For a long time, beekeeping was predominantly perceived as a pursuit reserved for men. However, a paradigm shift is underway, with an increasing number of women embracing beekeeping as a lucrative commercial venture.
Consolata Ouma, a resident of Wang’adonji village in Kendu Bay ward, Homa Bay County, has not only savoured the rewards of beekeeping but is also sharing the sweetness of success with fellow farmers interested in this venture.
“Beekeeping is covering all my expenses, and it’s remarkably profitable,” declares Ouma.
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She emphasizes that while it was something she practiced sporadically in the past, enrolling in a beekeeping training course at the Kenya National Beekeeping Institute in Nairobi in 2020 ignited a transformative journey.
Her husband, Eng Ouma Opiyo, played a pivotal role in convincing her to undertake the course after recognising the profitability of beekeeping, coupled with the availability of suitable land at home.
At their farm, adorned with indigenous trees like Croton megalocarpus, ideal for beekeeping, they witnessed continuous flowering throughout the year, providing ample nectar for honey production.
Post-training, Ouma invested in a beehive at a cost of Sh6,500. Within three months, their first harvest yielded 10 kilograms of honey. As demand soared, they expanded their beehive count to 60, ensuring a steady supply to customers throughout the year.
She explains that a bee farmer typically harvests four times a year per hive, each producing 10 kilogrammes of honey after the initial harvest.
Selling a litre of honey at Sh1,000, their farm, based in Kendubay, Homa Bay County, boasts a shop in Kakamega Bus Park shop No. 39.
Their diverse customer base includes individuals nationwide, churches, companies, and supermarkets.
To maintain a consistent honey supply, Ouma strategically staggers production, enabling the harvest of at least 100 liters every month.
Emphasising the importance of proper apiary setup, she recommends Langstroth beehives for their ease of inspection and harvesting.
The multi-layered structure and removable frames facilitate organised hive construction and honey collection.
Ouma notes that essential beekeeping tools, such as a bee suit, gloves, smoker, hive tool, masking tape, stainless steel sieve, and a bee brush, vary in cost depending on the number of beehives, advocating for a minimum of ten for viable returns.
Under the banner of Pedni Honey Apiaries, they’ve expanded their impact by recruiting 200 farmers in Kenya and an additional 50 new farmers interested in modern beekeeping but lacking time or land.