Notes to broadcasters
Beekeeping consists of raising bees to obtain at least one of a number of products: honey, propolis, pollen, royal jelly, or wax. These products are just as useful to people as they are to nature. For example, honey and royal jelly are known for their ability to boost energy levels and their therapeutic value. Wax is used to make candles, ointments, and soap. Pollen is an excellent mental tonic that is reported to stimulate memory. It is also the basis for plant reproduction.
Although beekeeping was once practised on a casual basis in Burkina Faso, it is now a popular activity. Under the influence of farmer groups, it has become a source of income for beekeepers and a source of employment in rural areas. Beekeeping also plays an important role in preserving local ecosystems.
The village of Yabasso, forty kilometres from Bobo-Dioulasso in the Hauts Bassins region of western Burkina Faso, is known for the quality of its honey. In 2018, this village benefited from support from the Fonds d’Intervention pour l’Environnement for training in modern beekeeping. Since then, thirty beekeepers have joined forces to form a co-operative called Scoops-AY, and are enjoying the maximum benefits.
This radio script introduces the practice of beekeeping and its benefits for humankind and nature. It is based on interviews with four guests: Yan Floran Millogo, treasurer of the Société coopérative simplifiée des apiculteurs de Yabasso or Scoops-AY; Anselme Millogo, president of the co-operative; Mè Vincent Millogo, member of the co-operative; and Nazé Abdoulaye Konaté, Inspector of Water and Forests at the Regional Directorate for the Environment in the Hauts-Bassins region.
To produce this script on your radio station, you can use voice actors or adapt it to your local situation. If you use voice actors, please be sure to inform your audience at the start of the program that the voices are those of actors, and not those of the original interviewees. It should also be made clear that the program has been adapted for your local audience, but is based on real interviews.
If you want to create programs about beekeeping, talk to members of beekeeping groups and an expert on the subject.
You could ask them the following questions:
- What are the best beekeeping practices?
- What economic and environmental benefits does beekeeping offer?
- What are the challenges associated with beekeeping and how can they be addressed?
- Length of program, including intro and extro: 25 to 30 minutes.
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Hello, dear listeners. Welcome to your program. My name is Solange Bicaba.
Today, we’re going to talk about the practice of beekeeping and its benefits for people and the environment in Yabasso, a village in the Hauts-Bassins region of western Burkina Faso. In this village, about thirty people in a co-operative have been practicing modern beekeeping since 2018 after receiving training from the Fonds d’Intervention pour l’Environnement, or FIE.
This has led to an improvement in their living conditions. To learn more about the benefits offered by beekeeping, we interviewed Yan Floran Millogo, treasurer of the Société coopérative simplifiée des apiculteurs de Yabasso or Scoops-AY; Anselme Millogo, president of the co-operative; as well as Mè Vincent Millogo and Sogodala Pélagie, members of the same co-operative. We also spoke with Nazé Abdoulaye Konaté, Inspector of Water and Forests at the Regional Environment Directorate of Hauts-Bassins. He will talk about good beekeeping practices that benefit people and biodiversity.
Now let’s turn to our guests.
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You have been beekeeping for six years now, Mr. Millogo. What has it brought you?
YAN FLORIAN MILLOGO:
Beekeeping is not a very demanding activity. All you need to do is set up the hive and keep an eye on it. I have 15 hives and harvest three times a year. The first harvest is from the end of February to the beginning of March. The second is from the end of April to mid-May. And the third, often in November, is called the cleaning harvest because it cleans the hive. The first two harvests bring in between 200 and 300 thousand Cfaf ($320-390 US). The income from the third harvest is very small compared to the first two because the quality of the honey is not as good. The income from beekeeping has allowed me to complete my house with 18 metal sheets. With this money, I also buy inputs for my agricultural production.
Thank you, Mr. Franck Xavier Millogo. Mrs. Pélagie Millogo has five beehives of her own. Welcome, and tell us what this activity means to you.
