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Result 1: Bee health facilities for innovative technologies and provision of pests risk analysis baselines and benchmarks established

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Bee health facilities in East (Kenya and Ethiopia), West (Liberia and Burkina Faso), and Central (Cameroon) Africa will have an impact on 15,000 beekeepers/farmers. A total of 25,000 beehives with accessories will be distributed to produce 375 tonnes of honey and 40 tonnes of bees wax and related spill over products (royal jelly, propolis) on yearly basis. Beehives will be utilized for pollination services of 7,500 hectares of commercial agriculture with an estimated yield increase of 15-25% and for rejuvenation of natural forests and wild flora for natural fodder production and bio-prospecting of wild harvest.

The target countries have been selected on the basis of the following criteria:

  1. having a presence of Development Partners Groups, RECs, SROs, and farmers federations with regional mandate, and with different agro-ecological conditions in Francophone and Anglophone countries;
  2. hosting AU-IBAR/icipe bee keeping and animal health projects financed by IFAD, UNDP-GEF, Biovision, CORDAID.

This selection will enhance synergies and complementarities between the present bee health programme and on-going bee keeping and pollination initiatives and will improve regional cooperation to develop regional and continental policies and legislation aspects.

Activity 1.1: Refurbishment of one research and training centre in Kenya (Bio-safety level-2)

The research and training centre in Kenya is hosted by icipe and serves as:

  1. a reference laboratory for training of scientists from various parts of the continent; and
  2. a hub for novel research and biotechnology in honeybee and other pollinators' diseases.

It is also a centre of excellence for bee health research in Africa. Its management is overseen by a Project Steering Committee (PSC) chaired by AU-IBAR, with members from participating countries, farmers' federations and selected European scientific organizations. The centre develops management strategies to cope with and overcome pests and diseases in bees and provides a service to satellite stations in terms of monitoring pest and diseases presence and spread.

To implement our work, the centre has the following primary objectives:

  • Conduct surveillance and diagnosis of bee diseases and pests.
  • Analyze pesticide residues in honeybee products and investigate semiochemicals for bee pests as a complementary approach to pesticide treatments.
  • Study the mitochondrial DNA variability in the various honeybee races and develop DNA fingerprinting and gene sequencing tools.
  • Record the impact on absconding and migration pattern of bees due to effects of diseases and pests.
  • Breed African honeybee queens for various traits such as disease resistance, royal jelly production, pollination services, and honey and propolis production.
  • Investigate the functional ecology of floral traits, the dynamics of pollen transport, competition for pollinator services, and patterns of specialization and generalization in plant–pollinator interactions.
  • Monitor the impact of climate change on pollinators and pollination services for agricultural and forest eco-systems.
  • Assist AU-IBAR to raise awareness and execute training of the beekeepers/farmers, and formulate/implement policy and legislation regarding pollinators/bee health in the five project countries.

Activity 1.2: Refurbishment of four research and development satellite stations with regional mandate in East (Ethiopia), Central (Cameroon) and West Africa (Liberia and Burkina Faso) (Bio-safety level 1)

The satellite stations are, among other things:

  • Conducting surveillance and diagnosis of bee diseases and pests.
  • Recording the pesticide hazards and risk assessment of chemical pollution in the honey and hive products.
  • Building the capacity of farmers' federations and national beekeepers in pollination services and all aspects of managing bee diseases and pests for beehive products (royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis, wax, bee venom and brood food) development and livelihood improvement.
  • Promoting the rejuvenation of forests (and thus an improvement of habitat quality, as the bees will provide pollination services).

The regional government in each country where a beekeeping satellite station is based has provided laboratory space for the station. An MOU has been signed with the relevant ministry and the department in each country. The project is refurbishing and equipping these satellite stations to level 1.

Activity 1.3: Equipping five research facilities with diagnostic tools for surveillance and detection of bee diseases in African colonies for undertaking bee health research

The project has developed a standardized surveillance network assessment tool (SNAT) to analyse the African colony losses in collaboration with the Bee Doc group in Europe (Germany-Halle; Sweden-Uppsala; France-Avignon; Switzerland-Bern and) and in addition, the Netherlands-Wageningen.

The SNAT analysis will allow the countries to be classified into different categories: those with:

  1. a very good level of compliance with the standards of a good operating system (1 system);
  2. an upper intermediate level of compliance (2 systems);
  3. a lower intermediate level of compliance (1 system); or
  4. a low level of compliance (1 system).

