This study was conducted to assess honeybee production practices in Sekota district, northern Ethiopia. The district comprises a total of 33 kebeles (peasant associations at the lowest admistrative level) which were classified into three highland (1800-2200 m.a.s.l.), 24 midland (1500-1800 m.a.s.l.) and six lowland (<1500 m.a.s.l.) areas. From these, two, four and three kebeles were randomly selected from the highland, midland and lowland areas, respectively. A total of 90 beekeeping households were selected purposively: ten from each kebele based on their experience in keeping honeybees and involvement in extension activities. Primary data were collected through household interviews and key informants using a semi-structured questionnaire. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected on household profiles, number and types of hives used, type of beekeeping equipment used, honeybee floras, honey flow season, honey yield and price of honey. The quantitative data generated were analyzed using the SPSS software and qualitative data obtained were summarized in the form of tables. Results indicated that there were three types of honeybee production methods which are traditional, transitional and modern production and the beehives were exclusively kept in backyards in all production methods. Although, Zander modern hives were recently introduced in the area, modern beekeeping method attracted the attention of most beekeepers. As a result many farmers were shifting to box hive beekeeping activity. The price of honey increased from 2.3 and 3.1 to 3.9 and 5.2 US$/kg for crude red honey and pure white honey, respectively over the four-year period ( 2011-2014). The most important sources of honeybee forage (in terms of preference by honeybees and abundance) were: Becium grandiflorum, Euclea shimperi, Sorghum bicolor, and Echinops spp. Others were Acacia tortolis, Acacia seyal, Acacia asak, Terminalia glaucescens, Hypoestes trifolia, Ocimum bacilicum, Aloe spp., Bidens spp., Euphorbia spp. and Vicia faba. It was further revealed that majority of the important honeybee floras in the area flower between August and September. Ocimum bacilicum was the dominant swarm attractant plant used while dried cattle dung was the most used smoking material in all the agro-ecologies. Returning the swarm back to colony as a method of controlling swarming was rarely practiced since the honeybee colonies were very important income sources for the household economy as the colonies can be sold at satisfactory price (up to 400 Ethiopian Birr/colony). For sustainable apicultural development in the area, provision of training to beekeepers on colony management and establishing market linkages of producers with processors and exporters is important. Moreover, research on the effects of materials used as smoker fuels (materials used for smoking during hive inspection) and swarm attractants on the quality of honey is required.


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