Beekeeping in Ethiopia is an ancient tradition, stretching back into the country’s early history, between 3500 and 3000 B.C. It is an important activity for many rural people and is carried out in home gardens all over the country. The collection and selling of honey and other bee products is a major economic activity, employing up to two million people.
Ethiopia, with over 10 million honeybee colonies, is the country with the highest honeybee population in Africa. The honey production estimated at 50,000 metric tons per annum is said to represent only 10.7% of the country’s production potential. Ethiopia is the 4th largest producer of beeswax and the 10th largest honey producer in the world.
Despite its long history, beekeeping in Ethiopia is an undeveloped sector of agriculture. The majority of beekeepers are still using traditional methods, which means both low quality and quantity. With help from various NGOs, as well as efforts from the Ethiopian government, beekeepers have today been introduced to modern hives. This makes it possible to produce quality honey and large quantities.
In 2008, EU recognized Ethiopia as a honey exporter and today there is a global demand for Ethiopian honey, wax and other bee products. More than 90 % of beekeepers in the country are still producing honey using traditional hives, but the future of Ethiopia´s beekeepers looks brighter than ever.