Beekeepers in Kenya are turning away from traditional honey harvesting to tap into the growing market for bee venom, a substance gaining popularity in alternative medicine.
The non-lethal extraction process is revolutionizing the industry, providing a sustainable source of income for local beekeepers.
Using specialized bee venom collectors, beekeepers like Hamza Shabir stimulate bees to excrete venom without causing harm. This innovative approach ensures the bees’ survival while meeting the rising demand for apitoxin, commonly known as bee venom. Each bee contains only a few milligrams of venom, making the extraction process intricate and time-consuming.
Ezekiel Mumo, another beekeeper, highlights the potential of bee venom farming, stating, “Bee venom guarantees you daily income because you can harvest it every day as compared to other bee products, like conventional honey, which you have to wait for four months to harvest.”
The local market values a gram of bee venom at $30, while the international market sees prices soar to $100, emphasizing the economic potential for Kenyan beekeepers.
Alternative medicine practitioners, known as apitherapists, are increasingly incorporating bee venom into treatments. Patients, seeking relief from various ailments, are reporting positive outcomes. Apitherapist Stephen Kimani, trained in Romania, explains that bee venom triggers the production of beneficial antibodies in the body, drawing from ancient Chinese practices to target specific conditions.
Despite the positive reception of apitherapy in Kenya, there is currently no specific regulation for the practice. However, precautions, including allergy tests, are taken to minimize potential adverse reactions.
The bee venom industry’s rise highlights a harmonious balance between economic opportunity and ecological responsibility, as sustainable practices are employed to meet the surging demand for this unconventional yet valuable resource.