Forest Beekeeping [Cameroon]

technologies_1360 - Cameroon

Completude: 63%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:

Verina Ingram

Cifor Cameroon


Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Book project: SLM in Practice - Guidelines and Best Practices for Sub-Saharan Africa (SLM in Practice)
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) (Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)) - India

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Apiculture (beekeeping) is a traditional practice providing a high number of non-timber forest products.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Apiculture (beekeeping) has been traditionally practiced for at least a century in Cameroon; with forest-based apiculture increasing in the last 2 decades. The ancient art of honey hunting, and the more recent apiculture and its products like honey, wax, propolis, bee venom and royal jelly, are examples of non-timber forest products (NTFP). A number of projects were supporting production and marketing, due to the conservation and development benefits of beekeeping. Beekeeping has low establishment costs and requires little land or labour, and by providing a suitable environment for the hives in a favourable location (i.e. forest with a range of melliferous trees and plants and sufficient water available year round) it is possible to sustainably harvest a range of bee products on an annual basis. For processing of the honey, the honeycomb is filtered and honey can be bottled and sold. Higher value is obtained by packaging and labelling. In Cameroon up to 4 US$/kg can be achieved for good quality honey. It can also be sold for industrial use – for example bakeries, sweets. If combs are washed, the resulting honey-water can be made into wine. Wax needs to be melted and cleaned, and can then be sold ‘raw’ for a price of about 2-6 US$/kg, or further processed into candles, soaps and creams. In Cameroon, the consumer market is expanding and a small, niche export market for high quality, certified organic and fair trade wax, honey and propolis, is emerging. The exports to Europe and the US require quality assurance schemes that entail costs, expertise and collaboration between government and beekeepers. The number of hives per bee-farmer can vary considerably from a few up to 150 hives. Approximately 15 hives can be installed per hectare. Beekeepers can be good ‘guardians of the forests’, because they know that the forest provides both forage and water for the bees, and the water and materials needed to make hives and process apiculture products.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:

Mount Oku region, Mountainous forests of Northwest Cameroon

Further specification of location:

Bui, Boyo, Mezam and Donga Mantung divisions

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • more than 50 years ago (traditional)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • as part of a traditional system (> 50 years)

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • create beneficial economic impact

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied

Forest/ woodlands

Forest/ woodlands

  • Sustainable rainforest management
Products and services:
  • Fruits and nuts
  • Other forest products

Apiculture (beekeeping)
Major land use problems (land users’ perception): Deforestation, Overuse of natural ressources

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • beekeeping, aquaculture, poultry, rabbit farming, silkworm farming, etc.

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

management measures

management measures

  • M3: Layout according to natural and human environment

Main measures: management measures

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bc: reduction of vegetation cover

Main type of degradation addressed: Bc: reduction of vegetation cover

Main causes of degradation: deforestation / removal of natural vegetation (incl. forest fires), over-exploitation of vegetation for domestic use

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • prevent land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: moderate

Technical knowledge required for land users: low

Main technical functions: Indirectly deforestation / overuse of natural forests

Layout change according to natural and human environment

4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. Construction of hives (traditional or modern, depending on skills and availability/ cost of materials)
2. Place hives on forest trees or on stands, above the level of fires, as well as away from ant and termite colonies
3. None

Establishing activities: extra information Harvesting of honey combs often done at night to minimize disturbance of the bees Comb washing water can be used in honey beer or wine in lidded buckets / basins or bottles or using as fermentation airlock

4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Labour ha 1,0 40,0 40,0 100,0
Equipment Tools ha 1,0 10,0 10,0
Equipment Smoker ha 1,0 15,0 15,0
Equipment Buckets ha 1,0 12,0 12,0
Equipment Filtering materials ha 1,0 10,0 10,0
Equipment Bottles ha 1,0 10,0 10,0
Construction material Replacement/repair hive, filte ha 1,0 15,0 15,0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 112,0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 112,0

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Wait for natural colonisation or capture a swarm and transfer to hive
2. Regular (weekly or monthly) checking of hive conditions to ensure that the colony is not disturbed by pests or damaged through wind/ rain. In drought periods a shallow bucket of water is provided to the bees. Reparation activities if needed.
3. Harvest honey (as soon as sufficient is available), wax and propolis, using a 'smoker' and clean bucket, leaving brood combs to maintain the colony (usually annually at end of rainy and/or flowering season; depends on location)
4. Filter honey from combs to separate honey and wax; then bottle and pack
5. Process wax (e.g. washing comb and boiling in water or solar melting box) and melt into moulds, using a press or centrifuge.

