Burkina Faso: Farmer keeps bees to boost income and protect the environment

| January 23, 2024

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Yan Floran Millogo is a beekeeper in Yabasso, Burkina Faso who keeps bees not only to boost his income but also to conserve the environment. In 2018, Mr. Millogo and other beekeepers joined the Scoops-AY co-operative and learned about the significance of bees as pollinators. Bees contribute to the food production of small-scale farmers globally, pollinating over 75% of the world's food crops. By placing hives strategically, Mr. Millogo helps prevent excessive deforestation and creates safe havens for wildlife. Beekeeping has become a lucrative source of income, with beekeepers selling a variety of products that benefit the community, including honey, juices, and ointments. Mr. Millogo owns 20 hives and earns up to 300,000 CFA francs ($500 US) annually.

It’s a Sunday afternoon about one p.m. in Yabasso, in the Hauts-Bassins region about 50 kilometres west of Bobo-Dioulasso in Burkina Faso. Mr. Millogo has finished his worship and is getting ready to fetch water. He needs to give water to his bees, whose hives are about 10 kilometres from his house.

Mr. Millogo keeps bees to boost his income by selling honey, and also to contribute to environmental conservation. He says: “Beekeeping is a tradition for us. I learned to raise bees with my father to produce honey. But during training, I learned that bees also contribute to tree reproduction. So, I doubled my efforts in beekeeping.” 

In 2018, Mr. Millogo joined a co-operative of beekeepers in Yabasso known as Scoops-AY. With support from an environmental intervention fund, he received training in beekeeping techniques. Mr. Millogo and 29 other co-operative members also received education on how bees contribute to plant and agricultural reproduction as pollinators. He says, “I understood how beneficial this activity could be for me and for plants.”

Nazé Abdoulaye Konaté is a water and forestry inspector at the provincial environmental office in Bobo-Dioulasso. He says that beekeeping promotes plant development. And bees are part of the biodiversity that needs preservation. They are known as the best pollinators of plants. Bees can collect pollen from 250 flowers per hour and store 500,000 grains of pollen on a single leg. 

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, bees and other pollinating insects improve the food production of two billion small-scale farmers worldwide by pollinating food plants. Approximately 90% of flowering plants depend on pollination for reproduction, with bees pollinating 71% of food-producing plants, both wild and domestic.

Pollination involves transferring pollen from a plant’s male reproductive organ, the stamen, to the female organ of the flower, called the pistil. Mr. Konaté explains, “This means that without bees, the most active group of pollinators, almost all the plants we use for food, medicine, or clothing would disappear.”

Mr. Millogo found that the techniques he learned during training are very useful. He says, “In addition to bee knowledge, we also learned how to place a hive.” Beekeepers should place hives away from noisy areas like public places, residences, and roads, and preferably under a shady tree like a mango, shea, or cashew. Keepers must also provide bees with water. When harvesting honey, keepers should use smoke to calm the bees, who are very sensitive to stress. 

Mr. Millogo says that placing hives in forests contributes to environmental protection by preventing excessive deforestation. He adds: “Bees attack you when you make noise. So, where there are hives, people avoid going to these places to cut wood. These places also become a safe haven for wildlife such as birds, squirrels, and other insects.”

Mr. Konaté says that beekeeping has become a job and a source of income. For example, women make juices, alcoholic beverages, and ointments from honey and other bee products. Artisans use beeswax during the process of making metals such as bronze. Royal jelly is used in the production of pharmaceutical drugs. He says that Mr. Millogo, who owns 20 hives, earns up to 300,000 CFA francs ($500 US) per year. 

Mr. Konaté concludes, “Bees preserve biodiversity and are a great asset to agriculture and production of trees and shrubs. Therefore, they must be protected.”

This resource was produced with a grant from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and IDRC of Canada. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, nor those of IDRC or its Board of Governors.