Since I’m a beekeeper and a member of the Scoops-AY co-operative, I receive my share of the co-operative’s revenue, which amounts to 50 or 60 thousand Cfaf ($80-100 US) for each harvest. As for processed honey products, such as wax and drinks, I can receive 30,000 Cfaf ($50 US) a week, but I may get more or less because the market is not stable. Thanks to beekeeping, we’re able to feed, clothe, and educate our children. We women are able to celebrate social events such as christenings and weddings without any problems.
The men help us to set up the hives, visit the bees, and harvest the honey. We bring water to the bees, extract the wax, filter the honey, and process it into drinks and juices.
Another advantage of beekeeping is that it provides employment for young people and women. To talk about this, we welcome Mr. Vincent Millogo, who is not only a beekeeper but also a nursery keeper.
Yes, as part of our efforts to promote beekeeping, the FIE project recommended that we plant nursery seedlings for reforestation. This year, 2023, we planted 700 cashew trees. In the past, after the agricultural harvest, farmers had nothing to do for at least six months. But now we’re busy selling the seedlings. I have 18 beehives that bring in almost 300,000 CFA francs (US $500) a year. This allows me to take care of my family in case of illness. I’ve been able to send my son to school, and this year he passed his baccalaureate. This is a benefit to the whole extended family because in Africa, a child is not just the offspring of his parents, but belongs to the whole family.
In the village of Yabasso, a number of challenges are hindering the development of beekeeping. Anselme Millogo, as president of the co-operative, what are these difficulties?
First of all, the village of Yabasso produces at least 1,600 litres of honey every year. Our co-operative has a store, but it’s not big and it’s in a bad location. The village chief gave us a piece of land, but we don’t have the money to build on it. We don’t have the right equipment either. The lack of equipment means, for example, that bees sting the women a lot during the filtering process. Another problem is handling the honey. People buy the honey and take too long to pay the beekeepers. Some beekeepers have financial difficulties, but they are forced to wait.
Are there other difficulties, Mrs. Pélagie Millogo?
Women have difficulty accessing water for the bees. When we go to the well, we may have to spend a long time there to get a small amount of water, and it’s often cloudy so has to be filtered before being used. If we could get boreholes, it would be a great relief.
Thank you for your clarification. Inspecteur Konaté, the Fonds d’Intervention pour l’Environnement
has supported Scoops-AY with capacity building and equipment for modern beekeeping. As someone who specializes in beekeeping training, what motivated this training?
Fonds d’Intervention pour l’Environnement
or FIE was created in 1994 in the first environmental law in Burkina Faso. Its mandate is to reduce the current trend of environmental degradation, to combat the harmful effects of climate change, and to promote the country’s economic development by creating wealth and income in the environmental and natural resources sectors. And, last but not least, to reduce poverty. Any action that is fully in line with these objectives can benefit from FIE’s technical and financial support. Since beekeeping contributes enormously to protecting the environment and creating income and jobs, it is natural that this co-operative should be a beneficiary.
And what benefits does beekeeping offer?
The essential element of beekeeping is the bee, a living being that is part of the biodiversity that needs to be preserved. Its main ecosystem role is pollination, which is essential for the reproduction of the vast majority of flowering plants on the planet. Pollination involves the transfer of pollen from the male reproductive organ of the plant, the stamen, to the female organ of the flower, the pistil. Pollination accounts for about 80% of plant reproduction, and about 65-70% for cereal crops. The bee is therefore a great asset to agriculture and growing trees and shrubs. This relationship between the environment and man is very close, because without trees, there is no life. And without bees, vegetation would decrease by 70% every year.
In the past, beekeeping was practiced by people with limited financial resources. Today, however, the activity attracts all social classes. It is practiced by men, women, young people, and people with disabilities. Whether in the field, in honey processing, or in marketing, everyone earns a living. It’s an activity that not only provides jobs, but also generates income. For example, women can use honey by-products to make juices, alcoholic beverages, or ointments. Artisans use wax to create molds when they cast bronze. Royal jelly is used to make pharmaceutical products.
Thank you, inspector. Now let’s go back to Yan Florian Millogo, a member of the Scoops-AY co-operative whose association benefited from training in modern beekeeping in 2018. What did you learn?
