In Uganda bees live as naturally as possible with minimum human intervention to maintain its blessed status thus Bees are protected by Mother Nature. There are more than 20,000species of wild bees. Many species are either solitary or live in small colonies. Beekeeping, or apiculture, is concerned with the practical management of the social species of honey Bees, which live in large colonies of up to 100,000 individuals. The health and welfare of any colony of bees is thus paramount to ensure the best honey. Honeybees gather honey within a radius of 3 km from their hive. As such the placement of these hives is carefully planned. Uganda is blessed with fertile soil the agricultural land is in pristine condition with farmers practicing farming using very little or no chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
Types of Hives
- Traditional Hives for subsistence use
- Modern Hives for commercial use.
The honey harvesting is done with care and understanding of bees. In line with commitment to sustainable beekeeping, ensuring that beekeepers only harvest surplus honey from the colonies.
Production of Honey
In order to produce one pound of honey the bees must bring in about 75,000 loads of nectar into the hive. This amount of flying is equal to roughly four to six times around the circumference of the earth. To process of gathering nectar into honey, the receiving bee will transfer it to a honeycomb cell. Since the water content is high, about ¾ of it must be removed. This is accomplished when the bees distribute themselves throughout the hive and start beating their wings. This fanning not only removes excess moisture but keeps the hive at a constant temperature of 94°F. The lifetime of a worker bee is about six weeks. During that time she will have made only ½ tsp. of honey. The lifespan of a worker bee is merely 45 to 60 days long. Within this short time she will only be able to produce half a tablespoon of honey weighing about 3 grams.
Known Areas in Uganda for Bee keepering
- Kichwamba Beekeeping
- Masaka Beekeeping
- Pabo Beekeeping
- Timothy Centre
- Bee Keeping
- Otinowau Bee Centre
Honey Varieties and Forms
The various forms of honey include liquid, comb, cut-comb, solid (granulated or crystallized), and chunk.
• Honey has an indefinite shelf-life due to its high concentration of sugar.
• Honey should be kept in a cool location away from direct sunlight in a tightly covered container.
• Honey may be frozen although there’s really no need.
Benefits from the Bee
• Honey is eaten by people
• Bee Propolis is a resinous mixture that honey bees collect from tree buds sap flows or other botanical sources; it is used as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the hive.
• Bee pollen
• Royal jelly is the royal jelly that makes the Queen Bee. She is made not born. The eggs laid are all the same. The only difference is that one is singled out to be a Queen and is exclusively fed the royal Jelly all of its life. The other larvae only receive the substance for the first three days of their existence.
Determinates of good Honey
The vegetation around where bees forage determine the flavour, colour and viscosity of the honey.
Quality deteriorates because of poor harvesting and processing methods. Normally it is the human factor that plays the biggest role in compromising the quality of honey.
Bee farmers must harvest only ripe honey, using the proper harvesting method to ensure the honey is not laden with excessive smoke and ashes. At the refinery, the honey extraction, filtering and packing has to be carefully controlled. Throughout the chain of activities, the honey has to be handled with clean equipment and stored under proper conditions.
Support by Government
Government is required to formulate policies that will enhance the growth of the sector. The National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) Program has provided some farmers with beehives and training.
Organisation Supporting Bee Keepers
Api-Trade Uganda is an organization dedicated to supporting the Beekeeping industry. They provide a regional link for producers, buyers and equipment supplier.