Farmer's Weekly (South Africa)
Namibian beekeepers plan big industry expansion
Beekeeping in Namibia needs to be put on a sound footing to ensure sustainable, long-term honey production. It is for this reason that Women for Bees Namibia (WFBN) has embarked on a countrywide training and development campaign, according to Gretchen Burmeister, spokesperson for the organisation.
She told Farmer’s Weekly that approximately 150 women beekeepers were practising in Namibia, of whom 40 were actively involved in the WFBN programme. Their objective was to expand the industry as a means of alleviating poverty and empowering women.
“To achieve this, we need to support participants through proper training based on proven scientific data and research,” she said.
“While honeybees can be kept successfully throughout the country, extensive practical training in all aspects of the industry is crucial.” She added that very little, if any, research had been conducted on beekeeping in Namibia, and no recorded data on commercial beekeeping was available.
Burmeister said the WFBN had applied and been accepted to participate in international research and training programmes, including Unesco’s Women For Bees initiative.
According to the Unesco website, beekeeping could generate income in rural areas for disadvantaged populations who did not grow crops or owned farms. It was also a viable option for generating income and improving food security in areas where agricultural production was minimal.
The Unesco programme focused on the protection of honeybees and their welfare, as well as educating people on their importance.
Another goal was the empowerment of women through professional, expertise-driven support.
The programme also aimed to contribute to increasing honeybee populations, and to raising awareness of their importance as pollinators.
Burmeister added: “Our responsibilities don’t end with providing knowledge and sharing expertise pertaining to the keeping of bees and honey production. In our education programmes, we emphasise the fact that bees are very important pollinators in Namibia and play a crucial environmental role in the mitigation of, among other issues, desertification and the promotion of biodiversity.”
She said that in Namibia, the species Apis mellifera scutellata occurred in the southern and central areas, while A. m. adansonii was found in the northern parts. There was also an overlapping zone where hybrid species were recognised.
However, bee species could only be determined by DNA testing, which was currently not available in Namibia.