“I started beekeeping when I was still a little boy in primary four. I was staying with my sister in a place called Ajia. I went there because I had lost my father. When I reached there, I found the locals placing local hives. So, I just got interested and I also made my small hives. That year, I harvested and my sister sold the honey in the local market. It fetched ugx. 20,000. I was excited and that motivated me and I continued with that practice up to now.”
The Life as Beekeeper
Who belongs to your family / who is living with you?
My name is Thoriek Michael, from Pawor sub-county. I am married with children. So, in total we are 8 people in the family.
How has beekeeping changed your life?
For me, bee keeping has changed my life in many ways. I started seeing the benefits of bee keeping right when I was still in primary school. In fact, when I was in high school I continued placing my local hives. The year I joined high school, I harvested three big jerrycans. An Indian bought them at ugx. 3,000,000. That was great. It sorted out my school fees problem that year. Because of that, I have continued with bee keeping as an enterprise.
Right now, it is the biggest source of income for my family because I am not employed anywhere. From paying school fees for my children to supporting the family with basic necessities and even personal expenses. We run a small eating joint at the trading center and this project contributes a lot to sustaining that business. This structure we have put up here. The money from beekeeping is there in it. So, it has changed our life as a family otherwise life would be terrible without employment.
How do you provide a good environment for your bees?
At least after every three days, I have to check on my hives. Cleaning around, applying grease on the hive stands to stop disturbance by insects. That is why you see the site is clean
What do trees mean to you and how can they be protected?
Trees mean a lot to me. All these trees you see around here, I planted them. So trees help a lot as wind break. In fact this structure of ours at one time was saved from very strong winds by the trees we planted around. Now, the trees support my bee keeping project because the flowers provide food source for them. This place is hot during the dry season. If you don’t have trees around your homestead, you can suffer. So, generally, trees are very important.
What is the most important thing in your life?
The most important thing in my life is this agriculture work from which I need to do saving. I have to save every little money I make because I need to provide education to my children. So, that is very important to me.
What are your biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?
There are challenges. Weather affects this project a lot. If it is dry for a long time, they don’t produce much honey, so you lose a lot. Another challenge we have is lack of land. As you can see, the apiary is close to the main road and sometimes there is disturbance by the locals. In fact, one time, an old lady disturbed them when she went to ease herself. She did not know that there were bees around. They caused a lot of havoc around. People keep stealing the top covers. Others steal the top bars and use as firewood. We have another apiary a little far from here. Because that site is far, sometimes you go to check and find people have harvested it. Those are really the challenges. Overcoming these challenges is very hard, especially the issue of community attitude towards such a project. People around here are sometimes jealous when they realize you are doing better. But you can’t give up just because of that. So, we work hard to ensure we address those challenges that we can address. Others will be sorted out naturally.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Well, I am now weak and so I really don’t do much work. So, I now rest most of the time.
Which place would you like to see once?
Yea, I like visiting a place where you can learn new things, for example in Uganda here a place like Mbarara where you can learn about aqua culture, horticulture etc. Outside Uganda, I would love to visit a place where they do modern bee farming so that I can learn new ideas and bring that back home to improve my own practice.