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Key words: Africa, beekeeping, colony, queen cells
This study evaluated and demonstrated honey bee colony dividing techniques under rural conditions in Bahir Dar Zuria, Dangila and Guangua Districts in Ethiopia. Ten farmers were selected to undertake division of honey bee colonies after receiving intensive training. According to the views of the target beekeepers, this method was technically feasible and would enable them to obtain additional honey bee colonies. The process could be scaled up and used in districts where there are promising bee forage resources.
Keeping bees in baskets may have started about 5,000 years ago in northern regions of Ethiopia along with the early settlements (Gezahegne, 2001). Most beekeeping in Ethiopia is carried out using local style hives and long established methods, with top-bar and frame hives also in use.
Ethiopia is endowed with good weather conditions, plant species and water sources. Such natural resources have created a conducive environment for the existence of millions of honey bee colonies and the annual production of thousands of tonnes of honey and beeswax (EARO, 2000). However, in some parts of the country acquiring honey bee colonies to start beekeeping and to extend existing apiaries is now becoming a major problem. Also the price of colonies is rising.
Beekeeping extension packages provide hives and beekeeping equipment to farmers on a credit basis. Training has been given on the manufacture of beekeeping equipment to improve the routine management practices of the local beekeeping system. However, the strategy did not focus on how to maintain colonies, and obtaining honey bee colonies is the main bottleneck. Therefore, to alleviate the problem, queen rearing techniques that can be easily adopted by farmers should be introduced.
The study was conducted in three selected potential beekeeping districts of the western Amhara region: Bahir Dar Zuria, Dangila and Guangua. This involved the rural associations kebeles: Kimbaba (Woibegn), Bacha, Ziguda, Menta Wuha and Sigade.