Apiculture farmers in Migori have been encouraged to embrace modern and innovative beehives in order to increase their honey harvest.
An apiculture farmer and support staff at Rongo University, Miyuda Odongo says that Langstroth Hive is one of the most efficient and effective hives to harvest honey from.
Odongo says that apiculture farmers should adapt Langstroth Hive because of its innovative nature of extracting honey, while leaving the combs for continuous honey production.
With an estimated paltry 121,022 Kilogrammes of honey and total consumption of about 50 metric tonnes in Migori County, Odongo notes that it is upon the local residents to embrace apiculture to reap on the untapped venture.
Migori County has a total of 2843 Langstroth hives spread across the Sub counties of Nyakite, Kuria and Suna.
Some 959 Apiculture farmers are still using the traditional long hives, which have lowered the annual production to 121,022 Kilogrammes.
According to the National Beekeeping Policy in Kenya, only 20 percent of the country’s honey production potential estimated at 100,000 metric tons has been tapped so far.
Odongo explains that the Langstroth beehive can also extract waxes through an innovative method referred to as a wax melter that can give apiculture farmers extra cash.
Migori County Livestock Officer Mr. Maxwell Opiyo says the honey production in the county is at an average scale against a consumption rate of over 100,000.
He points out that Nyatike Sub County which is a semi-arid region, with a high potential for producing honey is still underutilized.
Opiyo notes that Nyatike is producing 26,720 of the total 121,022 Kilogrammes produced annually, the highest among all the sub counties.
He notes that although the majority of the farmers have embraced the Langstroth hive, more efforts were needed to enlighten the few that were still embracing the traditional long bee hive.
He notes that the sub county has the highest number of Langstroth hives, an innovation that has seen it produce more than other regions in the county.
“Kuria region still has the highest number of Apiculture farmers that are still using the traditional Long hive. What we are doing is to upgrade these traditional long hives so that farmers can be able to improve honey production,” noted Opiyo.
Prof. Daniel Nyamai a Researcher and Lecturer at Rongo University says that moving lectures from the lecture halls to the farmer’s field is the best way to ensure that apiculture farmers can be able to learn and replicate the same on their farms.
He notes that by interacting with Apiculture farmers through training, knowledge is gained and shared. The University don adds that by using Langstroth Hive the “knowledge economy” will be shared with Kenyan Apiculture farmers to improve honey production in the County.
Universities have become a major influencer of innovation and technology across the country and according to Nyamai, the institutions of higher learning should always ensure that technologies are shared with local residents to uplift their living standards.
The official says apiculture can be very productive just like any farming practice as long as the Migori farmers and entrepreneurs can embrace the venture fully.
He notes that bees are everywhere and all a person needs is an apiary and good vegetation cover that can provide and sustain forage for bees.
“Apiculture is a cheap technology that does not need a lot of resources to start. Langstroth Hive, for example, is a smart technology that small-scale farmers can afford to maintain and generate a lot of income for themselves”, said Nyamai.
Deforestation is still a major factor that undermines apiculture across the county. Before devolution majority of farmers in Migori did practice tobacco farming, where a lot of trees were cut to cater for the tobacco leaf curing process.
Although the forest cover in Migori is at 0.6 percent the county has been trying to plant more trees to achieve the set target of 10 percent.
Nyamai says improved foliage in terms of forest cover may be a trigger that will encourage more farmers to venture into Apiculture.
By Geoffrey Makokha and George Agimba