The Africa Reference Laboratory for Bee Health, with its central reference laboratory in Kenya and satellite stations in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Liberia, is a partnership between icipe and the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), with financial support from the European Union (EU), and icipe’s core donors.
The idea of establishing the facility arose out of a number of factors. First, it was based on icipe’s extensive experience conducting research on bees, with the aim of improving livelihoods while conserving biodiversity. Through these activities, icipe recognised the rising threats to bees in Africa resulting from factors such as climate change, and habitat loss due to deforestation caused by population pressures, among others.
Against this background, the Centre noted significant gaps in knowledge, and the absence of systematic procedures to monitor and analyze bees, and to address their, therefore securing this vital biodiversity. Moreover, icipe observed lack of proper approaches to incorporate bees into development strategies in Africa, as well as inadequate understanding of their economic impact, especially in regard to pollination services.
The African Reference Laboratory for Bee Health was officially inaugurated in November 2014, providing icipe researchers a new home and focal point for their cutting edge research towards improved bee health and pollination services, with the ultimate aim of enhancing the livelihoods of beekeepers and farmers across Africa, through improved honey products and crop productivity.
Through the regional satellite stations, icipe and AU-IBAR also intend to conduct extensive capacity building of beekeepers and national agricultural research institutions (NARs), in regard to the strategies that will be developed in the Laboratory. The ultimate goal is to devolve bee health management, to give ownership to Farmers’ Federations and community members, with icipe-AU-IBAR providing technical supervision.