A study carried out in northern Kenya in 2007, found out that honey production is expanding in Kenya but, data on production trends, processing and marketing is fragmented.
Introduction of better technology hives can significantly improve the yields and quality of bee products. Local marketing systems should be strengthened through organisation between traders and beekeepers. To enhance the market competitiveness, honey requires improved processing and quality assurance.
The Kenya honey council was formed in 2003. The council provides a forum for stakeholders in the bee industry to promote, coordinate and safeguard their interests, facilitate growth, expansion and promote awareness of bee products and keeping.
There is need for comprehensive development in apiculture sector that embraces all the key stakeholders in the value chains so that the development of beekeeping becomes self running and perpetual.
For perpetual development to occur, it calls for sound policies so that finally beekeeping does not only pick up for a short run but the development becomes self running and perpetual.
For this to happen there is need for sound policies so that in time the impact is tangible in terms of increasing the number of beekeepers and the number of honey bee colonies, increase in quality honey production, better technologies in post harvest handling of honey and all the more increase in crop productivity through pollination services by bee services.
For instance in the Egerton University Travel Report- Honey Bee/ Mushroom Technological Packages May 25th- June 2nd 2013, while the team was on their way to Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) honey processing unit for an excursion, they met with marketers on the roadside selling unbranded honey and one farmer association selling branded honey.
The team (selected members of the Egerton University, Punjab Agricultural University and Ohio State University) conducted excursion at the Rokocho honey processing centre, where they discovered that the facility has the capacity to collect 100,000 tonnes of honey but is funding to purchase honey from farmers. The facility has seen an increase in honey production and this financial year may surpass its target of honey collection.
The facility sells its honey in selected supermarkets and has had problems with meeting the demand. The facility has had the challenge of convincing farmers to keep bees because beekeeping as an enterprise has been looked down upon in comparison to other livestock production systems.
Excursion conducted by the team at KVDA in Kabarnet town, which is a honey production equipment designing and fabricating workshop arm of the Kerio valley development authority.
The workshop fabricates among other equipments both longs troth and KTBH hives. They sell the equipment to farmers and give advisory services on beekeeping and general management practises.
The workshop also experiments on traditional log hive and the potential of introducing a queen excluder to enhance production.
The team also visited Kapkuikui farmers association in Baringo.
This is a group of farmers organised under the auspices of Kapkuikui livestock improvement initiative. This group sells branded honey (Lake Bogoria Acacia Honey). Through sourced funding, the group started to put up a honey processing facility which is yet to be completed.
In all the visits, the general assessment based on the interaction with key stakeholders in value chain including beekeepers, trainers, processors and packers, hive and equipment manufacturers and honey hawkers; it was found out that there are certain weaknesses and strengths in beekeeping development in Kenya.
The strengths of Honey Production in Kenya include;
- Great diversity and availability of bee flora
- Large honey product and honey production potential
- Beekeepers are receptive to the new technologies
- Availability of honey procurement, processing and marketing facilities by both the government and private entities
- Easy loan facilities from banks
- Existence of hive manufacturing organisation among many more
The Weaknesses of Honey Production in Kenya Include;
- Lack of research for technical back up
- Lack of specialised and experienced human resource
- Lack of enthusiasm among farmers in starting beekeeping and expansion
- Lack of desired level of forward backward linkages between technical experts and end users
- Lack of conviction power among trainers for dispelling bad practises
- Continued deterioration in existing bee stock
- Lack of knowledge about honey handling and maintenance of honey quality among others
There is need to understand our bees; their absconding and migration. Absconding is as a result of disturbance from man or pests. There has been an intervention in India where the absconding instinct is at its least. Breeding work has to be taken in Kenya because at the moment our bees are still wild.