Vol.3, No.5, 354-358 (2013) Open Journal of Ecology
Plants used in traditional beekeeping in Burkina Faso
Schweitzer Paul1, Nombré Issa2,3, Ai doo Kwamé4, Boussim I. Joseph2
1Laboratoire d’Analyses et d’Ecologie Apicole Centre d’Etudes Techniques Apicole de Moselle, Guenange, France
2Institut des Sciences, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; nombre_issa@yahoo.fr
3Laboratoire de Biologie et Ecologie Végétales UFR Science et Technique Université de Ouagadougou, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
4International Stingless Bee Centre, Department of Entomology and Wildlife, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana
Received 4 January 2013; revised 5 August 2013; accepted 25 August 2013
Copyright © 2013 Schweitzer Paul et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License,
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Beekeeping is one of the recommended approa-
ches in the imple ment ati on of pover ty allev iation
programs in rural areas of Burkina Faso. How-
ever, plants that are important in beekeeping
have not been identified. The use of parts and
organs of plants by beekeepers and their me-
thods of harvesting remain unknown. These li-
mit the conservation efforts of these important
plants and affect beekeeping development. The
study w as carried out in the south-central, east-
central regions and in Comoé and Boucle of
Mouhoun regions of Burkina Fas o. The objective
of the study was to identify the plants species
used by traditional beekeepers, the different
uses made of these plant parts and organs and
then to discuss the impact of these activities on
the survival of the plant resources. An ethno-
apiculture survey was conducted in the main
apiculture zone of Burkina Faso, using semi-
structured interviews. The methodology of bota-
nical coherence or convergence was applied to
classify botanical species. Results showed that
35 botanical species were used in traditional
beekeeping. The use of plant parts or organs in
traditional hives construction represents 55%,
attraction of wild swarms in new beehives is
37.50% a nd use as a to rc h or as a smoker, 7.50%.
The barks are the organs most used. Trees are
botanical type most used. The results are not
exhaustive and therefore other additional stu-
dies need to be carried out. In order to sustain
the use of these important plants, their growing
in nursery and their planting in the field are re-
Keywords: Beekeeping; Melliferous Plants;
Pollinating; Biodiversity; Burkina Faso
Honeybees are since 2006 victims of colony collapse
disorder or (CCD) ([1-3]). Many well intentioned sug-
gestions as to the possible causes of colony losses, in-
cluding such improbable ideas as mobile telephones, ge-
netically modified crops and nanotechnology, have per-
haps overshadowed much more likely explanations such
as pests and diseases, pesticides, loss of forage and inap-
propriate beekeeping practices [2]. Bees are the major
pollinators of wild plants and crops in terrestrial eco-
systems. Honeybees are known to contribute signifi-
cantly to the provision of this essential ecosystem service
of pollination [4-6]. They are also bio-indicators for en-
vironment pollution [7,8] and beekeeping is an effective
means to generate monetary incomes that support the
livelihood of rural communities. Numerous studies have
demonstrated the economic value of honeybees to the
agricultural industry of the world [9,10]. In Africa, espe-
cially areas in south of Sahara and particularly in Burki-
na Faso, this phenomenon is not fully known because of
the lack of scientific studies [11]. [6] stated that bee-
keepers and honey hunters are sometimes perceived to
cause damages to forests, through the careless use of fire
during harvesting and because they kill trees to make
beehives. So, traditional beekeeping ha s been considered
as harmful to biodiversity conservation [12]. Others au-
thors differentiate traditional beekeeping from honey
hunting as contributing to the increase in honey bee
number. The roles of honeybees in providing ecosystem
services is a function of their number in the beehive and
varies according to the type of beehive used [13].
Burkina Faso has undertaken the modernization of its
apiculture since 1987 . Studies had been done on the mel-
liferous plants [14,15] and on the plant organs used to
attract swarms of the local honeybee Apis mellifera ad-
ansonii Latreille into newly installed beehives [16]. Tra-
ditional beekeeping is widespread in Burkina Faso and
their activities understand in the exploitation of plant
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
S. Paul et al. / Open Journal of Ecology 3 (2013) 354-358 355
parts and organs described as “extractivism” may have
conservation undertones [17]. Studies on the impact of
this activity on colony loss and oth er effects on th e envi-
ronment have not been carried out. The harvest tech-
nologies of plant organs or parts remain unrecognized,
limiting the conception of preservation efforts of melli-
ferous plants. This lack of information can moreover
constitute a handicap in the development of beekeeping.
It is to contribute to raising this constraint in relationship
with the lack of information that the present study aims
to provide knowledge on the used in traditional bee-
keeping. It will identify the various uses of the plant
parts and organs and discuss their impacts on plant re-
sources sustainability and then suggest solutions for a
sustainable management of the identified plants.
