Makerere University in Conjuction with the Bee Hive Ltd. hold Refresher Course for Uganda’s prospective and active beekeepers
A section of participants inspecting the hives at the established apiary at MUARIK
Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK) in collaboration with the Bee Hive Ltd, Uganda have held a workshop to provide the basic techniques for prospective, intermediate and experienced bee keepers from different regions of Uganda.
The workshop was held on 18th February, 2017 at the Continuing Agricultural Education Centre(CAEC) in Kabanyolo on the theme, “ Is Bee Keeping for me?”.
The workshop attracted participants from Agago, Pader, Gulu, Kapchorwa,, Wakiso, Kampala, Soroti, Kaberamaido, Bushenyi and Hoima among others.
The training was characterized by presentations, demonstrations and field practicals in a well-established apiary on the University farm.
A bee expert, researcher, farmer, community worker and Lecturer from a Kenyan University Dr. E Muli was the main instructor assisted by the Managing Director The Hive Ltd Uganda Ms. Charity Mable Namala and other company members.
The training focused on basic concepts and practices in bee keeping including Bee keeping Breeding and Production for increased productivity. Under this topic, farmers were lectured on Bee ecology and castes, Colony management, Pests and disease, Migration, Pollination, Swarming and Absconding .
Participants putting on protective gear before going to the apiary at MUARIK
A practical demonstration was also set up on Bee keeping Breeding and production and onsite hands on practicals in an established Apiary at Kabanyolo. Another session was punctuated by a Bee keeping video on Bee keeping technologies followed by participants’ reflections from the video.
The training also covered Bee products, Quality aspects and Marketing including honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and venom. The last session of the training was on Beeswax processing and Beewax products before award of certificates of attendance.
The Course Instructor Dr. E Muli from the Eastern University of Kenya who is also Researcher with ICIPE and bee farmer, said the course was about basic things in bee keeping such as equipment, bee biology, how to inspect the colonies and what to do after hives have been colonized . Those interested would be followed up and given advise on how to become better bee keepers.
“We have produced products that you can engage in to improve livelihoods. We khow that bees do pollination for food crops, vegetables, wild trees and forests. So we are sensitizing people on the importance of bees and to decide whether you can be involved in bee keeping, earn money and conserve the environment”. Dr. Muli said.
Participants practically demonstrate steps taken in inspecting the hives by firs smoking
Dr. Muli observed that for the last 10 years, East Africa is still struggling with keeping bees but not transforming the industry into a commercial enterprise. Some people according to the instructor have got it right, others still in the middle while many are struggling.
“Generally, bee keeping is still very under developed. We have the resources like trees, land and water, healthy trees but we seem not to be doing it right because governments in East and Central Africa do not put in much emphasis on bee keeping. So we don’t have enough resources in terms of funds and we lack trained extension persons. So bee keepers are on their own just the way their grand and great grand fathers were on their own”. The Don said and added that:
“We need a mindset where people can just decide because we have changing health styles with a lot of diabetes coming in, high blood pressure so people need to be encouraged to take care of natural foods and one of the natural food in the environment and in the bible is honey. You can use it as food in different forms and there are things we have to work on like create incentives to increase production and market honey and other products”.
Dr. E Muli (Blue T-shirt) demonstrating how honey is ecxtracted using the extractor
Any bee keeper in East Africa, according to Dr. Muli can keep bees and produce the easiest products such as honey, wax and propolis. Wax is got by boiling honey combs, cooling and melting. Honey can be harvested throughout the year and does not require storage conditions. Propolis is a sticky gum found at entrance of the combs that bees collect to prepare combs for the queen bee to lay.
“Everyone can keep bees, we have bees and swarms. you do not need to have expensive hives; even the local hives, you get first class honey; you need to know how to go about harvesting, processing and selling your honey”. The Don explained adding that:
“The first mistake farmers make is not knowing what to harvest. Second do not over smoke or else you get a smoky taste, third, use clean containers for harvesting processing and storage and do not boil or keep honey in hot places because this kills the enzymes”.
A section of participants examining the combs
He said it is difficult to say what good honey is without laboratory tests but if the production system is well-organized and bee keepers trained on harvesting, processing , packaging and transport honey in the right way, chances are very high that what the consumer gets is good honey.
Dr. Muli expressed the need for the Bureaus of Standards in East African countries to come in and have quality controls such that people know what quality of honey is coming from the different countries
“Usually this is not the case. We have done analysis in supermarkets and the quality is very alarming even in imported honey. If you watched TV, you will see adverts on water, milk and other things but not on honey. May be that would be the starting point. Have advertisement on honey and let people know what good honey is like”. He said.
