Lockdown turned me from an MC to a beekeeper

Beekeeper Jason Runo inspects beehives

People usually try to improve their business ideas after discussing them with friends or family, or when they are alone, sometimes picking up someone else’s idea. But beekeeper Jason Runo did not come up with this idea.

In the early days of the pandemic, when most people were confined, the only dreams the subconscious mind could create were the pandemic.

But Runo, whose source of income from the entertainment business has dried up, had a dream of his own.

“In my dream, a bee spoke to me and told me that everything would be fine and that he would take care of me, so I thought the dream meant that I was selling honey. I did that for a while before I decided to find out where honey comes from,” he says

Runo adds that learning more about bees has fascinated her.

“One of the most important things any business person should have is product knowledge. My passion is more about bees and I believe that if you take care of the insects, they will really return the favor,” he says.

“Bees are responsible for 33 percent of the food we eat, and if we got rid of all our bees, humanity would have less than four years to live.”

Runo says that if a farmer becomes a beekeeper, he is automatically a conservationist because a beekeeper will always plant trees, make sure there are flowers around, and reduce or stop using pesticides.

“If you have crops or flowers with pesticides, that also means you’re making contaminated honey. Bees go to the flowers to collect nectar and return to the comb. In the language of the common man, honey makes the bee vomit,” he says

Runo built an apiary in Murang’a County. He has 30 beehives.

“Each hive can produce 10 kilos of honey per harvest. “You can harvest four times a year, but I’ve met farmers who harvest monthly because they deliberately bring in a lot to feed the bees.”

Her beehives come in a variety of attractive colors, blue, green, yellow and one made of concrete but painted in African art.

Isaac Tuo, wearing a beesuit, demonstrates how to harvest honey. [Lydiah Nyawira, Standard]

Is honey poisonous?

On August 26, 2022, two children died while 19 people were hospitalized after consuming what was believed to be poisoned honey in Tharaka Nithi County. Is honey poisonous?

Runo says that when you taste honey, you taste your surroundings, and if you have bees on a sunflower farm, the honey will taste the sunflowers. If bees were foraging in acacia trees, then you see acacia honey there, not because it is acacia-flavored.

“When it comes to honey, you literally eat your surroundings, so what could have happened in Meru, two scenarios could have played out, either the flowers the bees were making honey from had too many pesticides, or the plant itself was a poisonous plant,” he says.

Places in Asia like Nepal have hallucinogenic honey, Runo adds. You take a spoonful and begin to hallucinate. This is because there is a special flower that has a hallucinogenic component and is found twice a year.

What can you get from bees besides honey?

According to Runo, honey is the cheapest of all bee products because it is widely known. Other products include:

  • Propolis – Strengthens the immune system
  • Bee Venom – For anti-venom.
  • Royal jelly – collected from the cells of the queen bee in beehives, increases collagen production (Collagen gives structure, support or strength to skin, muscles, bones and connective tissues), relieves premenstrual and postmenopausal symptoms.
  • wax

Runo says that bees can be kept for pollination. Farmers in the US, especially fruit farmers, hire beekeepers to bring bees to their farms for pollination.

Low production of honey

According to the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), Kenya produces about 11,000 metric tons of honey and 1-3 tons of beeswax annually.

KALRO attributes the low production to lack of appropriate technologies, poor beekeeping practices and low adoption of improved technologies, weak policy regulations and marketing skills.

Runo says that production in the country is decreasing. “Last time I checked, we were only producing 15 percent of what we were consuming. We import a lot of honey. In the cold season, bees do not leave the hive and people get the flu. The demand is increasing, but the supply is low.”

According to the Apiculture Platform of Kenya (APK), about a third of all our food requires pollination by bees or other pollinators.

APK promotes hobby beekeeping as an important factor in rebuilding populations and promoting species health and diversity following declines in native bee populations caused by environmental stress and various pests.

How to transfer bees to a new colony?