2.1. Study Area
The study was carried out in the villages of Nazinga
(south-central region), Garango (east-central region),
Tiefora (Comoé region) and Dédougou (Boucle of Mou-
houn region ) ( Figure 1).
These communities fall within the main beekeeping
zones made up of the north and south Soudanian phyto-
geographical sector of Burkina Faso.
Agriculture (crop cultivation and animal breeding) is
the main activity of the population. In all the regions,
crops (Sorghum gu in een se Staph., Zea mays Linn., Oryza
sativa Linn., and Dioscorea dumetotum (Kunt) Pax.) are
The vegetation is predominantly savannas with arustic-
landscapes dominated by species such Vitellaria para-
doxa Gaertn, Tamarindus indica Linn., Parkia biglobosa
(Jacq.) Benth, Lannea microcarpa Engl. & K. Krause,
Adansonia digitata Linn., Faidherbia albida (Del.) A.
Chev.; the groupings of Anogeissus leiocarpus (DC.)
Figure 1. Location of the study area.
Guil. & Perr. and planted species as Mangifera indica
Linn., Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehnhard, Azadirachta
indica A. Juss, Khaya senegalensis (Desn.) A. Juss, Ana-
cardium occidentale Linn., Borassus aethiopum Mart.,
Psidium guajava Linn., Cariaca papaya Linn., Annona
squamosa Linn., an d Citrus sinensis (Linn.) Osbe ck .
2.2. Methods
Ethno-apicultural investigations and field observations
were carried out using semi-structured inquiry cards on
traditional beekeepers who are 25 years of age and pos-
sessing colonized traditional beehives. The names of
plants used were transcribed into the following local
languages: Gourounsi for Nazinga zone; Bissa for Ga-
rango zone and Dioula for Tiéfora and Dédougou zones.
The plant species scientific identification was made re-
ferring to [18]. The plants parts and organs used by bee-
keepers were identified from responses obtained from at
least 10 beekeepers. A total of 103 beekeepers were in-
3.1. Different Plant Parts or Organs Used
The results showed that the barks and fibers with
37.5% of utilizations constituted the most organs used
(Figure 1). The grass, the aerial organs, the thatches of
graminaceous and the inflorescences constituted the
group of plants aerial pa rt (32.5%). The twigs constituted
12.5%, the fruits and seeds 10%, leave 5% and the tubers
were less used (2.5%).
3.2. Plants Used and Their Utilizations
The parts or organs of 35 botanical species were used in
the traditional beek eeping practices in Burkin a Faso (Ta-
ble 1).
Three kinds of utilization of the plant parts or organs
were dominants (Table 1). The first concerned the use in
the new traditional beehives construction. It repre-
Barks Aerial
parts Twigs LeavesFruitsTubers
Parts or orga n
% o f utiliz ation
Figure 2. Different plant parts or organs used in traditional
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
S. Paul et al. / Open Journal of Ecology 3 (2013) 354-358
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
sented 55%. Indeed, beehives can be made with barks,
hollowed out tree trunks, plaited straws or twigs.
The second represented the attraction of wild swarms
into newly established beehives. It represented 37.50%.
Indeed, plant p art s or organs can be used as swarm baits
substituting the Aristée perfumes, the honeybees’ charm
or comb foundation s used in modern beekeeping.
The third is the use as a torch to light beehives inside
or as a smoker during honey harvesting. It represented
3.3. Botanical Type Used
In the biological type, trees were the most used (44%);
followed in order by the grass (31%), the shrubs (22%)
and the lianas (3%) (Figure 3).
Table 1. The use of plant parts and organs in traditional beekeeping in the Burkina Faso.
