Ipomea ‘poisonous’ nectar killing bee-farming enterprises in Kajiado county

Modern beehives at a farm. This type of farming is dying in Kajiado. File Photo

By Abdi Hussein


Bee keeping enterprises in Kajiado county are on the verge of collapsing as bee farmers incur huge losses due to ‘poisonous’ nectar extracted by the bees from the Ipomea plant.

Currently, honey produced in Kajiado County  is considered ‘poisonous’ and avoided by traders.

Ipomea,the green leafy plant is the biggest challenge to bee farmers currently occupying more than two  million acres in the vast county. The seeds are easily dispersed by wind.

Oliame leteti ,Maasai dialect for Ipomea  isn’t eaten by domestic,endearing livestock, nor wild animals out of an awful smell.

Once this plant flower another danger looms  as bees collect nectar from the plant dashing hopes for hundreds of bee farmers.The honey is said to make the consumer doze after taking it.

“My family members used to consume the honey collected from family beehives until we realized it was making us sleepy and suffer from fatigue,”Said Nancy Marikua,Kajiado central sub county resident.

Farmers say initially they used to fetch Sh 500 for a kilogram of raw honey but it kept shrinking to Sh 100 per Kilogram.Honey brokers no longer combs  the villages for the honey like before.

‘’Bee keeping in this region is untenable.Wild honey is also too dangerous after locals discovered the honey makes consumers doze.I used to keep more than 50 beehives in my ranch but cant do it more,”Said Timothy Kores,a local bee farmer.Wild honey collecting has died a natural death in this region.

A spot check indicates most bee farmers have abandoned the enterprise with modern bee hives lying empty in thickets.Kajiado central sub county is the most affected.

The death of honey enterprise might also affect food security ;the Maasai community traditionally uses honey as food preservative especially on meat.

According to the Agricultural sector development support program (ASDSP) county coordinator Halima Nenkari the plant poses a big danger to herders  and bee farmers as the plant is spreading fast in the region.

‘’The dangerous plant is spreading at an alarming rate endangering livestock rearing and bee keeping.The  only remedy is vie  uprooting and fencing off the land.It a terrible plant  ‘’ said Halima Nenkari.

In most parts of kajiado central ,women and children spend most of their time uprooting the plant said to be affecting a person’s respiratory system.

In the next five years it’s estimated the plant shall have spread to more than 3M acres of land reducing the number of cattle by 40% endangering Maa community pastoralists way of life.Wild animals in game reserves and private sanctuaries in the entire kajiado county may be greatly affected too.

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