BEE FARMING

Kitui starts project to increase population of bees

Farmers trained in methods of rearing the queen bee, which lays 1,500-1,800 eggs a day.

In Summary
  • The queen bee is a very important asset in a hive as it commands the hive and lives up to four years before it dies of old age.
  • The county now boasts of over 10, 000 beekeepers, 150,000 hives and more than five cooperative societies.
The trainer holds a queen bee from this colony, the bee is normally large in size than the others.
QUEEN BEE REARING The trainer holds a queen bee from this colony, the bee is normally large in size than the others.
Image: LINAH MUSANGI

The Kitui government has embarked on breeding bees through queen bee rearing.

Dr Temi Mutia, the Kitui value chain addition specialist, said the county is among the most endowed regions with the best honey in the world.

The government first encouraged farmers to join cooperatives. The county now boasts of over 10, 000 beekeepers, 150,000 hives and more than five cooperative societies.

However, following climate change, about 38 per cent of the hives are not colonised.

“We want to boost bee farming in Kitui, which is why we have embarked on queen bee rearing,” Temi said.

Representatives from every cooperative were trained in methods of rearing the queen bee, which lays 1,500-1,800 eggs a day.

During the four-day training, the farmers divided colonies, did cloning, started queen cells and transferred new queens into new colonies.

Temi said the government will be producing bees in very large numbers beginning this year and sell the colonies to farmers.

“Once one buys a hive, it will be possible for us to put a fresh colony for them to produce honey immediately,” he stated.

Queen bee is a very important asset in the hive as it commands the hive and lives up to four years before it dies of old age. Normal bees live for between 30 and 35 days.

The queen is fed on a special diet called royal jelly, thus the ability to have a longer life span.

“The government will also be producing royal jelly and package it for sale. The jelly is an anti-aging jelly which helps one stay younger,” the specialist said.

Temi said the county is training farmers in modern bee farming methods where 95 per cent of their hives are traditional.

“Apart from training in modern methods of bee farming, we also supply the cooperatives with bee suits, smokers, harvesting buckets, gloves, gumboots among other relevant equipment,” he said.

Katuli Kyungu, a farmer from Kamaki Beekeepers Cooperative Society in Kitui South, lauded the government for the efforts of queen rearing, stating they will pass the acquired knowledge to other members.

“Our cooperative has over 650 members. The colonisation rate is too low but through the training, we will be able to multiply our bees,” the farmer said.

Esther Musaili from the Kalanga Farmers Cooperative Society in Nguni who has 100 hives said she had no idea about multiplication of bees but only waited for bees to settle in her hives.

“I have the knowledge and through it bee farming will be more beneficial to me and to the other farmers," Musaili said.

Edited by Henry Makori