Pollination and the Honey Bee in Africa
Bee arriving to Pollinate Flower
The most important service the honeybee renders to mankind is pollination of fruit crops.
"The fact that bees are important in the pollination of many species of plants is not new, but the fact that honeybees are becoming indispensable in our agricultural economy may be considered as relatively new. Statements frequently have been made that the value of the bees in pollination exceeds by ten to twenty times their value in the production of honey and beeswax." (Hambleton, 1954.)
In the USA, some beekeepers move their hives over 2 500 kilometres away and make considerable
charges for pollination service. This shows what farmers from other parts of the world do to ensure the setting of their fruit crops.
In tropical Africa, the few wild bees left for pollination are being burnt to death every day.
Their natural abodes in trees are being destroyed.
In most African countries , people are looking on unconcerned with no programme to replace the trees and rehabilitate the bees. We need the honeybees!
As a farmer in Africa, you should consider employing honeybees just as labourers are employed on your farm. You should make sure that you have enough bees on your farm for adequate pollination, and this can best be done when you get involved in beekeeping. By doing so, you will harvest honey and wax in
addition to enjoying better crop yields.
Over 75% of all the crops in sub Saharan Africa benefit from insect pollination.
Insects including bees need forage plants for food, they visit many flowers a day in search of pollen and nectar. Many flowering plants depend upon these insects for the pollen transfer (pollination) as they forage. Adequate insect pollination improves the quality of the crop; uneven, misshaped and small fruits are often indication that pollination has been insufficient.
Among the insects, bees are considered the most efficient pollinators because they have hairy bodies which easily pick up pollen grains as they move about in flowers. During a single day one bee may visit several hundred flowers. Furthermore, bees are consistent foragers and tend to work one kind of flower at a time.
Scout bees will locate the best flowers and then encourage their hive mates to use the same source. Pollen from the anthers is trapped in hairs covering the bee and carried to the stigma of the same plant or another from the same species. This is the first step towards fertilization and the production of seeds and fruits. Bees, therefore, play a vital role in food production and overall agricultural productivity, as pollinators. So beekeeping provides pollination services.
Bees are known to increase and improve the yields of avocado, coffee, cotton, sunflower, mandarin, onion, papaya, beans, mango, bananas, and many other cash crops.
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