By Tapiwa Mkabeta WINDHOEK Among local communities, bees are nothing more than a stinging threat. Yet, it has been proven that these social insects pollinate between seventy to ninety percent of Namibia’s flora and thus play a vital role in nature. But Namibia still imports the bulk of its honey. Even after some proposals were made to initiate some beekeeping projects in northern Namibia, the country still imports 90 % of its honey needs. People still regard bees as dangerous insects rather than honey producers that could build a possibly lucrative honey market. According to Roland Graf Zu Bentheim, a beekeeper, beekeeping has a high potential in northern Namibia and would also benefit rural folks. “Some people who come across beehives collect the honey and burn or poison the bees,” said Bentheim. Hence the importance of intensifying promotion campaigns on beekeeping in Namibia. Bentheim insists that people need to be educated about beekeeping and honey harvesting skills so as to stop the killing of honeybees. Bentheim reiterated that beekeeping is a likely employment base for approximately 50 000 people in the next ten years, if plans are put in place to sensitise marginalised rural people on the advantages of beekeeping. Some beekeepers have suggested that local municipalities and the Government can assist the cause of the honeybee by allocating land to keen beekeepers for improved honey harvesting. Last year, Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Libertina Amathila, officiated at the San Development Project which incorporates bee keeping. This initiative saw twelve people from the San community undergoing an intensive 10-day course in beekeeping. According to Bentheim, projects such as these will improve the lives of many poor Namibians. “Friends of the Honeybees”, a bee exhibition held each year, has been one of the efforts to help do away with the misconception people have about bees. This year, the exhibition was held on 27 and 28 January with a fair turnout. Bentheim stated that the yearly exhibition focuses on beekeeping, honey harvesting and ways to start beekeeping. Most of the people at the exhibition this year were school pupils who had a chance to learn about bees as part of their natural sciences studies. If beekeeping and honey harvesting are to flourish in the next couple of years, people interested in the honeybee initiative need proper training, and alternatively land for beekeeping. “If we do not do anything about the Namibian honeybee, Vision 2030 will lose the honeybee and a greater part of our flora will soon die out,” said Bentheim.
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