Beekeeping is the maintenance of bee colonies, in man-made hives. In Zambia, most such bees are honey bees in the genus Apis. Today improved beehives are promoted to help increase production, such as the top bar hive.
Beekeepers are called honey farmers, apiarists, or less commonly, apiculturists Bees are useful to humankind in many ways - they produce honey and beeswax, and they pollinate crops. The location where bees are kept is called an apiary.
In Zambia beekeeping is a traditional practice that dates back 500 years in North-Western Province, a major beekeeping area. Bark hives, when installed in trees, can last several years. The methods used have been passed down from generation to generation among beekeeping families.
The strong link between forests and traditional beekeeping creates opportunities for promoting beekeeping as an incentive for sustainable forest management. Beekeeping and honey hunting improve diets for an estimated 250,000 farmers and are an important source of income for 20,000 rural households in Zambia. Beekeepers manage bees with scientific knowledge and earn an income from selling high-quality honey.
There are several honey processing companies that buy raw honey from traditional beekeepers, process the honey for market and distribute it to retail outlets. Zambia also has a growing export market for organic honey.