Get in touch with us today.
  • Comments: 0
  • Posted by: admin

Women Beekeepers for Life

Beekeeping is an agricultural branch in which beekeepers take care of honey bee colonies in order to collect honey and other hive products such as bee wax, propolis, pollen, royal jelly among other products. In Kenya, beekeeping is practiced majorly in arid and semi-arid areas (ASALs). As a matter of facts, eighty percent of the honey in Kenya comes from the ASAL areas with the rest being from non ASAL areas and imports from the neighboring counties of Tanzania and Uganda. Only twenty percent of the country’s honey potential has been tapped. Generally, beekeeping is seen as a men’s role and domain. Men offer security, repairs the hives, harvests and markets the processed honey. Men carry out most of the work and women are assigned roles that go hand in hand with their gender roles. Most of the time, women interact with honey and other hive products during value addition process. 

The Baraka Women Beekeeping project intends to change this narrative and demonstrate without doubt that women can also be successful beekeepers. The project is a project of Baraka Women Beekeeping group located in Eldoret town of Uasin Gichu County Kenya. Eldoret is the county’s largest population centre as well as its administrative and commercial centre. Uasin Gishu is located on a plateau and has a cool and temperate climate. Agriculture is the main stay economic activity in the county, with Eldoret town also hosting several food products industries, a vibrant textile industry and a small arms and ammunition manufacturing industry.  

Although the area has a great potential for beekeeping, the practice is not common. Most of the people associate bees with stinging and bees phonia is rife. Majority of the people who engage in honey sales normally import the same from the neighboring Baringo county with some harvesting wild honey. Commercialization of beekeeping is relatively a new concept. As attested by the local ward agriculture officer, “I didn’t know that beekeeping is such an interesting venture. I have learnt quite a lot on the benefits from the training and I will lobby my bosses to invest in beekeeping. My what I have learnt today, I can now understand why my former colleague, Ms Mitei left the service and is now a fulltime commercial beekeeper and trainer. I will be attending the training sessions so I can also develop a retirement plan i.e. commercial beekeeping” 

Dinah Nyang’ara is the group’s chairman. From the training delivered to the group, she notes: “When we were making the request for support, I really didn’t conceptualize the whole idea. When one of us suggested that we keep bees, I thought that the funding support will bring us ready honey for us to commercialise. I now understand the concept and I can see that beekeeping has a lot to offer including pollination. I honestly thought that pollination is mainly through wind and bees have no role to play” 

According to the women members of the Baraka group, is traditionally a men’s affair and women were not culturally permitted to practice beekeeping due to the perceived risks. According to Josephine Bosobori, “A long time ago, when we were young, I used to see my father and other old men place hives at very high points such as above trees and hills. In my home area, beekeeping was seen as a male trade. Honey was a high value product and women were not allowed to keep it. Within that village setup, engaging in the marketing of honey would be seen as though they want to compete with men. I guess, the men wanted the woman to financially fully depend on them.”  

Skills and protective equipment empower women across Africa

In Kenya, beekeeping is not an attractive option for women because of cultural issues, inadequate skills on beekeeping, gender stereotypes as well as the multiple roles that take much of their time leaving no time for them to practice beekeeping.  As observed by some writers, women are faced by some limitations that hinder their full participation in beekeeping, mostly owing to their gender triple role. Some of these constraints include time constrain, inability to climb up trees and harvest honey from traditional log hives as well as the nature of bees kept in the area. African bee, Apis Millifera is very aggressive and women because of bee phobia get discouraged (Chemurot, 2011, Qaiser, Ali, Taj, & Akmal, 2013). Other constraints include the fact that honey harvesting is carried out mostly at night when women are mostly carrying out household chores (Qaiser, Ali, & Taj, 2013). The introduction of modern beekeeping in this group is meant to address these constrains among other hinderances that discourage women participation in beekeeping.  “I thought all hives have to be hanged on top of trees as I have seen in other places. I never knew that one can use “boxes” (hives) and make bees come live in them. I now know that it’s not a must to have them hanged on trees” says Ms Mettoo. “I have a large piece of land which is unexploited and I will plan on how I can have my own hives” she further adds.  

Bees Abroad through its in county implementing partner, has been delivering training to the members of the Baraka Women Beekeeping Groups and other groups in Kenya. The intervention is meant to promote household food security and incomes through beekeeping. A value chain approach is applied in delivering the training. So far, the group has been trained on introduction to beekeeping, group development and dynamics of growth, team building and hive making.  

“I thought hive making is a complex issue, but from the theory and practical training, I can confortably make my own hive” says Jane Amaleba 

Author: admin

Leave a Reply