Agnes Cheptepkeny motions towards her small tin house where two of the rooms from floor to ceiling are filled with bucketfuls of honey. “This is my bank” she says.
“When I have money, I buy honey. This is how I save up. And when I need cash, I can sell a bucket or two,” tells Cheptepkeny, 53, whose one bucket of honey is worth about $89.
She lives in a town of Marigat, in Baringo County, in the Rift valley. Marigat is a fast growing town lying in Baringo County. Communities from the Tugen, Ilchamus, and Pokot tribes live here. They are known for their beekeeping and the good quality honey they produce.
Cheptepkeny is from the Tugen tribe and has been selling honey for a long time.
People produce honey for consumption, because it’s high in energy and is used as a sweetener and as a medicine. The honey and beeswax is also sold to earn a little extra money. In some communities, it is still used as part of a bride’s dowry.
Kenya is not very famous for its honey. Ethiopia and Tanzania are places where the largest amounts of this liquid gold is collected. But the natural landscape in Kenya is similar so beekeeping thrives here as well. Producers are considering avenues for exporting more honey, although they are still becoming familiar with and working to adapt new technologies.
Above, we see a bee clinging to a freshly harvested honeycomb
Philip Kipyertor, 41 and Joseph Kipkoshoni, 70, check their beehives in Marigat.
Lack of business knowledge and diminishing interest from younger generations to maintain the beekeeping traditions, as well as the threat of parasites and pesticides used in agriculture, climate change, an unorganised market, and undeveloped infrastructure pose further challenges for their goals.