Api-tourism is a form of tourism connected with beekeeping as a traditional profession and with bee products in ecological, food and medicinal aspects (Wos, 2014). The activities related to api-tourism include visits in apiaries, open-air museums and bee museums where tourists have the opportunity to observe a beekeepers work, a method of making honey, its properties and specifics, to find out about other bee products, to watch how bees live in a colony, to recognize ecological correlation between a man and bees among others. Working with the Agro-tourism association of Uganda, The Uganda National Apiculture Development Organization (TUNADO) hatched the idea of engaging tourists to participate in beekeeping activities across Uganda. Apitourism is premised on the following 3 fundamental principals of tourism:
1. The Beekeeper must have something to show (Apiary, Unique way of beekeeping, unique hives, forage etc.);
2. The beekeeper must have something to do (the tourists like participating in an activity such as forage planting, harvesting of honey, hive cleaning and may be labelling and packing of honey);
3. The beekeeper must have something to sell. This is because it is not the culture of tourists to get free things nor is it their culture to give out free money. In order to tap from the foreign exchange (dollars, Euros, pounds e.t.c) that the tourists move with, they need to find a product or products that they can buy from beekeepers.
Being the Apex body for beekeepers in Uganda and having worked with Bees For Development (BfD),a UK based charity organization, TUNADO was able to use this partnership as a spring-board to have the first ever Apitourism activity take place in just before the covid 19 induced lock-down, starting on 3rd March 2020. A group of 5 beekeepers landed at Entebbe international airport on the above date (3rd March) to participate in api-tourism and visit various Ugandan beekeepers. They visited apiaries in the Central region (Zirobwe-Luweero district), Mubende, Bunyangabu, Kasese, Rubirizi, Kisoro,Mbarara and Kampala. Basing on this first Api-tourism activity which was a success, apitourism has huge potential to grow and due to this, another group of 14 Apitourists from Unites States of America(U.S.A) visited Uganda from 19th July 2023 to 22nd July 2023. These tourists enjoyed lectures on beekeeping from the TUNADO ED which happened at the TUNADO secretariat office in Ntinda; and added on apiary visits to Isingiro and Bunyangabu. The breathtaking experience was the harvesting of honey in Isingiro which they fully participated in, clad and dressed in their bee suits bought from World of Bees Uganda Limited.
Using both these previous experiences of hosting Api-tourists in the country, we at TUNADO believe that all beekeepers in Uganda have the potential to be part of the Api-tourism experience. To undergird this, beekeepers who are located on the routes to major tourist destinations in Uganda such as national parks, crater lakes, rivers and water falls stand the greatest advantage of hosting Api-tourists as they can easily co-opt beekeeping activities as part of their scheduled itinerary.
TUNADO has thus defined the following 3 routes as the current exiting api-tourism routes for our prospective visitors to Uganda:
Route 1: Kampala, Luweero, Mubende, Fortportal, Kasese, Bunyaruguru, Bushenyi, Kisoro, Kanungu, Mbarara, Masaka and Back to Kampala.
Route 2: Kampala, Masindi, Kiryandongo, Karuma, Murchison Falls National Park, Nebbi, Arua, Adjumani, Gulu and Back to Kampala.
Route 3: i.e The Eastern route: Kampala, Mukono, Jinja, Iganga, Tororo, Kumi, Soroti, Kotido, Kidepo, Kitgum, Gulu, Lira, Kampala. All farmers along these routes and in any of these districts have the potential to be hosts to tourists.
Apitourism, therefore, offers an interesting activity that many visitors to Uganda can be part of and we therefore encourage all people across the globe to visit Uganda and learn about the beekeeping journey of the pearl of Africa.