Mwangi Mumero @PeopleDaiyKe
Construction of bee houses can increase honey production while reducing conflict among communities, work done by the World Agroforestry Centre in collaboration with partners has shown.
Work with farmers in Western Uganda indicates that bee houses cut the incidences of hive thieves, honey badger and birds which destroy and steal farmers’ efforts. It also reduces moulds inside hives, which accumulate due to moisture. A bee house is a structure that houses hives to enclose them rather than leave them exposed to ravages of weather.
Researchers say bee houses partly came about owing to the advantage of having healthy, strong and rapidly expanding colonies, which translates to high yields. Having bee hives secured under lock and key in cost-effective structures also assures farmers of quality yields due to reproductive cycles.
For success in beekeeping, researchers say farmers need training in basic beekeeping, such as siting a hive, characteristics of a good hive, forage, handling pests and diseases, constructing a bee house and the best ways of managing hives for maximum benefits.
Farmers need to select sites for bee houses that have close proximity to forests and river banks, availability of bee forage and plantings of Calliandra calothyrus, an agroforestry tree, and Lavendula augustifolia, popularly known as lavender, to provide nectar. “Bees form colonies much faster when located near water sources and forests with diverse nectar and water. Presence of Calliandra trees can improve the quantity and quality of honey,” says Clement Okia from ICRAF.
Bees remain critical as pollinators even as the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) urges countries and individuals to protect bees and other pollinators or risk a sharp drop in food diversity. Increasingly, bees have come under serious threat from effects of climate change, use of agricultural pesticides, pollution and loss of biodiversity.
Research conducted by the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe) shows that the effect of pesticides on bee population is East African region is however low compared to Europe and the US.
“We need to refocus on the widespread use of pesticides and chemicals that threaten crops and pollinators even as we think of increased food production. We need to turn words into action and perform specific activities to conserve bees and other pollinators,” said JoséGraziano da Silva, FAO’s Director-General on World Bee Day.