The purpose of this activity is to:

  • Review the general principles that constitute the basis for accurate and strategic surveillance;
  • Draw conclusions on perspectives and requirements of future surveillance of honeybee colony losses;
  • Propose a surveillance framework to be used by African scientists to allow them to implement a relevant and effective system;
  • Provide future applicants with useful recommendations and assist in the design and improvement of surveillance systems.

These studies will dynamically harmonize surveillance procedures to allow an accurate estimation of colony losses within and throughout participating African countries. In addition, taking advantage of the active procedures to be established, the pilot project will support the implementation of prevalence studies on priority diseases/pests of honeybees (that use shared epidemiological indicators to estimate incidence following the harmonized procedures). In particular, after establishing the proper characteristics of Varroa destructor and other pests, it is considered crucial to assess the infestation levels using consistent protocols throughout the participating African countries to get comparable data on populations of the pests before the dry season.

Activity 1.4: Setting up model apiaries at selected NARS/national beekeeping stations and farmers' fields to demonstrate the application of intervention logics and scaling up hive products and pollination services at each project site

The project has signed agreements with the national beekeeping stations or equivalent entities in the Ministry of Livestock or Agriculture in each project country. The large apiaries will be set up at the beekeeping station as well as in the community fields for training and demonstration. The project staff will teach the beekeepers the basics of modern beekeeping. Taking this course will help beekeepers to learn more about the process of beekeeping and the importance of bee health and its effect on pollination services. Interacting with experienced beekeepers will help the other beekeepers to learn more about the practical aspects of beekeeping and bee health. The project will obtain beekeeping supplies and procure all the materials beekeepers will need to set up the beehives. This will typically include the different parts of the hive (brood chamber, queen excluder and super, top cover and bottom board), a hive tool, smoker, protective suit, veil helmet, gloves, bee feeder and food (a mixture of yeast, icing sugar, soya powder or pollen etc., in water). The project will select the location for siting each beehive, taking into consideration the availability, within a vicinity of 10 square miles, of flowering vegetable crops, fruit and other trees, weeds and bushes, to act as a pollen source for bees. If no natural water source is available, the beekeepers will set out a pan of water. A location that has a windbreak, like bushes or trees, will be selected. This will keep beehives away from view and shelter the apiary against wind.

Activity 1.5. Develop screen houses at NARS/national beekeeping stations for demonstrating and training Farmer's Federations in the use of various bee species for pollinating food crops

The project is building greenhouses in each of the five participating countries (Kenya, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Liberia), at beekeeping stations or agricultural research institutes and at icipe training apiaries. The greenhouses will be located where it gets maximum sunlight. The first choice of location is the south or southeast side of a building or stand of shade trees. Sunlight all day is best, but morning sunlight on the east side is sufficient for the plants. Morning sunlight is most desirable because it allows the plant's food production process to begin early, thus maximizing on the growth. The greenhouse will also provide the proper environment for growing plants from pollination experiments and training given to the beekeepers/farmers.

A screenhouse with pollinating bees will provide more practical methods of hybridization of two desirable parent species of commercial crops with better traits. This method has been used in South Africa (Cilliers et al., 1996). This procedure involves the planting of self-compatible female and male parents in specially prepared breeding plots in the screenhouse, into which honeybees, stingless bees or other bee pollinators, are introduced to effect cross pollination and higher yields. The bees and stingless bees will be kept outside the screenhouse and their entry provided using a plastic pipe from hive entrance into the screenhouse. This is because, apart from bumblebees and carpenter bees, the other bees feel uncomfortable inside a screenhouse.

Activity 1.6. Establish one marketplace for processing, packaging, and trading of honey and hive products in each participating country

The project is using a two-pronged approach to restore bee health in the environment and food security: The first is by addressing the causes and impacts of ecosystem degradation on the pollinators. The second is by introducing through capacity building, a bee health management strategy and alternative sources of income through the development of marketplaces for honey and hive products. This involves the construction of one marketplace in each participating country (Ethiopia, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Liberia and Kenya) for honey production, packaging and marketing from healthy colonies. Training of trainers and the beekeepers in hives management, queen rearing, hive products harvesting techniques and handling of the honey comb will enable the beekeepers' products to attain the necessary quality for meeting the market standards. Further training in the management of the Internal Control System (ICS) for organic certification will enable the producer groups to gain organic certification and access to premium international markets. The Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT) and the Threat Reduction Assessment Tool (TRAT) will be used to monitor the management impact under this project. Biodiversity monitoring will be carried out through surveys of stingless bees, honeybees, and other pollinators at the selected project sites.