Strengthening livelihoods of smallholder farming households in Kenya : the role of beekeeping in three communities in Baringo County

Renaud Roman Heckle

Research output: Other contribution


In Kenya, beekeeping offers various benefits which could make it attractive to smallholder farmers as a possible strategy for making their livelihoods more sustainable. However, beekeeping's potential remains largely unexploited. The objectives of this thesis were, first, to explore the factors influencing the adoption of beekeeping, the types of beekeeping system and the use of bee products; second, this study assessed whether beekeeping can be a viable option of diversification for smallholder farming households in Baringo County, Kenya. Semistructured interviews were conducted with a range of informants in these communities (new beekeepers, non-adopters, group leaders, village elders and teenagers) and key stakeholders at national and local levels. The findings show that in high traditional beekeeping areas apprenticeship pathway is predominant, while in low traditional beekeeping areas most of the beekeepers follow the traineeship pathway. Beekeeping adoption has various positive impacts on the livelihoods of smallholder farming households. In all regions, beekeeping adoption helped smallholder farmers to increase their ability to meet their living costs and reduce their vulnerability to cyclical poverty because of the increased household cash flows. However, the highest benefits were observed among the beekeeping households also using honey for subsistence, and especially those with extensive systems who had lower financial risks and dependence on outsiders than those with semi-intensive systems. The findings suggest that to increase the uptake and the benefits of beekeeping for smallholder farmers the following should be considered: a) increasing public awareness of the benefits of bees and beekeeping; b) continuing and intensifying initiatives that increase the education and knowledge of the beekeepers; c) promoting and supporting access to low-cost improved technologies; d) supporting the participation of producers in market and valueaddition activities; e) supporting the creation and proper management of producer organisations and; f) protecting natural capital for beekeeping.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Aberdeen
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Beekeepers
  • Kenya
  • Economic conditions.


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