Beekeeping as an activity offers great potential for development in almost all African countries. It is easy and cheap to start, it can provide valuable food/medicine for the family and honey and beeswax are important cash crops with ready local market.
Beekeeping requires little land and therefore is an ideal activity for small scale resource-poor farmers. Beekeeping also enhances the environment and increases crop yields through pollination. Beekeeping gives local people an economic incentive for the retention of natural habitats such as forests and therefore is an ideal activity in any forest conservation programme.
At the moment in all countries where Apiconsult has worked beekeeping is in its infancy. In Africa most honey produced comes from collection of wild honey from trees and rock cavities along with production from fixed comb traditional hives.
These hives are generally made from hollowed out logs, baskets or pots. They are also commonly made from simple boxes or other containers. Careful introduction of better technology top bar and frame hives can significantly improve the yields and quality of bee products. This is no easy task – care must be taken to understand local culture and traditions of the people, their existing technology (and its improvement), the climate/seasons in the area and the behavior of the bees themselves. Most importantly market links for improved products have to be established or any initiative to improve beekeeping will not succeed.
An educated youth who understand the value of beekeeping will take care of and enhance their environment!
I believe the WHY of beekeeping is really important and does not get enough attention. We can become lost in the ‘How’ of beekeeping. I explore this topic in detail in my online course ‘Background to Beekeeping: Start with Why’.