SWEET WEALTH

Traditional hives more productive, beekeeper says

Most bee farmers in Kitui use traditional log hives which are cheaper

In Summary

•Farmer dismisses myth modern hives are superior

•Says one can produce up to 15 kg of pure honey against the 10-12kg from an exotic hive

A traditional beehive and two modern ones at Munyoki Kimwele’s apiary in Mwingi Central subcounty on Monday
OLD IS BEST: A traditional beehive and two modern ones at Munyoki Kimwele’s apiary in Mwingi Central subcounty on Monday
Image: MUSEMBI NZENGU

Modern beehives do not beat traditional log hives used by most farmers in Kitui, a model beekeeper in the county has said. 

“I harvest up to 15kg of pure honey from a single traditional beehive but the yield from the exotic beehives ranges from between 10-12kg,” Munyoki Kimwele said on Monday. 

He spoke to journalists who visited his farm in the company of the Kitui value chain adviser Temi Mutia.

 
 

Governor Charity Ngilu’s administration has launched a programme to train beekeepers in modern techniques to boost production and quality of honey.

Kimwele dispelled the long-held notion that traditional beehives, whose use is up to 92 per cent among local bee farmers, are inferior to expensive exotic beehives.

“A slight modification of the traditional log beehives by installing a wire mesh queen excluder in the middle gives the bees an exclusive area to build cobs and put pure honey in the space,” said the beekeeper as he took reporters around his apiary in Ndithi village of Mwingi Central subcounty. 

He said if the cheap and local traditional beehives were installed with a queen excluder, honey production would increase many times. “I have done it and have first-hand experience of the benefit in increased honey production." 

Kimwele welcomed the county initiative to boost honey production as a means to end poverty among residents.

He was backed by Kabwere Muthui and Mutia Musyoka of Maseki village in Mwingi north subcounty, 40 kilometres away.

Muthui and Musyoka said if well handled, beekeeping was more beneficial than crop growing considering that the area is constantly affected by drought and erratic rainfall leading to crop failure. They said it was an ideal and more rewarding alternative to agriculture. 

 
 

“I have personally tasted the economic benefits of beekeeping. During a good season, I sell up to six drums of honey after harvest. I can say due to my beekeeping activity, I am not a pauper because I am able to easily meet most of my family’s financial obligations,” Muthui said.

Musyoka said honey production would be the new frontier in wealth creation for the locals if the Kitui government helps farmers overcome challenges.

(Edited by R.Wamochie) 

A traditional have that has been fitted with a queen excluder to boost honey production at Munyoki Kimwele’s apiary in Ndithi Village in Mwingi Central subcounty on Monday
PRODUCTION: A traditional have that has been fitted with a queen excluder to boost honey production at Munyoki Kimwele’s apiary in Ndithi Village in Mwingi Central subcounty on Monday
Image: MUSEMBI NZENGU