Ethiopia: Bee Colony Multiplication for Enhancing Commercial Beekeeping, Better Income for the Youth

Agnes Nyinawumuntu, a former housemaid is today a model coffee farmer in Rukara, Kayonza District.

Timely supply of productive and strong bee colonies is one of the major challenges commercial beekeepers in developing countries like Ethiopia face. The Young Entrepreneurs in Silk and Honey (YESH) project of International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) has recently conducted practical training to some youth beekeepers in bee colony multiplication at model apiaries in Amhara Regional State.

One of the beneficiaries of this training is a model youth beekeepers' enterprise named "Adamu, Getahun and Friends Honey production and processing Enterprise" in Hulet Eju Enesie district of Amhara regional state. The enterprise comprises of 10 energetic youth (four women and six men) and has been in the commercial beekeeping business for the last two years. Further, from hosting one of the practical training workshops on bee colony multiplication, this enterprise went ahead with multiplying selected bee colonies and produced 27 bee colonies. At current market value, these colonies are worth ETB13,500 (or about US$480).

They have now identified bee colony multiplication as an additional source of revenue. Over the last two years, the enterprise has generated a gross income of ETB 230,000 (equivalent to about US$8,210). Two-thirds of this revenue was made from beekeeping activities, including honey production, aggregation and refining of beeswax and colony multiplication. Before the intervention of the project, the youth were jobless school dropouts and had limited skills in income generating activities. Lack of their own land also means that they could not till the land like their parents did to secure their livelihoods. The YESH project helped them to secure their own land that they can use for beekeeping and complementary agricultural activities, like the nearly 10,000 unemployed youth that the project set out to support in commercial beekeeping.

The Adamu, Getahun and Friends Honey Production and Processing Enterprise is certainly a trailblazer of exemplary entrepreneurship around beekeeping in their district.

Ones recruited and organized into beekeepers' enterprises, the project supports these youths in skills development training, delivery of beekeeper starter kit and technical supervision. Training includes entrepreneurship skills development, beekeeping technical skills development, sericulture technical skills development, product handling and post-harvest processes and finance management. Colony multiplication training is also offered to outstanding beekeepers who have the motivation and readiness to demonstrate queen rearing and colony splitting practices to other beekeepers in their locality.

The Adamu, Getahun and Friends Honey Production and Processing Enterprise is certainly a trailblazer of exemplary entrepreneurship around beekeeping in their district. They have become a champion of commercial inclusive beekeeping in their area.


YESH project is a partnership between icipe and Mastercard Foundation, that trains young people in modern beekeeping and silk farming techniques and equip them with entrepreneurship skills. The five-year program (2016-2020) is targeted to reach 10,000 young people in the Amhara Regional State.

The International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) is a non-profit, scientific research organization known by its evidence-based research products and tools, facilitating learning, strengthening capacity building and uptake. Since 1993, icipe has been contributing to Ethiopia's development by introducing its portfolio of technologies under the 4-H (health) research themes-Human Health, Animal Health, Plant Health and Environmental Health. Generating and testing technologies that bring impacts, making smallholder farmers the principal beneficiaries, providing technical backstopping and capacity building are our core values. AS

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