Bee keeping redefines pastoralism in Wajir

Gathering of honey from wild bee colonies. [iStockphoto]

Like many parts of Northern Kenya, 85 per cent of the population in Wajir County are livestock keepers and nomadic pastoralism defines their lifestyle.

However, a new venture is slowly changing fortunes and introducing new economic ventures in the rural arid Kenya.

Malaba Hills beekeeping project is redefining pastoralism by introducing beekeeping as an alternative source of livelihood.

Located in Bute Town, Wajir North, the project, which was started in 2018, has 140 bee hives. The project has renewed hope among the residents.

Honey has several medicinal impacts and the locals can now have the product produced and made in their area. 

The farmers were among those who showcased their products during the Devolution Conference in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County. Supported by Wajir County Government, they sold 93 kilos of honey in Eldoret and have received orders to supply more to other counties.

"There is a lot of effort we have put in before producing the honey. It involves enticing bees with sugary hives and scents. Whenever people are enjoying honey, the should remember the farmer who was stung not once or twice," said a smiling Ahmed Hussein Hassan, chairman of Malaba Beekeepers.

The beekeeping sector has not been fully harnessed in Kenya despite its importance to humans and environment.

"Beekeeping has given me financial freedom and enabled me to be productive in my retirement years. I can now provide for my family’s needs comfortably. This would not have been possible were it not for the bees," he added.

The farmers are supported by donors like USAID through the LMA. The Feed the Future Livestock Market aims to build resilience of communities to shocks and stressors while strengthening potential of pastoralists, community groups, cooperatives and entrepreneurs, enabling ­­households to generate more income within the sector and diversify their incomes.

Beekeeping can have its challenges, such as getting stung by bees, maintaining health of the bee colony can be complex, weather conditions can affect honey production, managing pests and diseases that can the bees, Ensuring the bees have enough food and proper nutrition.