BY LIONEL TAORAO in Ulawa Island, Makira/Ulawa Province
THE number of people venturing into beekeeping on Ulawa Island has increased recently, as the buying price for bulk honey on Ulawa continues to increase.
The increase, according to some long-time beekeeping farmers is attributed to the demand for honey from Ulawa Island in Honiara.
One honey farmer, Mr John Saelopo says that many people have ventured into beekeeping as it is better than copra processing requires hard labour and does not have much good income.
“Already, we have many new farmers who have recently got their first hives, some already have two which is good because with honey, their families can get good income to support them in terms of school fees and other family needs as many of us who have been selling honey for sometimes now have experienced”, he says.
“Many people today have come to realise that with the other commodities; copra, kava, cocoa and ginger which many families on Ulawa have grown for income basis requires hard labour unlike beekeeping where there is no hard labour with better income”, Mr Saelopo adds.
He said that with the increasing number of people going into beekeeping, it is therefore important that responsible ministry should come down to hold trainings for these farmers who are new to beekeeping as well as give assistance with beekeeping tools and equipments so that farmers can increase their number of hives.
Mr John also stressed that one of the major difficulties many farmers face is the lack of bee wax and management skills.
He adds that farmers in the past years receive assistance from the SISBEC who have helped a lot of farmers through trainings and materials.
Another beekeeper who is from Su’u Moli village, John Walaala, says that many people especially in his area today have come to see how beekeeping is helping families meet their family needs and is a good income with less hard labour.
“With honey, we get good money to meet school fees and other family needs and wants compared to copra which requires hard labour “, he says.
“A small bucket of honey ( 2kg breakfast crackers bucket) is worth $1,500-00 to, compared to copra, that’s about 5 bags of dried copra”, Mr Walaala says.
It is estimated that there are more than a hundred honey bee farmers now on Ulawa Island.
Currently, there are more than three buyers that are buying bulk pure honey from beekeepers on Ulawa Island.