On Monday 20th May, the globe marked World Bee Day. The day was set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2017 to coincide with the birthday of a modern pioneer bee farmer from Slovenia named Jason and was commemorated for the first time in 2018. Although, the purpose was to sensitize communities on the role of bees as pollinators and their contribution to food crop production bee keeping can be a viable and sustainable agribusiness project. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that bees contribute to the pollination of food worth between $ 235 and $ 580 billion every year. Bees are an important determinant on the number of fruits per plant through pollination.
However, away from the biodiversity conservation issue, apiculture as beekeeping is referred could be a very lucrative venture in the Kenya. Honey is important in food and drugs manufacturing. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries estimates that the country only produces a fifth of its potential. There are counties which have made great strides in honey production although more needs to be done. The previous and the current West Pokot County government has been distributing bee hives to the farmers in the county. Today West Pokot honey is available in Qatar through the efforts of the county government.This week the Kitui County government has promised to support bee farmers. The Ministry of Agriculture is also promising to develop a bee farming curriculum. This will assist farmers to develop technical skills on production and handling of clean hygienic honey that meets the European Standards where this is a huge market.
The reason why bee farming could be a lucrative venture in the country is due to the fact that over three quarters of our land is arid or semi arid which is conducive for bees. That’s why West Pokot, Baringo, Isiolo, Kitui, Machakos, Makueni, and parts of Meru, Tharaka Nithi and Murang’a counties could be ideal for bee keeping. There is also little investment in terms of inputs as compared to other types of farming. However the government should come up with clear and workable strategies on marketing this precious product otherwise we will have every county sending a delegation to market its honey abroad. The standards of the honey fit for foreign markets should be clarified to the farmers who should also be trained for them to get maximum value..
Apart from honey , bee farming also produces bee venom, propolis, royal jelly and bees wax which could also complement the farmers’ incomes. This is a venture that people with vast idle lands could venture in and reap from this multi million sector.