While opening the workshop on behalf of the Director MUARIK, Julius Ahangana outlined the mandates of MUARIK including production, training, Research and Outreach. He said the training was organized by MUARIK in partnership with the Hive Ltd. Uganda.
“We find this training very timely and appropriate because it covers all the four mandates. In production, The Hive Ltd Uganda set up a demonstration and MUARIK is now producing honey and we want to set up a honey processing and handling centre . So this training is fitting into the production mandate of MUARIK”, Mr. Ahangana who is also the Farm Manager MUARIK said.
Mr. Julius Ahangana (R) speaking to participants
He also explained that a university student undertaking Master of Science was being linked to the Bee Hive Ltd Uganda to do research in entomology and more particularly on the bees.
“Outreach is exactly what we are doing today .Through this workshop, we are disseminating information to people which would be gathering dust on the shelf to reach out to people to know more about The Hive and bee keeping.”
Mr. Ahangana also said that the workshop has also provided an opportunity to build the capacity by offering training for three full time staff of MUARIK who will in turn train service learners, visiting farmers, students and people visiting the university farm.
He observed that this kind of training is also geared towards interesting the youth in bee keeping to improve their livelihoods.
“We know that the youth do not own big chunks of land and lack capital. So bee keeping is an avenue where youth can work with forest owners to install hives and earn a living because it does not involve cutting trees or taking away the land”. He observed
Participants practicing what they were given during presentationson the CAB bee hive
Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences signed an MoU with the Hive Ltd. Uganda. The Company’s interest was to market and increase the production of bee products. MUARIK on the other hand, agreed to offer space for demonstration site and venue to train and spread the information on bee keeping . The Hive Ltd Uganda agreed to provide the technical persons and to set up an apiary. The company also makes a contribution towards conference training facilities at CAEC.
“We found that the cost of buying the modern bee hives is high. So we partnered with them and they established an apiary and gave us free 20 CAB bee hives which are used for teaching, research, outreach and honey production. They also give technical people to train staff and farmers and other interested participants”. The Farm Manager stated.
The Managing Director The Hive Ltd Uganda Ms. Charity Mable Namala said The Hive Ltd Uganda is part of The Hive Group operating in 16 African countries particularly Eastern and Western Africa whose mission is to increase bee production.
Ms. Charity Mable Namala explains some of the easiest and lucrative bee products
Ms. Namala said The Hive Ltd started in Uganda in 2013 on realization that the quality of honey and bee products was still wanting.
“We ventured into technologies for protection, harvesting and processing honey. One of these is the CAB Hive that is able to help us to manage bees , improve the quality and harvest a number of products . The way the hive is made is separated by boards and has components to collect clean propolis and pollen”,she said.
Other equipment developed includes the honey extractor and the protective gear. The extractor is manual and a farmer is able to spin the honey which will come out using the centrifugal force.
Some of the equipment -the honey extractor, seive, smoker and the CAB bee hive made by the Hive Ltd Uganda
Ms. Namala said, the company has been working with bee farmers in Agago Karamoja, Nakapiripiri and Moroto, Kamuli, Adjumani Kamwenge and in all these, the Hive Ltd Uganda also provides market for honey products.
“ We support the people to ensure that they have the right equipment and train them to ensure that they have the right skills to manage their bees well to ensure they get what they want.. We also supply to them processing equipment and at the end we buy bee products from them at competitive prices”. Namala said adding that:
“ We buy honey, propolis, nector, bees wax and sell to the end users in national and international markets. For example Japan needs 8.5 tons of beeswax per year and since we don’t have that capacity we keep collecting and buying a kilogram of beewax at shs.15,000 and honey itself at shs.10,000 per kilogram.”
Some of the bee products include propolis, beewax lotion and wax
Namala said the Hive Ltd Uganda signed an MoU with the university after realizing that practical teaching and action research was critical for been keeping.
“We normally give the clients we have been working with an annual refresher course both theoretical and practical. The reason why we are here in MUARIK is the ability to give the theory part and physical demonstration on the established site and practically show people what they should be doing”, Namala said.
She expressed gratitude to MUARIK for providing the space and cooperation to move the project. She said the expected first harvest in April 2017 from the 20 hives installed at MUARIK demonstration site is 400kg of honey. Each hive gives 10 kg of honey and each season, two harvests are made.
According to the sharing agreement the honey will be packaged as MUARIK & The Hive Ltd Uganda honey.
Article Compiled by:
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences