Through the Bench Maji Farmers Union-2SCALE partnership, the core idea is to champion the transition from a forest-based, male-dominated honey production system into an all-inclusive, women and youth-led backyard system.
When farmers adopt new production systems, they not only enhance their livelihoods but also contribute to growth in their communities. Ms. Mantegbosh Titata is one example of how the adoption of modern honey production systems has redefined beekeeping in Kitee village. She embraced modern beekeeping after the sad demise of her husband. Years later, she is a model bee farmer with 32 hives in her backyard.
Bees rest at night. If you visit my farm in the dark hours, you will not imagine that I share a backyard with thousands of bees. However, nesting at night means that the mornings are packed with a lot of activity. With this knowledge, I carry out all activities during the night but carefully, so as not to agitate them. Every evening, I inspect the hives for any insects that might harm the hives and assess the general health of the bees. I also evaluate the progress of the honey to be sure that I will harvest good quality,
In addition, she says that during the rainy season, she cares for the bees by bringing water and forage close to the hives to allow easy access to food. Bees tend not to leave the hives during rainy days.
Becoming a model farmer
As the partnership between Bench Maji and 2SCALE aims to promote the adoption of modern beekeeping techniques, it also strives to ensure that women and youth are equally engaged in beekeeping. For 45-year-old Mantegbosh, she embraced backyard beekeeping thanks to the support of Bench Maji Union.
My husband was a bee farmer. However, after his demise, I did not continue since I lacked the knowledge and also, this is something led by men. However, in 2020, I learned of modern practices such as the use of Kenyan top hives on backyards from Bench Maji Union. The fact that there are modern hives and that I can place them in my backyard was enough motivation for me to venture into beekeeping. Currently, I have 32 hives and 13 of them have bee colonies.
In a year, she harvests about two or three times depending on available forage for bees. From each hive, she harvests 40 kilograms of quality honey which she sells for about 180 ETB ($3.72) per Kilo. The success of her production method has attracted people from different regions in Ethiopia to visit her farm to learn more about backyard beekeeping, as she elaborates;
The quality and taste of the honey I produce is sought-after in towns such as Jimma and Addis Ababa. During the last Farmers Festival a few months ago, about 100 farmers visited my farm to learn more on backyard beekeeping. I was honored to host them and use my accomplishments to inspire them. What amazed me is that there were men in the group and they too were inspired to take hives from the forests to their backyards. I also get occasional visitors who want to learn more about the hives I use and how I take care of the bees for maximum production.