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Bee keepers decry low yield

Spray chemicals, honey badger, moth and ants have been cited as a major threat to bee keepers in Laikipia County that has resulted in low harvest.

Ilpolei Twala cultural Manyatta women group based in Laikipia North and which has been engaging in bee keeping activities said that, after the sprays that were done to contain locust’s invasion in early 2020 a lot of bee colonies died and honey production declined.

“We used to produce more honey during September when acacia trees flower, but recently when there was locust’s invasion, the bee colony went down.  We attributed the decline to sprays that were aimed at eradicating locusts, “revealed Rosemary Nenini, the Founder and Director of Iloplei Twala Cultural Manyatta Women group.

She added that, “The sprays make the bees inactive, they move slowly and especially in morning hours they are docile.”

Kenya’s farmers faced a lot of unprecedented waves of locusts’ invasion three years ago and some of the chemicals used were Ultra-Low Volume formulation chemicals, they were sprayed in the air.

Nenini said that due to the ongoing drought in the area, ants also severely affected bees attacking them in the bee hives.

Ilpolei Twala cultural Manyatta women group started in 2007 and has membership of 203 from six women groups from Laikipia North Sub County.

Nenini further revealed that they use Langstrong and top bar bee hives, and when they harvest honey which they said had declined, they sell locally and their money is shared among the members at the end of the year as dividend. The group has 120 bee hives.

In 2019, they harvested over 92 buckets of honey of twenty Kilograms and sold each at Sh.9500 to Oljogi limited, among other customers of which Nenini said it sustained them financially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Laikipia County Livestock Director Pius Butichi said pests and honey badgers are the most threat to bee keepers in the region.

“We have diseases but pests are the most serious one in the county and the hives don’t have bees. They have been forced to swarm away,” said Butichi.

Butichi said Chumvi and Timau areas are affected due to chemicals sprayed in the surrounding farms.

He revealed the county government is keen on training beekeepers on how to do conservation and retain bees in the hives.

By Muturi Mwangi

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