Beekeeping is a long standing traditional activity among the Wakonongo living in Mlele District, Katavi region. The activity is largely male dominated in the traditional society; it is part of the forest based activity on which livelihood depended fully till the 1950’s. At the time forest was considered too dangerous for women to practice activity. The fact is that large carnivores were and are still roaming in this vast miombo woodland ecosystem, despite decreasing trends in their abundance, particularly for African wild dog and African lion.
ADAP supported the beekeeping development in the area since 2002, and numerous training have been offered to beekeepers in view to increase both quantity and quality of production. TAWIRI Tabora station (now incorporated to the Tabora Beekeeping Institute) has been a key partner in these developments.
Beekeepers are using mostly traditional hives, either made of barks, or logs. Despite ADAP support to shift to modern beekeeping, modern hives remain limited in their number, as numerous beekeepers cannot afford the price of shifting to modernity.
Beekeping is mostly practised to harvest honey and bee-wax from hives for self-consumption and for revenue generation. Quality honey prices reached significant amount (80 to 100’000 Tzsh per 8 lt. buckets in 2013) and big beekeepers have several hundred hives. In 2013, 40 tons have been produced on the 850 squ. km of the Beekeeping Zone, generating a significant income for IBA beekeepers. Local and regional markets are very demanding of high quality table honey, and IBA and its producers became recognized for the quality of the honey producted.
When well regulated and managed, beekeeping has proven its capacity to support livelihoods while remaining environmental-friendly. In Mlele District, beekeepers seem aware of the need to safeguard the forest to ensure sustainable natural honey production.