Honeybee colony marketing and its implications for queen rearing and beekeeping development in Werieleke District, northern Ethiopia
Government and NGOs are promoting beekeeping as a tool for poverty alleviation in Ethiopia. This increased promotion is creating increasing demand for bee colonies in the Northern part of the country such as Tigray region. Thus, colony marketing is an important venture in Werieleke district of Tigray region. This research was conducted in Nebelet and Maikinetal colony market centres of the district. It investigates the market and its implications through interviewing 120 market actors. Descriptive statistics, ANOVA and Pearson correlations were run using JMP5 statistical package. Traders in Nebelet were men who compose producers and traders. In Maikinetal, they were producers and hunters. Colony traders in Nebelet were experienced in colony multiplication through swarming and able to transport safely from highland areas of 40km radius. Traders in Maikinetal were less experienced youngsters who hunt colonies from valleys of Werie. Customers use the markets as source of colony for start up, expansion and replacement. Several
youth who bought fewer colonies were found in Nebelet implying their attraction to beekeeping as employment option. There was better involvement of women in purchasing colonies as contrasted to selling, which reflect their improving participation in beekeeping. Price of colonies has significantly varied spatially and temporally (P < 0.0001) in association with their number and strength. Regardless of its valuable contribution to beekeeping development, colony marketing has been neglected. Consequently, several constraints were pointed-out as faced in transporting and marketing colonies. Colonies have been flowing from highlands to lowlands, which can cause genetic mix-up, disease transmissions and failure to
adapt. Selling virgin queens and deserting worker bees at market were common practices indicating low understanding of beekeepers on bee biology. Therefore, law should be established in order to standardize colonies and queens sold, conserve bee diversity and avoid disease transmissions. Beekeepers should be empowered to rear queens and multiply their own colonies.
Keywords: Beekeeping, Bee colony marketing, Queen bee rearing