3 minute read

Zooming in on Ghana

Size

238,537 km (92,100 miles)

Population

13,704,000

Geography

Ghana is in West Africa. The South and West are covered by dense rainforest, while narrow grassy plain stretches inland from the coast. In the North are forested hills beyond which are dry savannah and open woodland. In the far North is plateau of 500m. The Black and White Volta rivers enter Ghana from Burkina Faso and merge into the world’s largest man- made lake, Lake Volta

Climate

Tropical. Rainy season April-July.

Main crops

Cocoa is the main cash crop: in recent years Ghana has suffered from the low world price for cocoa. Other widely grown crops include Citrus spp, coffee, cotton and oil palm. 

Honeybees

Apis mellifera adansonii. Beekeepers in Ghana find this bee highly defensive, and colonies abscond readily.

Beekeeping

Honey hunting resulting in the destruction of wild colonies is still practised. Traditional beekeeping methods are also used widely. In the Volta region log hives are made from old Royal Palm trunks. In the North clay pots and gourds are used as containers for bees, and in the Central region clay pots of different design are used. The crushed stalks of the “bakyem” vine (Adenia cissampeloides) are used to produce bees.

Frame hives (modified Langstroth and Dadant) have been in use since at least the 1960s. Top- bar hives were first introduced to Ghana in the late 1970s, and promoted by number of projects during the 1980s, There is much debate between Ghanaian bee experts as to which design of hive is most appropriate. The Bielby hive (a low-technology frame hive) has also been tested.

Number of beekeepers

There are many beekeepers, most with less than 20 hives.

Melliferous vegetation

Major flowering periods occur at the beginning and end of the rainy season. Species of acacia, albizia, cassia, citrus, eucalyptus, gmelina, hibiscus, neem, palm, and sunflower, are important for bees along with many other native species. 

Production

Honey: price varies between (the local equivalent of) 1.5 and 6$ per litre. Beeswax is much in demand for use in the lost-wax method of casting bronze ornaments.

Honeybee diseases

Ghana is in the very fortunate position of no bee diseases having so far been found.

Beekeeping Association

Ghana Beekeepers’ Association, Airport-Accra.

Training

The Apiculture Promotion Unit of the Technology Consultancy Centre has provided beekeeping training to several thousand Ghanaians and many from outside Ghana. It also encourages equipment manufacture and supply, and generally has done much to promote beekeeping by seminars, workshops and exhibitions.

Research

Research on honeybees and carpenter bees is carried out at the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, and by other individual researchers. 

Support for projects

In recent years beekeeping has been assisted and promoted by number of projects including: The GRATIS Project, National Service Secretariat, Presbyterian Church, and Salvation Army. Funding for these has been provided by CIDA (Canada), GTZ (Germany), Oxfam and several other organisations. FAO and VSO have provided technical assistance, and IFS has sponsored individuals’ research projects.

Journal

Ghana Bee News, The Editor, Technology Consultancy Centre, University of Science and Technology, Kumasi.

GRATIS News (often carries beekeeping information): David Clare, Ministry of Industries, Tema.

Publications

The golden insect: a handbook on beekeeping for beginners by S Adjare (1984) 112 pages.

Beekeeping in Africa by S Adjare (1990) 130 pages.

Both these publications are available for purchase from Bees for Development.

Zoom into Ghana this November for the Second West Africa Beekeeping Research Seminar. This meeting is organised by Ghana Beekeepers’ Association and will be held in Aburi Botanical Gardens For further details see Look Ahead on page 12.