This article focuses on beekeeping in Kenya. Beekeeping in Kenya is mainly done to produce honey for domestic consumption and for commercial purposes.
Currently, Kenya produces about 100,000 metric tons of honey annually, a worrying trend as most of the beekeepers still use traditional systems of beekeeping.
Beekeeping Areas in Kenya
Beekeeping is largely practised in arid and semi-arid areas such as Kitui, Machakos, Makueni, Baringo and Kajiado.
Requirements/Equipment for Beekeeping
1. A durable beehive
You need a strong and durable beehive to house the bees. The best beehives to use are Langstroth hives, Kenya top bar hives and Traditional log hives. The hives should have enough space and be easy to maintain.
2. Honey extractors and sieves
They are necessary tools required for harvesting honey.
3. Bee suit
A bee suit is usually worn when carrying out routine inspection or during harvesting. It offers protection from bee stings when harvesting. It should be worn appropriately and on top of a pair of quality gumboots.
4. Uncapping fork
It used to remove comb caps.
5. A pair of quality gloves
The best gloves to use are those made of leather.
6. Hive tool
The hive tool is a necessary equipment that aids in cleaning propolis and moving frames.
Best Place to Set up an Apiary
Once you have all the necessary tools/equipments, you need to set up an apiary. The apiary should be set up in areas where;
- There is no noise or minimal human activities.
- Well drained areas to prevent the bees from absconding.
- Bee-friendly pesticides are sprayed.
- There is a close water source and nectar source.
- There is a proper shade and free from strong winds.
An apiary can be set up where there are plants such as sunflower, legumes, berries, wild flowers, pumpkins, squash,tulips etc. The plants are good sources of nectar.
How to Avoid Absconding
Absconding is when the bees completely leave the hives. It can be caused by factors such as high humidity, lack of food, water and extreme weather conditions such as strong winds and direct sunlight. Careless handling can also lead to absconding.
To avoid absconding, you can do the following;
- Supplement the bees with food.
- Ensure the bee hives are well drained and designed.
- Carefully handle the bees and the hives. Avoid banging the hives and breaking combs.
Honey is best harvested during dry spells. Before harvesting, ensure you appropriately put on a bee suit. You should also avoid wearing woolen clothes, strong perfumes and scent, to prevent the bees from following you.
Market for Bee Products in Kenya
Beekeeping in Kenya is mainly practised to produce honey. There is a ready market for honey both locally or domestically and in the international markets.
Honey can be sold directly to shops or suppliers, in different grades which include crude honey, comb honey, chunk honey, semi-refined and refined.