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Stakeholders share hive technology experiences
Biryomumaisho Dickson, Executive Director, TUNADO, PO Box 11804, Kampala, Uganda
Key words: frame hive, local-style hive, top-bar hive, Uganda
In February 2012 a meeting was held in Fortportal Town, Rwenzori, Uganda to provide opportunities for representatives from stakeholder organisations to hear farmers' experiences in using different styles of hive and to discuss ways forward. Later The Uganda National Apiculture Development Organisation (TUNADO) presented its draft strategic plan for discussion and input.
Mr Kazahura Felix of SNV Netherlands Development Organization (Rwenzori) reported that his organisation has been working with different honey sector actors to ensure an increase in honey productivity through establishing famer led extension systems with model apiaries working as demonstration sites. The challenge has been the low volume of production compared to estimates of the sector's potential (below). Could the style of hive being promoted affect the sector's ability to reach its potential?
Honey production - actual vs potential
Uganda apiculture sector profile 2010
Current annual honey production = 2,600 T
Potential annual honey production = 500,000 T
The price for honey in Uganda is higher than in the UK
Types of hives
Mr Tunanukye George of of Kamwenge Beekeepers Co-operative Society (KABECOS) said that developers have sidelined local-style (traditional) hives and are promoting frame hives and top-bar hives. According to books, using frame hives provides a good harvest with high quality honey. However in reality frame hives have several disadvantages: most hive makers make hives that are poor or sub-standard which make it impossible for colonisation and honey production. Frame hives need specialist expertise to manufacture compared with local-style hives, and the technology is too expensive for many farmers.
Beekeepers gave testimony that high absconding rates meant frame hives were very expensive for the amount of honey they produced, but that they are happy with the return on local-style and top-bar hives.
Hives Save Lives reported that of all the farmers they supplied with frame hives on credit, only 2% have paid back and that for those supplied with top-bar hives all of them have paid back.
Mr Magezi Eliezer of Bunyangabo Beekeepers Co-operative (BBC) said that promoting top-bar and local-style hives in his organisation gave good results and in the last seven years BBC had not run out of honey in accordance to demand. Another reason for promoting local-style hives is the harvest of propolis which attracts a good price (sometimes more than honey).
The 1 Million investment
Hive costs and production figures from farmers were used to analyse the profitability of UGX1 million if invested in any of the existing hive types, as shown in the table below.
Hive type Cost per hive
(UGX) Number of hives Colonised hives (0%*) Honey per colonised hive (kg) Honey produced (kg) Income
Frame 150,000 7 2 30 60.3 301,500
Top-bar 50,000 20 6 24 144.0 720,000
Local-style 5,000 200 60 10 600.0 3 million
[itals]UGX2,500 = US$1 €0.75 (March 2012)[end]
* High absconding and other factors mean relatively low colonisation rates are assumed.
Mr Ahimbisibwe Patrick from Hives Save Lives agreed that to make a frame hive costs UGX150,000 (US$60; €45), compared with a top-bar hive (UGX50,000; US$20; €15) or local-style hive (UGX5,000; US$2; €1.5). However in his experience, average production from all types of hive is about the same and lower than the above estimates at 10 kg. He concluded that promoters should focus on local-style hives since the benefits are equal and the costs far lower, and leave top-bar and frame hives to those who can afford them.
Recommendation the use of local-style hives should be encouraged with regular monitoring to increase productivity.
It was concluded that further scrutiny and research is necessary to provide good information on the direction of investment on hive technology for upscaling production.
TUNADO's philosophy is that "We believe in promoting apiculture as a business enterprise." The organisation is committed to the financial as well as the environmental sustainability of the apiculture sector. In contributions to its draft strategic plan, Mr Tunanukye George recommended that TUNADO:
• lobby for government payment for the National Residual Monitoring Plan in line with the EU market requirements.
Bees for Development
Bunyangabo Beekeepers Co-operative
Effective Skills Development Consultants
Hives Saves Lives
Kabarole Beekeepers Association
Kabarole District Local Government/National Agricultural Advisory Services
Kamwenge Beekeepers Co-operative Society
Private Sector representatives
SNV Netherlands Development Organization
The Uganda National Apiculture Development Organisation (TUNADO)