Bad weather patterns, use of harmful farm chemicals and poor management of hives, are being blamed for the difficult times that beekeepers are going through in Nyandarua.
While apiaries are recording more than 50 per cent decline in honey production, others are completely dry. Lack of skills in beekeeping has also been pointed out as one of the factors leading to a mass exodus of swarms.
Mr Victor Mwaura, a farmer from the lower Ndaragua region, owns 50 beehives, and only about 15 have honey whose amount is far less than the amount traditionally harvested this peak season.
“The poor harvest was shocking, but the decline started last year. I used to harvest between 10kgs and 18kgs per beehive, but the production has gone to less than10kgs, mostly between 5kgs and 8kgs per beehive.
There is also an infestation of new insects and mites that never affected the hives before. “I have for the first time had my hives infested with Varoa mites, which are very destructive. I do not know how to treat them,” said Ms Mary Wairimu from Ndaragua.
What is the county doing?
Nyandarua Government has been promoting beekeeping in dry parts of Ndaragua, Ol Joro Orok and Kipipiri, donating hundreds of beehives to the farmers, while more farmers embrace the venture due to guaranteed market, less labor, and minimal cost of production.
Mr John Ndaire, a bee farmer and farmer trainer from Kinangop says very few out of 450 beehives inspected from mid last month had honey.
“We have inspected 450 apiaries since honey harvesting season started. But very few apiaries have honey. About 10 per cent have honey. The season was not good,” says Mr Ndaire.
He is encouraging farmers to do monthly inspection of apiaries, ensure a strong population and keep predators away.
“Farmers should increase beehive space, plant bee-friendly flowering plants, engage in massive environment conservation and timely treatment of pests, parasites, and diseases. Monthly inspection of apiaries is very important and ensures a safe environment. Monthly inspections will help farmers understand how bees are coping with climatic factors,” he advised.
By John Ndirangu