Burundi beekeeping

Beekeeping improves lives in Mbuye


Ernest Nshimirumuremyi, a-34 year old cultivator, lives at Mubuga hill in Mbuye commune, Muramvya province, centre west of Burundi. He has a wife and three children. Apart from cultivating his small piece of land, Ernest does carpentry so as to be able to put food on the table for his family.


Despite his efforts in farming, he only relies on a small land.


In Mbuye commune, one of the 5 communes of Muramvya province, there are rampant issues linked to land ownership. Such issues are barriers to food security, as one household can hardly exploit approximately 0.5 ha or less; thus a root cause of poor child wellbeing.


In a bid to compensate his harvests and what he was earning from carpentry, Ernest decided to practice beekeeping as his efforts were not bringing much mainly in the dry season.


For Ernest, beekeeping is a legacy he was initiated to by his father back when he was just 6 years old. When he was 15, he had his own beehives. As he recalled how his father was able to buy food and meat when he had sold honey in the neighborhood, he got motivated. To Ernest, beekeeping was the most rewarding job. As he recall with a smile, his dad was among the rare people at his hill who was able to buy meat, sometimes a whole goat as the family celebrated Christmas.


Even tough, beekeeping was bringing some income, it was until last year that beekeeping got a new turn. World Vision introduced improved beekeeping with grouped practitioners into associations.


Improved beehives, appropriate equipment as well as trainings were given to beekeepers gathered into 2 associations. 


“Intwarirakumaguru” is one of the two associations which benefited support from World Vision. 50 beehives and other materials like wax sheet, smokers, bee suits, brush etc. were given to them.


According to Ernest, this has revolutionized beekeeping. Opening beehives and follow up of how bees are doing became easier. The bee suits also provide maximum protection for a closer observation and the extractor can maximize honey harvesting without damaging the wax sheet.


The revolution is deeper than first thought.


Indeed, in this new way of doing, girls and women are associated. This was inconceivable in traditional beekeeping because an old belief is that women do not approach beehives as they were considered impure during menstruation. Approaching, according to the belief could make bees die or make bees flying away.


Today, associating women is breaking the taboo.


Benita an-8-year old girl and Ernest’s daughter disturbs her dad as she wants to follow him whenever she goes to his beehives.


 “If I had equipment of her size, I would be taking her so as she gets familiar with bees at an early age”, says Ernest with a smile.


With 50 beehives already installed, they expect a harvest of 1,500 kg while they were collecting only 80 kg from the traditional beehives. One kg costing around 7 to 8,000 Fbu in the community. In July when they plan to extract honey, they expect to earn 12,000,000 Fbu (4 300 $).


In a country where more than 70% of the population live with less than 1$ per day this means a lot. For Roger Nibaruta, president of Intwarirakumaguru association, the future is bright, with such an income, planning and implementing projects becomes easier.


“We have already started planting fruits like papayas, passion fruits to complement beekeeping”, Roger says.