What should you know first before starting a beekeeping project in Kenya?
To successfully start beekeeping in Kenya, the first step is to learn as much as you can about the bees themselves. Understanding bee biology is crucial for all beginners. Our main advice is for people to do a lot of research.
The best way to learn beekeeping is usually in person with another more experienced, respected beekeeper or organization. You’ll learn the basics, including proper terminology, equipment uses, and how to manage bees from season to season.
In Kenya, The National Beekeeping Institute (NBI) is a government institution for training on apiculture, production of bee equipment and control of product quality. National Bee Keeping Station is off Lenana Road. Providing a several days beekeeping training workshop, with certification at the end
So another option is to look online. YouTube channels now have detailed online courses. See our beekeeping projects on our YouTube channel HERE
1.Find when & where to start beekeeping in Kenya:
An apiary or bee farm is a place where beehives are kept. In Kenya there are plenty of nectar producing flowers/trees for bees to enjoy. This allows for, 100 colonies crowded in a small area to be able to easily obtain their food supply without any trouble. The apiary should also be close to water and nectar sources
For the best placement, face the opening of each hive towards direction of rising sun. This way, bees get to soak in the morning sun (which gets them up and moving) and then cool down with a bit of shade later in the afternoon.
Bees can travel about 3 km to visit a plant. So don’t worry too much about them being a bit far from your trees. However, do avoid of any high-activity hotspots, ideally separated from animal movements. Children as well should be considered. And, of course, therefore distance from the homestead, make sure you put the hives in an easily accessible spot for your beekeeping convenience. Avoid fields frequently sprayed with chemical pesticides to reduce bee poisoning and honey contamination; thus, if a must, use bee friendly pesticides.
Place all the hives at a height that you will find comfortable to work. Not too high as this will be a hinderance in future If placed on stands use used oil to drive away crawling ants. If resources allow, fence your apiary to protect it from vandals and predators like honey badgers
Honeybees are entirely behavior-dependent on the climate in which they live. Timing for beginning a hive will vary depending on your local climate and geography.
Since there could be several swarming seasons each year (depending on the climate and vegetation where you are located) African bees may occupy hives at different times of the year. The area you do beekeeping in will be different from others.
This means that your hives should be baited just before the high fly swarming season. There are several swarming seasons each year. Characteristics of a swarming season is that there will be an abundance of flowers blooming at once. During this time, crowding bees realize that they must make room for honey and pollen stores to be brought in. A new queen is therefore produced by the hive, and this triggers a swarming impulse in the hive.
The coming of the swarm is not automatic, but most beehives installed and baited will be colonized. The time required varies widely. Hives placed very close to residential areas may take a long time to attract bees; hives sited near large quantities of flowering plants will generally be colonized rapidly.
Beekeeping Project equipment set up
The good thing about what’s required, is that once purchased, the following years require minimal purchases in terms of beekeeping equipment. For beekeeping equipment, you can consider starting small. Some equipment’s are not required immediately and can wait, this includes honey processing & storage tools.
for the rest of this we will assume you went ahead with purchase of a langstroth hive. Beehive prices in Kenya range between different companies. This is influenced by finishing, type of wood & depth of super chamber.
Check our langstroth beehive price here.
The next step in starting beekeeping project is to equip yourself with some beekeeping essentials so you’re not entering the beehive empty-handed. Main ones would be the smoker, which is is next in importance to the beehive itself.
For protection against the African bee’s sting, protective clothing would be required. A bee suit with gloves as well as gumboots. There is an array of key tools that will make your hive checks safer, easier, and more effective such as bee brush, hive tool, hive tools, bee smokers etc.
From sting protection to smokers, we have everything you need to launch and maintain your hive. SHOP here
Apiary Beekeeping Tasks
What is involved in taking care of your bees?
A farmer who plants his crop on fertile land with excellent climatic conditions is bound to fail if he leaves everything to chance, neglecting other important managerial practices such as pest control, bush clearing, pruning, thinning, etc.
Beekeeping success can depend on the beekeeper’s management of colony organization. This includes practices which are vital to the survival and well-being of every bee colony.
Beehive Inspections allow the beekeeper to know whether combs have been constructed correctly, honey is being prepared and capped regularly, proper hive management is best in preventing the swarming of your colony, whether the hive has been attacked by pests, etc.
Once all this is correctly done Honey harvesting is next. When the first honey crop can be harvested depends on when the hive was colonized by bees, ideally this is generally within 2-3 months
The best way the beekeeper has of knowing that the hive has matured honey is to observe his colony. Typical behavior from bees with honey is that foraging bees seem less. Few bees are seen at the entrance during the day; the bees seem to become lazy. The hive smells of honey when it is approached. The guards at the entrance become more aggressive than ever. To see costs associated with beekeeping check here