Practices and challenges of beekeeping in Chiro District of West Hararghe Zone, Eastern Oromia, Ethiopia
Ethiopia is the leading honey producer in Africa and one of the ten largest honey producing countries in the world. However, low productivity and poor quality of honey and other bee products are the major constraints faced by honey producers. The exact number of people engaged in honey production and the challenges they face are not well known. Lack of documented information on honey production and challenges hinders extension supports. Therefore, a survey was conducted in Chiro district (woreda) in 2013/2014 with the objective of eliciting information on practices of honey production, beekeeping management systems and associated challenges faced by honey producing farmers in the study area. Six representative peasant associations were selected using a purposive sampling method. A total of 120 beekeepers were interviewed on major beekeeping management practice and challenges they were facing. The results were subjected to descriptive statistics using SPSS. Of all the respondents, only 8 (6.7%) were women. A total of 863, 818 traditional beehives and 45 modern beehives were owned by the respondents. The average numbers of traditional and modern beehives owned per respondent were 6.87 and 0.38 respectively. Only 58.8% of the traditional beehives and 46.7% of the modern beehives were colonized by bees while the remaining ones were empty. Most (53.4%) of the respondents kept the beehives under the roof of their houses where as 30.7% kept them in the garden; 15.1% inside the house, and the 0.8% on trees. The main sources of the foundation colony were three, i.e., catching bee swarms, gift from family, and buying. The major challenges were shortage of bee colonies, escalating prices of modern hives and their accessories as well as low level of extension services. It is concluded that honey production in the study area is dominated by traditional practices, and constrained by shortage of bee colonies, inadequate farmers’ technical know-how and practical skills, high prices of modern hives and their accessories, lack of practically supported extension services on modern beekeeping technologies, incidences of pests, low participation of women, and lack of year-round availability bee forage. The results imply that the sector needs tangible supports from the extension system in terms of improved technologies as well as in building knowledge of farmers for better management of honey bees to increase productivity and income of households through honey production.
Keywords: Absconding; Bee colony; Beehives; Beekeeping; Respondents; Swarming
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