Nelly Bassily | July 30, 2012
As pollinators, honey bees are a critical link in our planet’s biodiversity, and in human diets. It’s hard to overstate the importance of bee pollination. But try imagining a world with few or no cashews, watermelons, kola nuts, cucumbers, squashes, carrots, mangoes, passion fruit, avocadoes, or vanilla. Many other crops would also be hard hit without bee pollination. For more, have a look at the table on this website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_crop_plants_pollinated_by_bees
Bees are essential for the environment and for human food. On top of this, beekeeping can help even the poorest and most isolated communities. Beehives can be made of local materials. Beekeeping is not time-consuming and can be done as a supplement to farming. Beekeeping can increase incomes and food security. Bee products such as honey and propolis are used medicinally. Good pollination improves crop yields and farmers’ profits. Selling honey and beeswax can help pay for schooling or hospital bills.
However, like all other enterprises, beekeeping is not always successful. For example, bees may not do well in very dry climates. Beekeepers may be using donated equipment that is not suitable or requires expensive additions or maintenance. Beekeepers need technical assistance like other livestock keepers. Finally, beekeepers may have good production skills, but fail because of poor financial or marketing abilities.
Here is a technical manual called Beekeeping in the tropics: http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/AD32.pdf
And another called Bee products: http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/AD42.pdf
Farm Radio International has published several radio scripts on beekeeping. You can browse our livestock and beekeeping scripts at: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/livestock.asp
Farm Radio Weekly has distributed several stories on beekeeping.
Malawi: Adding value sweetens profits for honey producers (FRW #18, April 2008)
South Africa: Ancient brew has Eastern Cape buzzing with employment opportunities (FRW #10, February 2008) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/02/11/south-africa-ancient-brew-has-eastern-cape-buzzing-with-employment-opportunities-various-sources/
You may find these FRW Notes to broadcasters helpful:
Notes to broadcasters on honey products (FRW #18, April 2008): http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/04/14/notes-to-broadcasters-on-honey-products/
Ask farmers and extension agents about beekeeping in your listening area. Perhaps there are well-known or expert beekeepers you can interview in the studio or in the field. Do local beekeepers work full-time handling bees, or do they supplement their farming incomes with a few hives? Some areas produce honey that is unique for one reason or another – is your area one of them?
Are there women as well as men beekeepers? If not, why not? How do beekeepers sell their products in your area? Do they sell directly to consumers? Or perhaps through traders who transport their bee products to town markets.