Scientifique names Parts or organs used Utilizations
Acacia seyal Del. Fruits Swarms attraction
Combretum glutinosum Perr. ex DC Twigs Swarms attraction
Ctenium newtonii Hack. Thatches Swarms attraction
Cymbopogon schoenanthus subsp. proximus (Hochst. ex A. Rich.) M. & W Inflorescences Swarms attraction
Dicoma tomentosa Cass. Aerial organs Swarms attraction
Dioscorea dumetorum (Kun th) Pax Tubers Swarms attraction
Diospyros mespiliformis Hochst. ex A. DC. Leaves Swarms attraction
Guiera senegalensis J. F. Gmel. Twigs Swarms attraction
Hyptis spicigera Lam. Aerial organs Swarms attraction
Leucas martinicensis (Jacq.) Ait. Aerial organs Swarms attraction
Ocimum americanum Linn. Aerial organs Swarms attraction
Parkia biglobosa (Jacq.) Benth. Seeds Swarms attraction
Piliostigma reticulatum (DC.) Hochst. Fruits Swarms attraction
Piliostigma thonningii (Schum.) Milne-Redhead Fruits Swarms attraction
Andropogon ascin odis C. B. Clarke Thatches Honey harvest
Andropogon gayan us Kunth Thatches Honey harvest
Andropogon pseudapricus Stapf Thatches Honey harvest
Andropogon ascin odis C. B. Clarke Thatches Beehive construction
Andropogon gayan us Kunth Thatches Beehive construction
Andropogon pseudapricus Stapf Thatches Beehive construction
Borassus aethiopum Mart. Leaves Beehive construction
Burkea africana Hook. Bark Beehive construction
Daniellia oliveri (Rolfe) Hutch. & Dalz. Bark Beehive construction
Detarium microcarpum Guill. & Perr. Bark Beehive construction
Feretia apodanthera Del. Twigs Beehive construction
Hibiscus asper Linn. Fibers Beehive construction
Isoberlinia doka Craib & Stapf Bark Beehive construction
Lannea acida A. Rich. Fibers Beehive construction
Loudetia togoensis (Pilger) C. E. Hubbard Thatches Beehive construction
Piliostigma reticulatum (DC.) Hochst. Fibers Beehive construction
Piliostigma thonningii (Schum.) Milne-Redhead Fibers Beehive construction
Prosopis africana (Guill. & Perr.) Taub. Bark Beehive construction
Pseudocedrela kotschyi (Schweinf.) Harms Bark Beehive construction
Pterocarpus erinaceus Poir. Bark Beehive construction
Saba senegalensis (A. DC.) Pichon Twigs Beehive construction
Fluggea virosa (Roxb. ex Willd.) Baill Twigs Beehive construction
Tamarindus indica Li nn. Fibers Beehive construction
Terminalia avicennioides Guill. & Perr Bark Beehive construction
Vitellaria paradoxa Gaertn. Bark Beehive construction
Xeroderris stuhlmannii (Taub.) Men Bark Beehive construction
S. Paul et al. / Open Journal of Ecology 3 (2013) 354-358 357
Trees 44%
Sh r ubs 22%
Liana 3%
Grass 31%
Figure 3. Different plants biological types used in traditional
In the traditional beekeep ing practices, different plants,
parts or organs are used by the beekeepers in different
ways. The construction of beehives is more important in
the utilization of plants and also their parts or organs.
The technology us ed to remove these parts or organs can
be negative for the environment because it affects the
regeneration and the survival of the plants used. Indeed,
according to [17], the cutting down has negative impacts
on the individual tree, because, even if it presents a po-
tential of stump rejections, they have only very slight
chance to survival. That will appear as habitat degrada-
tion and outright destruction and can be the major causal
factor in the decline of bees [5].
Often, the plants used were also excellent nectar spe-
cies and then the loss of trees has negative implications
for beekeepers because they lose food and nesting sites
for wild bees, materials for building hives and places to
keep hives. However, beekeepers must make deliberate
and conscious efforts to protect and conserve forests in
which their bees forage, despite their dependency on
these resources.
There are also positives impacts on traditional bee-
keeping practices. Indeed, nesting honeybees in appro-
priate way allows them to increase their number that will
increase their role (pollinating, hone y production). Often,
the traditional beekeepers breed their honeybees even if
the hives used are rudimentary; and they only use the
smoke of burned thatch to hunt honeybees during the
harvest [16]. According to [17], the removal or whatever
organ collected is mostly made to secure not only the
survival of the exploited individual, but also the regene-
ration of the resource in a reasonable lapse of time. Fur-
thermore, according to [6], the development of tradi-
tional beekeeping based on keeping colonies, to the de-
triment of the honey hunting can increase the honeybees’
number per beehive and even per region, involving thus
an increase of their pollinating role. This development
minimizes the destructive effects of traditional beekeep-
ing on honeybees on one hand and the environment on
the other. Also, according to [16], the utilization of plant
organs or parts to attract honeybee swarms in newly es-
tablished beehives contributes to reduce the installation
costs of beekeep i n g pr o ject s de vel o pment.
According to [6], the technologically modern man has
contributed to honeybees declines in Africa. This is evi-
dent in that bee diversity and abundance is much greater
on crops in areas surrounded by natural vegetation than
in ecosystems that have been widely transformed by ag-
riculture and other exotics along with removal of natural
vegetation through urbanization.
Traditional beekeep ing contributes greatly to biodiver-
sity conservation in Burkina Faso. Despite the negative
effects that are attributed to some of its activities, it al-
lows for the establishment and management of wild
swarms of honeybees in appropriated ways for hive
products. The pollinating role of honeybees in the eco-
system is therefore enhanced. Plants, parts and organs are
used at different levels in this system of apiculture. The
effects of the use of plants and their organs in traditional
beekeeping practices on the vegetation and the environ-
ment remain negligible. Traditional beekeepers therefore
sustain the populations of honeybees in the environment
which contribute to the essential ecosystem service of
pollination an d biodiversity conservation. Negativ e prac-
tices of wild honey hunting should be replaced with tra-
ditional bee kee pi n g.
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