- Beekeeping in Kenya has been practiced over the years.
- However only 20% of the country’s honey production potential (estimated at 100,000 metric tonnes) has been tapped.
- 80% of Kenya consists of arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) which have high potential in production of honey and apicultural activity is a major occupation in these areas due to the abundance of bee flora.
- Non ASAL regions also practice beekeeping
- Modern beekeeping in Kenya started towards the end of 1960s and has since become an important enterprise in the livestock sub-sector.
- 80% of the honey comes from the traditional log hive.
- However, a reasonable amount of hive products is obtained from Kenya Top Bar and Langstroth hives
Need for Bee-keeping
- Bee farming is a rewarding and enjoyable occupation with many benefits. It has a number of advantages over other farm enterprises;
- Requires little land (50 colonies require a ¼ acre ) which does not have to be fertile
- Honey is a source of non-perishable food
- Capital investment is low compared to other farm enterprises
- Beekeeping or bee farming is cheap and relatively not competitive to other Agricultural enterprises i.e. does not compete for resources
- Labour required is low.
- Many products can be obtained which are great source of income i.e. honey, beeswax, pollen, propolis, bee venom, royal jelly, bee colonies, bee brood, queen bees, and package bees.
- Encourages environmental conservation.
- Bees are good pollinators of plants, trees, fruits and crops, thus playing a big role in bio-diversity and improvement of crop yields
- The therapeutic value of most hive products provide remedy for a number of ailments (Apitherapy)
MAIN CHALLENGES IN PRODUCTION OF HONEY
- The farmers lack adequate skills on managing bees and handling hive products.
- Inadequate training for both farmers and extension staff.
- Limited access to appropriate beekeeping equipment.
- An underdeveloped marketing system of hive products both locally and internationally due to problems of quality and marketing organisations.
- Lack of adequate and intense research on of the existing beekeeping technologies, equipment, honey bee and product utilisation.
- Low prioritization of beekeeping in relation to other enterprises in the wider Agricultural sector.
POLICY ON APICULTURE
- The current policy on Apiculture is broadly to develop a modern beekeeping industry in the country to provide additional income to rural households.
- The Policy paper on apiculture is still on the draft proposal stage