Bees put food on the table and money into the pockets of many people. They pollinate crops and provide a lifeline for food security and the economies of countries.
This is behind the success of most Ugandans, but they are not taking care of the bees that give them wealth.
While many farmers cut down the bees’ habitat or use pesticides to ease the work of agriculture, little do they know that they are killing the enabler of pollination.
“The bee population is declining because of human activities through the cutting down of trees that act as their home and source of raw materials for making honey,” Dr. Deborah Amulen, a lecturer at Makerere University, said.
She says that bees are facing extinction, posing a great threat to the pollination of flowering crops.
Amulen is also working with applied biological sciences on honeybee health, genomics, pesticides, and the economics of honey production in Africa.
She was speaking at a conference organized by the Uganda National Apiculture Development Organisation (TUNADO) at Ntinda in Kampala.
The meeting attracted over 100 beekeepers and entomologists from Makerere University.
TUNADO and stratified agroecological zone sampled the beekeepers randomly and the non-beekeepers were selected from a list of farmers provided by each district of the agricultural office.
The threat of extinction is not only happening in Uganda but in other parts of the world as well.
Bees are also affected by many other factors in the environment, including climate change and biological enemies.
According to researchers, the bee population is declining to the extent that only 60% of beehives are colonized and 40% remain empty.
A survey conducted in eastern and western Uganda by Moses Chemurot, a researcher from Makerere University in the College of Natural Science, shows that honeybee colony performance varies with altitude, season, dominant vegetation type, and height of beehive placement and apiary management.
Amulen attributed all these challenges to the bee population to extensive farming that has called for the use of agrochemicals which reduces the viability of sperm, leading to fewer offspring Dr. Julianne Otim, a researcher from Makerere University’s School of Information, Communication, and Technologies (ICTs), revealed that bees were declining due to climate change.
Land practices, the more a place gets urbanized and some people importing diseases through the introduction of modern beehives and bee diseases, were among the causes Dr. Otim highlighted.
Otim warned that the loss of bees and other bugs was a cause for concern because insects provide food for numerous bird, fish, and mammal species.
Pollinators like bees and hoverflies also perform a crucial role in fruit, vegetable, and nut production.
“Honey is the main product harvested, followed by beeswax and propolis.” Beekeeping accounts for about 7% of annual household incomes.
This may indicate that if beekeeper households did not have beekeeping to supplement their income, they would be 7% financially worse off than they are currently,” the Makerere University researcher said.