YAN FLORIAN MILLOGO:
We learned about bees, which are in fact the raw material for our business. They are very important animals for both humans and nature. We have to pay special attention to bees and protect them. Before that, we learned that as beekeepers we need to have certain qualities, such as a calm and patient temperament, because bees are very sensitive.
When we go to visit them, we have to make sure that we’re not stressed. This can stress the bees too. It’s also clear that beekeepers need to be good observers to recognize any unusual behavior from their bees. As for the bee itself, the instructors taught us about its habits, organization, and reproduction. We learned how to set up a hive in recommended locations, the minimum equipment needed for the job, and how to protect ourselves from bee stings.
Mr. Inspector, why do we need to know about bees?
One of the definitions of beekeeping refers to keeping bees for maximum profit. If you want to keep bees, you have to know them. If you don’t know them, it goes without saying that you can manipulate them in ways that you think are insignificant, but that can be fatal. For example, in a bee colony, there are three types of bees: a single queen, a few males called drones, numbering from 1,500 to 2,000, and the workers. If you don’t recognize the queen during the harvest, you might kill her. As a result, the hive could desert you. So, of course you have to know the queen before you can carry out the activity.
It’s true that knowing bees is essential to beekeeping. But it’s not enough. There are other practices involved, aren’t there, Mr. Millogo?
YAN FLORIAN MILLOGO:
In addition to learning about bees, we also learned how to set up the hive properly. The hive should be located away from noisy public places, houses, and roads, and preferably under a shady tree such as the mango, shea, or cashew. These are fruit trees that bees love because their flowers produce an abundance of nectar and pollen. In addition, the bees like the strong scents and vivid colours of the flowers of these trees, which are abundant in the village of Yabasso.
After this stage, the next is monitoring or control. This involves providing the bees with water and monitoring the development of the colony. In the water container, we place either a floating object or pebbles to prevent the bees from drowning while trying to drink. Once the honey has formed, we move on to harvesting. Again there are a few recommendations. Always wear overalls, plus boots and gloves. Two to three people are recommended for this task. One person harvests, the second holds the seal, and the third uses the smoker, which calms the bees. Otherwise, with only two people, who’s going to hold the bucket to collect the honey and who’s going to smoke the bees? When not enough people are involved in harvesting, many bees die and the work becomes very difficult.
Can you confirm these good practices, Inspector?
Yes, these beekeepers have been well-trained. In addition to what Mr. Millogo said, the hive must also be constantly visited to detect any abnormalities, for example, bee diseases, to prevent them from decimating the bees. Here in Burkina Faso, bees are confronted with two main challenges: parasites known as the “little collector” (Editor’s note: the scientific name is Aethina tumida, and it’s also called the small hive beetle)
and the wax moth. The little collector does not decimate the colony per se, but the wax moth does. Studies are underway to find remedies for these diseases. For the time being, beekeepers are coping. Besides, bees are creatures that need attention. Visits stimulate them.
As for placing the hive in the shade, when you put it in direct sunlight, knowing that Burkina Faso often experiences high temperatures, the honeycomb will melt, the honey will run off, and this leads to deterioration of the eggs and larvae. This means you won’t have any regeneration—you won’t have new bees. The bees will eventually desert you. The recommended temperature inside the beehive is 33 to 36°C. If it’s too hot, you won’t have enough honey because the bees will disperse their energy cooling the hive instead of concentrating on producing honey.
The hive should also be set up away from public places such as churches, schools, etc. Bees don’t like noise. If you disturb them, they’ll attack you. Hives used to be placed in a tree. But now, they are under the tree on a stand between 0.8 and 1.5 metres above the ground. In Burkina Faso, strong winds and rain generally blow from east to west. Therefore, hives should be positioned so that the entrance hole faces north or south, not east or west. You will also need to install devices that protect against certain predators. Some use engine oil, others use water to prevent ants from passing from the base of the stand into the hive. The hives that are most popular in Yabasso are Kenyan hives. They are made from planks by our carpenters. They have a smell that changes when there’s moisture. Bees are very clean and healthy animals. They don’t like bad smells. That is why you won’t see a bee landing on a rotten area, and why you shouldn’t put beehives in areas prone to flooding.
The final stage of production is harvesting.
