Ugandan bee farmers have been urged to seek advice from entomology officers in their districts to help them in the bee-keeping projects.
Entomology involves the studying insects scientifically.
The call was made by an agriculture ministry official during the launch of the directorate of agricultural extension services at the ministry of agriculture, animal industry and fisheries in Entebbe.
Vincent Rubarema, who is the permanent secretary at the institution, also said that ministry, through the new directorate, was partnering with organizations like The Hive to help in doubling honey production.
In the modern bee-keeping, various equipment like the CAB hive, bee-keepers protective suit, beeswax, hive brand smoker, bee brush, uncapping forks, honey extractor and many others are used to help harvest honey – without killing bees or destroying combs.
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And for that reason, local bee farmers are being encouraged to shift away from the traditional way and adopt more modern techniques of the practice.
During the launch of the new directorate in Entebbe, the above mentioned items were on display.
The new director, Beatrice Byarugaba, said bee farming should cover the whole country if Uganda is to meet the required amount of production.
She said that currently, bee-keeping is booming in areas like West Nile region, Pader, Apac, Lira Mubende and Bushenyi.
A while back, news that honey from Uganda had finally been certified for European markets was received with great optimism by local bee farmers.
This would mean doubling the country’s current production of about 500,000 tonnes a year.
Also in many homes across the country, due to health reasons, honey has replaced sugar when it comes to tea time.
Unfortunately, with all such market opportunities, reports from the ministry indicate that the production for honey is still very low. One of the chief factors for this is farmers sticking to tradition ways of bee-keeping instead of using modern bee farming equipment.
Christopher Nzuki, the chief executive of The Hive explains that a single CAB hive produces around nine to 13kg of honey per harvest compared to the tradition one which gives very little while at the same time destroys the colonies.
He adds that with the modern equipment, harvest can be done six times in a year.
“Traditional bee-keeping is wasteful and injures bees while the modern harvesting leaves enough honey for bees, and comb frames are put back for refill after honey is extracted,” explains Nzuki.
He advises bee-keepers to increase their production, citing the high demand for not only honey but also its byproducts – which he reveals are even more expensive than honey. They include pollen used in the improvement of malnutrition, wax required in many industries for making soap, candles and many other things.
Others are royal jerry which improves fertility and boosts immunity while also delaying the ageing of cells, while honey is sought by many for various health reasons.
The Hive, an organization promoting bee-keeping, so far has branches in 12 countries around Africa including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, Liberia, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and more.
Meanwhile, Kelvin Odoobo, the managing director for The Hive, believes bee farming can also help farmers in bringing more life to their farms.
“For some time in my area around Busia, farmers were complaining of their Mango (commonly known as Doodo) not producing fruits. When I started a bee-keeping project recently, the harvest was overwhelming because of the bees and Mango farmers got cash in their pockets!”
He pointed out that bees are responsible for the pollination of about 80% of the crops that give us food.