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Labour ha 1,0 60,0 60,0 100,0
Construction material Replacement/repair hive, filte ha 1,0 5,0 5,0 100,0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 65,0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 65,0

Machinery/ tools: machete, axe, knife

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specifications/ comments on rainfall:


Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid

Thermal climate class: tropics

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Comments and further specifications on topography:

Altitudinal zone: 1501-2000 m a.s.l. (Mountain forests)
Landforms: Also valley floors

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • fine/ heavy (clay)
If available, attach full soil description or specify the available information, e.g. soil type, soil PH/ acidity, Cation Exchange Capacity, nitrogen, salinity etc.

Soil texture: FIne/heavy (lateritic clay)

5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • high

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Market orientation of production system:
  • mixed (subsistence/ commercial)
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Difference in the involvement of women and men: small to medium scale, very poor to average level of wealth; individuals, groups cooperative or employee; cooperatives are mainly used for marketing products and/ or buying material

Population density: 50-100 persons/km2

Relative level of wealth: average, poor, very poor

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land use rights:
  • communal (organized)

Land ownership: community forest or individual (titled and not titled)
Land use rights: legal form of community management; many people keep bees by the forest edge on their farms, usually on privately owned land

Land ownership: communal / village, individual, not titled, individual, titled

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts

Income and costs

farm income

Comments/ specify:

Increased income from honey, wax and propolis sales

Socio-cultural impacts

food security/ self-sufficiency

Comments/ specify:

Subsistence use and sales of apiculture products e.g. wax / honey / propolis soaps, cosmetic, creams

health situation

Comments/ specify:

Own consumption of honey food and medicine and propolis (medicinal use)

Ecological impacts

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

Vegetation cover

Comments/ specify:

Conservation of forests and particularly melliferous trees as well as pollination of forests and crops

biomass/ above ground C

Comments/ specify:

Conservation of forests and particularly melliferous trees as well as pollination of forests and crops

plant diversity

Comments/ specify:

Conservation of forests and particularly melliferous trees as well as pollination of forests and crops

beneficial species


6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown


Comments/ specify:

Pollination in area approx 4-6 km from hive

6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)


Unknown sensitivity of bees to climatic extremes; resilience of bees is assumed, but changes in honey quality and quantity depending on forage available with changes in forest cover/ structure

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:

slightly negative

Long-term returns:


How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:

neutral/ balanced

Long-term returns:



Initial investment in hives often recouped in 2-5 years, depending on level of production

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

If available, quantify (no. of households and/ or area covered):

4500 households and 100% of the area covered

Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 91-100%

100% of land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support

4500 land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support

There is a strong trend towards spontaneous adoption of the Technology

Comments on adoption trend: Established and knowledgeable beekeepers in a community aid dissemination of technology and spontaneous adoption.

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Protection of the forest because beekeepers are aware of the benefits they receive from this ecosystem

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
Pests destroy hives / eat honey (e.g. honey badgers, ants, termites, civets) relocate hives, stronger/ different hive construction, regular checks
Theft of hives patrol forest, make agreements in community, locate hives near farms/houses, chain or lock hive.
Low production relocate hives to more forested areas, ensure hive located with < 2 km from water source in dry season
Bush fires can destroy hive agreements with farmers/pastoralists about bush fire patrols in dry season, create fire breaks around hive and support trees
Rain can destroy hive use of metal, sheet, grass, raffia or wood as protective ‘roof’, place in a ‘’bee house’’ of locally constructed materials, or under a simple shelter, and experiment with different designs