of beekeeping products. As a result, beekeepers cannot test their product for a certificate of conformity and sell it legally. To expand the capabilities of the industry, the main task is to create a certification system at the level of regions and districts and to engage laboratories to certify beekeeping products to the appropriate quality standards. The presence of such a certification system will immediately solve many problems for beekeepers and help them discover new ways to generate income and enter new markets, including foreign ones. This, in turn, through the work of the market, will increase the size and number of bee farms, which for Uzbekistan will be positively expressed in form of a larger volume, assortment and added value of agricultural products, that can be valued in hundreds of millions of dollars throughout the country, due to pollination, obtaining additional yield of agricultural crops and the direct value of products of the beekeeping industry as a whole.

The quality certification system will also increase the level of product quality, ensuring the quality of honey and preventing the fake honey, in the form of a surrogate product made from sugar syrup.

Another barrier to the widespread development of beekeeping is the damaging system of pesticides use in agriculture, which of course has a very deplorable effect on the entire bee industry. At present, there are no mechanisms and obligations for either the authorities, or farmers, or any agricultural producers to take into account the interests of beekeepers and at least warn them in advance about the application of pesticides. At present, by decisions of governors of the regions, special teams are being created for pesticide application of crops against insecticidal pests. This is a terrible procedure that destroys all insects indiscriminately - useful and harmful. There is no system to warn beekeepers about the beginning of such processing, as a result of which entire apiaries die. In fact, this is a direct damage to beekeepers due to the actions of authorities and farmers. However, it is difficult to imagine in our country that it is possible to protect the property rights of beekeepers in court and obtain compensation for any damage.

In Europe, the main pesticides that kill bees and other beneficial pollinators are prohibited by law. And there is a debate going on about the interests of farmers growing crops - that such bans could have a negative impact on the protection of crops. But they at least compare economic indicators from the existence and protection of pollinators and possible losses in crops as a result of refusing to use such pesticides. We don't even have a beekeeper warning system. And there should be. According to beekeepers, it is necessary to adopt regulations and enforce them for the "smart" use of pesticides on the crop fields, the introduction of a warning system, application rates, time of application, taking into account the interests of pollinators and beekeepers. In addition, it is necessary to pay legislative attention to the widespread development and application of biological methods of pest control on the crop fields, instead of the use of chemicals. At least for one of the main crops - cotton, which is the main honey plant in Uzbekistan.

Another example when the interests of beekeepers are ignored and the interests of other sector prevail over the underestimated benefits of the beekeeping industry is the problem of overgrazing. The standards for grazing of cattle in the foothills and mountainous areas are not observed anywhere, which ultimately leads to the destruction of vegetation cover (honey plants) in these areas. Local residents who own several bee colonies in home gardens testify that every year they produce less and less honey. The reason is the huge number of livestock that eats away all the vegetation.


To summarize the above, we want to state the pledges of beekeepers expressed during the implementation of the project. And these inquiries are indeed important for the entire beekeeping industry in Uzbekistan. Thus:

  1. The interests of beekeepers and beekeeping as an industry should be analyzed. A systematic approach is needed for the development of beekeeping, where the state will clearly understand that the development of the industry can bring additional value in the form of hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars annually in the form of ecological service - pollination of crops , as well as direct income in the form of beekeeping products;
  2. It is necessary to resolve the issue of wide certification of various beekeeping products, which will open and develop many markets for beekeepers in Uzbekistan, allow them to increase the profitability of their business, and hence increase the size and number of bee farms. This will be a direct cause for the increase in crop yields from increased pollination services. And this direct link between pollinators and increased yields needs to be understood and taken into account.
  3. Solve the problem with the use of pesticides in agriculture, which have a devastating effect on bees, destroying bees and bringing enormous loss to beekeepers. The economic interests of beekeepers must be adequately protected.
  4. It is necessary to take all possible steps to diversify the production and marketing, including export, of bee products: bee venom, royal jelly, products derived from honey, honey itself.
  5. Creation of information exchange networks between beekeepers, systems for improving their skills, knowledge through various structures - beekeepers' associations, chambers of commerce and industry and others.
  6. Create realistic financial products to support beekeepers' seasonal expenses

The main idea that should be widely accepted and understood by all decision makers is that the invisible service of pollination by bees can bring hundreds of millions of dollars to the country. And this added value will be received by different players in the agricultural sector. Farmers, mostly. But in order to obtain this added value for the whole country, it is important to improve the profitability of each individual beekeeper: he/she must be able to produce and sell the direct products of beekeeping: honey, poison, bees, royal jelly, etc. Any beekeeper must have conditions and feel that his/her business is in demand not only by the market, but also by the state. The actions of neighboring sectors in agriculture should take into account the interests of beekeeping. The adoption of any decision in the agricultural industry should analyze how and how much in monetary terms the industry will lose or gain from such a decision.

How comfortable it will be for beekeepers to do their business, and how profitable their business will be, will affect how many additional billions of dollars the country will receive. Now more than ever, government support is needed to protect bees as the main pollinator in agricultural landscapes, to ensure food security and sustainable development of the agricultural industry in the long term.

[2] National Biotechnology Center of Kazakhstan - a tnik/