World Bee Day takes place on May 20th each year. The aim is to promote the vital roles bees play as one of the main pollinators of our plants and crops, ensuring food production is maintained and contributing to biodiversity and other ecosystems.
The theme for World Bee Day 2023 is: ‘Bee engaged in pollinator-friendly agricultural production.’ Bees are crucial for ensuring our food security. Almost three quarters of the crops we eat depend on bees and other pollinators. However, many bee species and other pollinators are declining due to human-driven climate change.
Beekeeping also offers a route out of poverty to farmers in Africa. This is because bees help pollinate crops, increase crop yields and produce honey which can be eaten and sold for extra income. Beekeeping is also not reliant on good soils or rainfall, which makes it a great climate-smart option and diversification enterprise for the small-scale farmers Self Help Africa work with.
The MORE Honey project in Uganda, which Self Help Africa implements alongside local and international partners, is a good example of this. Established in 2019, MORE Honey is on course to create employment and income opportunities for over 2,000 people in Karamoja.
The project has not just improved the quality and production of honey. MORE-Honey has also supported the mobilisation of beekeepers into producer groups. This has enabled beekeepers to harvest both high quality honey, and realise the benefits of byproducts including beeswax and propolis. Markets for all three products are being established locally, regionally and internationally.
“Most of the materials that we use to build the hives are sourced from around the community” says Ponciano Okot, a local bee farmer from Kitgum who trains groups on beehive fabrication. A new bulking centre has also been built to store honey correctly after harvesting.
With climate change making it more and more difficult to earn a living from farming, beekeeping is an excellent alternative livelihood. “Beekeeping has given me a second income and with that I have been able to buy more goats and start a business for my wife” confirmed Samson Lorianako, a local farmer and project participant.