Bee Farming, a Sustainable Source of Employment for Forest Communities

Honey is a non-timber forest product that can serve as a veritable source of employment to forest communities, lessen poverty and enhance biodiversity conservation. According to forest conservationists, bee farming has the potential of changing the biodiversity conservation narratives. Forest adjacent communities see honey as a non-timber forest product that can help reduce poverty, strengthen biodiversity and conserve natural resources. The Cameroon Minister of Livestock Fisheries and Animal Industries, Dr. Taiga, noted recently that bee farming conserves ecological assets by increasing agricultural productivity through pollination.

Statistics indicate that there are over 20,000 bee farmers in Cameroon today, who earn about 30% of their yearly pay from selling honey and honey-related items. Mr. Lyonga Abel Toto is a bee farmer/trainer resident at Bova II, in Buea South West Region of Cameroon. He has been engaged in bee farming for the past 20 years. “I am married with 5 children, who are all in school. One of my children is reading Agriculture at Veterinary Medicine at the University of Buea.  Most of the income I use to sponsor these children in school and take care of my family comes from bee farming. It is a great source of livelihood,” Mr. Lyonga attested.

According to the experienced bee farmer/trainer, one Kenyan top bar beehive costs 25,000XAF and can generate about 20 liters of honey per year. “We use good hard wood like mahogany and with such., the hive can last for over 50 years. We sell a litre of honey at 4500XAF and we also get wax, pollen, propolis from the hives which have good markets,” he added.

Within the framework of the Irvingia Project, Ecological Balance, in May 18 2022, trained and donated basic equipment including Kenyan top bar beehive, honey harvesting suite, rain boots, hand gloves, etc. worth 100,000XAF to a start-up in Buea. This gesture came after an input vs output analysis carried out by Ecological Balance’s Volunteer, Aahan Kandoth, an economics student. “Total initial inputs amount to about 264,000XAF ($431) in training, basic equipment, 1 hive, labor, and packaging. This would result in about 200,000XAF ($327) in cash per year and over 7,000,000XAF ($11425) in social benefits (pollination, spread of money around the economy, health benefits from consuming natural honey),” the volunteer posited.

Bee farming like any other vocation requires the right training, equipment, and land. It starts with identifying an apiary, installation of beehives and then swarming or bathing of the hive with honey to attract bees. It is best to do this in the dry season. Monitoring, harvesting, and selling of bee products are also very vital parts of the farming process.

By Njiafu Benardin

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