3 minute read

A course to consider Beekeeping in Rural Development

by Nell Holt-Wilson 

In August and September 1998 Bees for Development held another extremely successful Beekeeping in Rural Development Course at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, and Njiro Wildlife Research Centre in Arusha District, Tanzania.

Participants from Botswana, Ethiopia, India, Jamaica, Nepal, Tanzania, United Kingdom and Zimbabwe made this month-long Course truly international, and prompted lively discussions. There was learning from fellow participants, as well as from the international experts who lectured on the Course.

The first two weeks at Cardiff University involved an intensive study period with lectures and workshops. Subjects ranged from bee biology and genetics to extension techniques and preparing project proposal

The following two weeks at Njiro Wildlife Research Centre in Tanzania focused on practical beekeeping techniques. Time was spent in the apiaries handling bees and studying the good and bad aspects of different management methods. Appropriate methods of beekeeping were discussed in relation to the different races of bees and habitats throughout the world.

For some it was the first opportunity to meet Apis mellifera scutellata. This bee’s strongly defensive behaviour was seen to require different management from that required for European and Asian honeybees. After many years of research, Njiro Wildlife Research Centre has confirmed that ‘minimum management’, or put another way, ‘minimum disturbance’, is best for the honeybees of East Africa.

Learning about appropriate hive design and construction is another important component of the practical training in Tanzania. Through working with bees in many different designs of hives it was seen that almost any container can be used to keep bees, as long as it is of a  good volume and shape, secure, dry and out of the reach of pests and predators.

The disadvantages of using frame hives for beekeeping with Apis mellifera scutellata were evident:

- the spaces between frames allowed bees to fly out of the hive to harass the beekeeper during harvest;

- the fragility of the frames and the large amount of propolis caused the frames to break when taken out of the hive during harvesting;

- it is difficult to hang hives with supers out of reach of predators such as honey badgers and ants.

The participants all took part in making top-bar hives in the Centre’s workshop. This was also the venue for processing honey and beeswax, and making secondary bee products. The participants worked on making candles and cosmetics. It all seemed very easy! In fact this is the message that the Centre tries to convey to all students who attend the Course.

The programme included field trips to other Districts in Tanzania and participants met people and organisations involved in beekeeping training and promotion. This gave an opportunity to learn about beekeeping extension, and the great benefits of integrating beekeeping into all agricultural, developmental and forestry programmes. 

The Course was intensive and hard work and all the participants learnt great amount whilst having fun time. All those who can find funding to attend in 1999 should not hesitate!

Important note: 

Bees for Development is not a funding agency and cannot provide financial support for you to attend this Course: participants must locate their own sponsorship.