Farmers' knowledge of bees and their natural history in Kakamega district, Kenya.
Muo Kasina, Manfred Kraemer, Christopher Martius, Dieter Wittmann
The Kakamega district is endowed with good climatic and soil conditions that have favoured agricultural production, and houses the Kakamega Tropical Rain Forest, the only remaining patch of the easternmost end of the Congo Forest. In efforts to halt its fragmentation and to salvage the remaining fragments, studies are being undertaken to convince farmers of the importance of conservation. This study considers bees and their pollinating importance in the livelihood of farmers, in order to understand the level of knowledge local farmers have about bees, and their role in crop production. A questionnaire was sent in January and February 2006 to representatives of 352 households randomly selected from 19,972 households living around the forest. Respondents were shown pictures and specimens of different insects, and after correct identification, were asked to state the food sources and nesting sites of these bees. They were asked to state how they utilize these bees and about their willingness to conserve them as pollinators. We found that Kakamega farmers could identify bees of different species, and had some knowledge of bee floral and nesting needs. Only about 50% were, however, aware of pollination and could relate it to crop productivity, but after having been introduced to the importance of bee pollination in crop production, they showed willingness to conserve bees for such purposes.
bee conservation, bee identification, folk knowledge, pollination