That’s right! In Burkina Faso, there are two main honey production periods, known as honeyflow periods. From February to June, it’s the major honeyflow period, when many trees have flowers. Towards the end of the rainy or growing seasons, we still have what we call the small honeyflow period. This lasts from mid-August to December, when cereal growing has just been completed and the nectar that the bees have been able to extract from flowers can be used to make honey. Cleaning: this is the last harvest, when some cells remain in the hive, perhaps containing pollen or bee brood. Over time, some cells harden and turn black. They then need to be cleaned so that the bees can renew them. Cleaning, as the name suggests, actually prepares the great March honey. It clears the hive of any debris. They harvest but you can find honey or you can find nothing. The honey is generally more liquid and is not taken into account by the co-operative. The beekeeper does what he wants with it. All these practices are specific to the Kenyan or locally-made hives used at Yabasso.
If these practices are applied correctly, the quality and quantity of the honey are guaranteed, especially since the honey is not harvested over an active fire, but with the help of a smoker. And I have no doubt about this when it comes to Yabasso honey. I was able to taste it during a meeting. The taste and appearance of this honey is remarkable. And when it’s like that, you really enjoy all the benefits of your business.
Besides these advantages, Mr. Konaté, what are the difficulties in beekeeping?
Beekeeping in Burkina Faso is facing difficulties that can be grouped into three categories: equipment, marketing, and organization.
Modern beekeeping equipment is very expensive. The use of iron in beekeeping is strongly discouraged, although iron is the most widely available metal in our country. Stainless steel is the most recommended material, although tools made of this material are very expensive. For example, manual extractors cost about 200,000 CFA francs ($330 US), while stainless steel presses cost between 100 and 150,000 CFA francs ($165-$250 US). It’s not easy for beekeepers to afford them.
As far as sales are concerned, there is no standard price for honey in Burkina Faso. Each beekeeper sets the price of their honey according to the equipment they use. As a result, prices vary.
Finally, although associations of beekeepers have been set up, they do not function well. As for the bees themselves, the real problem is agricultural practices, including overharvesting of plants, which decreases sources of nectar and pollen, and the uncontrolled use of pesticides. Honey comes from flowers. Without trees, there are no flowers and therefore no honey. Pesticides and bush fires decimate the bees.
What do you recommend to minimize these obstacles?
We need to get existing organizations up and running, and encourage meetings to improve skills and share experiences. The government should include beekeeping equipment in its list of equipment with fixed prices or subsidize beekeeping equipment. This will solve the problem of uneven prices and, in turn, boost honey processing in Burkina Faso. For it is in processing that beekeepers can get the maximum profit.
Thank you, Inspector Konaté. We’ve come to the end of this program. It shows that beekeeping is booming in the village of Yabasso in Burkina Faso. Thanks to the Fonds d’Intervention pour l’Environnement
, the 30-member Scoops-AY cooperative has 300 Kenyan hives. They produce at least 1,600 litres of honey per year. The sale of this honey and the processing of its by-products enable the beekeepers to make a living. They also have enough to keep them busy during the dry season. Aware of the benefits of beekeeping to their livelihoods and biodiversity, the beekeepers are doing their best to put the training they have received into practice.
I hope the information provided in this program will be of great use to you. Thank you for your attention. And see you soon for a new program.
Contributed by: Solange Bicaba, reporter for Radiodiffusion Télévision du Burkina Faso Hauts Bassins
Reviewed by: Nazé Abdoulaye Konaté, Water and Forest Inspector at the Bobo Dioulasso Provincial Department of the Environment, Water and Sanitation.
Yan Florian Millogo, Treasurer of the Société coopérative simplifiée des apiculteurs de Yabasso, Scoops-AY. Interview conducted on August 31, 2023.
Anselme Millogo, President of the co-operative. Interview conducted on August 31, 2023.
Mè Vincent Millogo, member of the co-operative. Interview conducted on August 31, 2023.
Sogodala Pélagie, member of the co-operative. Interview conducted on August 31, 2023.
Nazé Abdoulaye Konaté, Water and Forest Inspector at the Bobo Dioulasso Provincial Department of the Environment, Water and Sanitation. Interview conducted on September 12, 2023.