We have noted that in the recent past years bee population is declining because of human activities through the cutting down of trees that act as their home and source of raw materials for making honey. According to researchers, the bee population is declining to the extent that only 60% of beehives are colonized and 40% remain empty.
According to Dr Lawrence Mayega abnormal changes in air temperatures and increasing frequency and intensity of droughts are contributing to the high mortality of bees, a situation that has progressively reduced their population.
At our farm, we are blessed with different flora and fauna that attracts bees and we have planted a variety of flowers and have established a number of water ponds. We also established an apiary with an aim of protecting the bees and having them confined in one place.
Our main focus was on revamping the bee population and the honey we would harvest once we establish an apiary however this was not a bed of roses,
We have encountered a number of challenges during the process of establishing on apiary on the farm.
The following is a list of the key ones and of the ways we have applied to reduce the negative impact.
Lack of trained manpower
We did not have adequate trained manpower with practical knowledge on beekeeping, to make matters worse the bee extension staff from the district are not adequate in number and lack practical knowledge about beekeeping. We have tended to rely on the few experts we have on bees for advice but they are few and overstretched
Bees require an adequate supply of water within easy reach from the apiary. We are lucky that we have adequate water sources on the farm. There is a stream of the river that meanders through the farm and we have also dug a number of fish ponds that provide a source of water for the bees.
Inadequate resources for an awareness program
The community responded positively to our bee awareness program with so many alerts of the existence of bees for rescue. We soon run out of bee hives and resources to finance the rescue operations. We have embarked on intensifying the planting of more flowering plants on the farm in order to increase its bee carrying capacity and we have also started to make bee hives on the farm. We are now in the process of looking for the resources to resume rescue operations.
Extensive use of pesticides
The application of pesticides and pests on the farm has the effect of killing or repelling insects including bees. We have been using pesticides for plant disease control on the farm but we are now considering bee-friendly options for disease control. We do not apply pesticides near the apiary and if we have to apply the chemicals we use them late in the evening so that the negative impact is reduced by the following morning.
Extensive use of weed control herbicides
We are currently consulting experts for advice on the impact of using weed control herbicides on the apiary. We plan to take appropriate action as soon as we receive the advice.
Inadequate bee food
The amount of honey and other byproducts the bee hive will produce will depend on the availability of sources of nectar, propolis, and pollen within easy reach of the apiary. Bee food does not appear to be a problem as the area has no other apiary nearby. But there is a danger of bees getting poisoned as they search for food as there is extensive use of pesticides and weed control chemicals by the local community.
There is a need for a community approach with the support of the government in overcoming the above challenges because of their impact on the bee population. The destruction of the bee population will have a negative impact on the productivity of food plants.