Runo says they built the hives to be attractive to bees. When female worker bees go out foraging, they always look for a gap. When they find the perfect spot, they come back to send a message and move the entire colony.

Male bees mate and then die. Female bees do all the work, search for food, defend the colony, make honey. They also sting and then die.

“The last thing a bee wants to do is sting you, it’s just how you treat them. That’s why we’re big on boards,” he says.

Benefits of bee stings

A bee sting is very healthy if one is not allergic.

  • Bee venom has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and can benefit the health of your skin and immune system.
  • Treatment of inflammation.
  • It is given as an injection for rheumatoid arthritis, nerve pain (neuralgia) and multiple sclerosis.

“Bee sting treatment is one thing in the West. There is even a clinic in Malindi that treats bee stings. Experts are also investigating using bee stings as a facelift or botox,” says Runo.

Types of bees

Queen – A colony has one queen; its main function is reproduction. Its life is 2-3 years.

“The queen lays about 1,500 to 2,000 eggs every day, and in the event that the queen bee dies and the hive does not produce enough eggs, one of the worker bees will be given royal jelly. It’s also another business in beekeeping where farmers just raise queen bees,” says Runo.

Queen bees usually have longer bodies than other bees.

Worker – The smallest, but large in number, sexually immature and do not lay eggs. They protect the queen, clean and polish the cells, feed the brood, remove debris, control incoming nectar, build beeswax combs, guard the entrance, ventilate and ventilate the hive during the first few weeks of adulthood.

Drone – They don’t have stingers, pollen baskets or wax glands. Their main function is to fertilize the queen bee, they become sexually mature about a week after hatching and die soon after mating.

Types of beehives

Kenya Top Bar Bucket (KTBH)

It is made in Kenya and has top bars where the bees build their comb.

[Lydiah Nyawira, Standard]

According to Apiservices.biz, a beehive can be built using scrap or rough wood, woven from reeds or reeds, made from cement blocks or adobe, or even old, discarded oil drums can be used for the hive bodies.

Runo says that KTBH is divided into two parts. After seven bars, a wire known as a queen excluder is placed.

“Worker bees can get through the net, but not because of the size of the queen. This means that on the queen side you will have corns with eggs, which you call brood, and on the other side you will have just pure honey. So we never harvest from the puppy side. He loses about 15-20 kilos,” he says.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Kenya Top Bar Hive

It starts from 5000 manats

It is easy to manage and the bees are less stressed.

Because the boxes don’t move like a Langstroth hive, combs are easier to stack.

Bees move systematically, filling the bars with comb. There is no need to remove the queen as the bees will self-organize because it is single-story.

Building a bar top hive is not complicated – a box, bars and a top. A beekeeper can use kitchen equipment to collect honey.

Top bar hives allow bees to comb naturally.

Cons

Top bar hives are less productive

There is no room to add to the hive and therefore the hive cannot grow much.

Concrete beehive

Runo says that concrete hives are suitable in warm areas; it is cooler inside and more comfortable for the bees. It is also better than wooden hives that break down after a while. It gives 5 kilos of honey.

Langstroth beehive

Consists of 3 sections (consists of perfectbee.com)

Bottom section: Where the boxes rest includes a bottom plate with an entrance through which the bees can come and go.

Bins: Where the action takes place within the hive. Honey, honey, pollen, propolis and bees are placed in one or more boxes.

Top: The top of the hive consists of an inner cover that sits on top of the topmost box and a top cover to enclose the entire structure.

Langstroth Hive Advantages and Disadvantages

It varies between 5000 and 7000.

It favors honey sellers because there are many boxes, so there is more honey.

You don’t need to collect honey to make more room for the hive; just add another box on top.

With frames, you can give the bees their wax back. This means they don’t have to expend extra energy to regenerate their combs.

Cons

Because the farmer has to remove the top boxes, it is stressful for the bees when checking the bottom bars.

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