Bee-keeping has enormous potential for income-generation, poverty alleviation, and for diversifying Uganda’s export base. It is a low-investment venture most people can undertake.
It is environmentally friendly and viable in areas less productive for agriculture. Bee products, such as honey, beeswax, propolis, and royal jelly are essential for pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
Honey and beebrood are potential sources of carbohydrate and protein for malnourished communities
As early as 2005, Uganda was licensed to export honey to the European Union, creating an immense opportunity which was unfortunately unexploited. Uganda’s annual honey production is about 5,000 tonnes which is only 1% of an estimated potential.
There are cases when bees take long to enter the new hives yet unoccupied hives do not produce honey. Place the hives in places with a lot of bee forage and water.
Use beeswax on the top bars and beeswax, propolis or lemon grass inside the hive to act as baits.
In case pests, such as ants, lizards or rats nest in the hives, clean them. Remove any dirt, spiders, cobwebs or insects that might capture the bees and prevent them from entering the hive.
Bees can be deliberately put into the hive in order to colonise the hives. For example, you can capture a wild swarm and put it into the empty hive. Swarming happens when the colony gets too big and the bees want to reproduce the colony by making a new queen.
The beekeeper can capture the swarm and place it into a temporary or permanent hive. The swarm has a better chance of staying in its new hive, if it is captured during flowering seasons.
The beekeeper can also transfer bees from one hive into another. It is possible to transfer bees from a wild nest or from a traditional hive in order to populate the hive or divide an existing colony into two.
The should choose the most productive and docile colony to make divisions to increase his colonies. Make divisions after the honey flow season to increase colony numbers.
The best time to divide a colony is when the bees are getting ready to swarm. The beekeeper can buy a colony. Some beekeepers are already buying colonized hives in Nakaseke, Luwero and Nakasongola districts. Experienced and well-resourced beekeepers can carry out queen rearing for mass production of colonies.
Beekeepers should avoid absconding of colonies, leading to losses in honey yields. Absconding is where all the bees in the colony abandon the hive completely.
Absconding should not be confused with swarming where the bees divide themselves to reproduce. African bees often leave their hives by absconding instead of the normal swarming process.
To avoid absconding, some combs full of honey should be left for the bees when harvesting.