A green indication post put about a kilometre from Barichu shopping center in Kirinyaga County invites one to Mukithi Bee Farm.
10s of macadamia and avocado trees and banana plants thrive on the farm. From a range, one can hear bees buzzing as they look for nectar and pollen from the plants.
Strolling on the farm to make sure whatever goes right is owner Gathirimu Kabuthi. The farmer invites the Seeds of Gold group and after exchanging pleasantries, he leads us to his apiary, situated at the back of the tree-acre farm, hosting 100 hives.
” I began beekeeping 7 years ago with just 5 hives after injecting Sh15,000 capital in business. Of the 100 hives, about 50 are inhabited,” he states, keeping in mind the number decreased when the location was sprayed to regulated locusts.
Kabuthi states that the capital went on building and construction of the Kenya Top Bars hives that he utilizes. Each hive expense him Sh3,000 He later on purchased harvesting tools such as bee fit, gloves and gumboots.
” The leading bar hives have actually served me well for many years however I wish to diversify to Langstroth hives which host 2 or more boxes, indicating I will have the ability to increase my honey production.”
The Langstroth hive, according to him, has actually more area compared to the leading bar making it much easier to preserve the brooding chambers.
His interest in beekeeping was fired up by among his uncles several years back, he states, who challenged him to keep bees to fulfill need for honey that at first was utilized to deal with conditions like coughs in kids. To date, Kabuthi states need for honey is too expensive that he hardly collects enough for his customers.
He collects a minimum of 500 kilos of honey after every 4 months when the conditions are ideal and costs Sh1,000 each, all of it in less than 2 weeks.
” The use of honey has actually widened for many years implying that beekeeping is among the most profitable companies,” keeps in mind Kabuthi.
According to the farmer, the initial step into beekeeping is setting up the hives to bring in the bees.
” They ought to be tidy and put in an appropriate location that is far from sound and human activities. The hives ought to likewise be kept at least a metre apart.”
As Soon As this is done, he uses beeswax in the hives to draw in the bees.
” It takes about a week prior to they fill the very first hive. It is typically a procedure as the pests initially concern hunt the hives, examine if the conditions are best prior to going back to fill them.”
The very first harvest can be found in about 9 months, however subsequent harvesting are figured out by the blooming of the surrounding crops.
” In each of the hives there have to do with 60,000 bees. In a year, I collect as much as 10 litres of honey from a single hive. If the weather condition is excellent, ideally dry, one can gather 2 or 3 times in a year. The drier the weather condition, the much better for bees in honey production since when it is cold, they consume what they produce lowering the harvest.”
High quality honey
He begins gathering the honey at about midnight due to the fact that at that hour, he states, the bees are not likely to get ‘upset’ and sting him.
He dissuades farmers from smoking the pests as this often jeopardizes the quality of the honey. “When farmers smoke the hives to collect honey, there are high possibilities of having smoke residue in the honey which is bad for the taste of the general item.”
Kabuthi, 70, who runs business with his spouse and farms other crops, has actually not ventured into the retail market however offers the honey to his neighbours and clients described him.
After collecting, he sieves the honey and after that packages the fruit and vegetables in 100 ml to one litre bottles that go from Sh100 to Sh1,000
He prepares to begin making beeswax, candle lights and other items for additional earnings.
Kabuthi, who has actually trained at the National Beekeepers School situated in Lenana, Nairobi, states having understanding in the bees is essential to success.
Among his primary obstacles is parasites that make bees to deflect the hives. “The most frustrating are wasps. Beekeepers need to continuously examine their hives to eliminate them and others like ants.”
For quality honey, states Kabuthi, one need to have great forage around the farm for the bees to get nectar and an excellent source of water must be near.
” One ought to guarantee they do not utilize any chemicals on the farm to secure the pests. We are fortunate that our neighbours just grow maize which do not need any type of spraying.”
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To prevent adulteration of his honey, he does not offer to 3rd parties however provides the items to clients personally.
Kabuthi states the organized intro of a costs to control the beekeeping sector is welcome however the policies need to be friendlier to farmers.
” What I like about the proposed expense is the insurance coverage part since an occurrence can occur on the farm hence one gets compensated.”
Joel Masobo, a bee expert from Egerton University, states to begin beekeeping, a farmer needs to perform a study that will notify him on where the beekeeping must be done.
This consists of doing flower mapping to examine the schedule of flowers for nectar production. Second, a farmer ought to think about security.
” Bees threaten and the hives need to be kept not less than 100 metre radius from the primary roadway, domestic animals and people,” he states.
He even more mentioned that farmers need to think about water resources as the bees require natural water either from a stream or tap to cool down the hive and water down the honey. Therefore there should be a continuous supply of water.