Beekeeping and Rural Development
Beekeeping is an income generating activity which provides a range of benefits economically, environmentally, and socially to individuals and communities (Bradbear, 2009; Schouten & Lloyd, 2019).
Honey bees produce several valuable products that may be used as a source of income for beekeepers. Honey is in high demand internationally, used around the world for its taste, nutritional benefits, and medicinal properties (Ahmad, Joshi, & Gurung, 2007).
Further, beeswax can be sold raw, processed, or transformed into value-added products such as cosmetics and candles (Aguiree & Pasteur, 1998; Bradbear, 2009; Hilmi, Bradbear, & Mejia, 2011).
Additional profitable products include royal jelly, propolis, pollen, queen bees, and nucleus colonies (Bradbear, 2009; Krell, 1996).
Evidently, there are great economic incentives for those involved in beekeeping.
Beekeeping has been recognized as a less labor intensive and a less time-consuming means of agricultural income generation for both men and women (Griffiths, 2004).
Hives require little space to be productive, allowing those who do not own land to undertake beekeeping (Bradbear, 2009).
Beekeeping can also be undertaken alongside other agricultural activities without competing for essential resources, while simultaneously increasing crop yields (Ahmad et al., 2007; Bradbear, 2009; Sharma & Abrol, 2014).
In this sense, beekeeping can improve the productivity and profitability of current farming activities, while supplementing and diversifying income streams.
A diverse stream of income assists with income smoothing and managing the seasonality of agricultural production while also mitigating against risks and sudden shocks (for example, disease, extreme weather events, regional economic
conditions; Department for International Development, 2000; Ellis, 1999 ).
Hence, there is great potential for beekeeping to enhance the resilience of rural livelihoods.
In addition to the economic and social
benefits of beekeeping, the contribution of bees to the surrounding ecosystem is important.
Pollination by honey bees provide ecosystem services that contribute to the maintenance of biodiversity, increased crop production, and improved food security (Hilmi et al., 2011; Klein et al., 2007; Olschewski, Tscharntke, Benítez, Schwarze, & Klein, 2006).
This is especially important in regions experiencing a decline in the population of native pollinators (Kluser & Peduzzi, 2007).
Given that honey production is dependent on the surrounding floral resources available to beekeepers, beekeeping communities may be incentivized to conserve forest areas that afford them high yields and incomes (Bradbear, 2009; Schouten, Lloyd, & Lloyd, 2019).
Therefore, beekeeping could be used to assist in protection of forest reserves and biodiversity surrounding apiaries. Despite the great potential for beekeeping to provide income and employment opportunities for rural livelihoods, many development programs encouraging beekeeping have struggled to improve the livelihoods of the intended beneficiaries, some inadvertently disempowering those it sought to empower (Otis & Bradbear, 2003; Schouten & Lloyd, 2019).
Amulen et al. (2017) found a lack of both training and provision of protective equipment limited the ability for beekeeping programs to improve the wellbeing of the participants.
A study by Schouten and Lloyd (2019) on factors influencing the success of development programs found access to floral resources and continuous extension and training support to be extremely important.
Beekeeping requires a foundational set of knowledge and skills of bee complexities and beekeeping practices in order to create successful bee-based businesses.
Beekeepers who are limited in technical skills and support often struggle to manage and maintain their apiary, and pests and diseases (Jacques et al., 2017). As a result, undertrained beekeepers pose biosecurity threats to existing beekeepers.
Further, without adequate training and mentoring, beekeepers are prone to limited economic efficiency (Kuboja, Isinika, & Kilima, 2017), characterized by low honey yields and high rates of colony losses. Ultimately, inadequate support mechanisms for the
development of technical beekeeping skills can result in a loss of potential income and beekeeper self-esteem, as well as, reduced aid effectiveness.
Read full article here: