While the beehive fences themselves are primarily important in that they mitigate human-elephant conflict by deterring elephants from crop raiding, they have an additional benefit: they produce delicious “Elephant-Friendly” honey.
The Elephants and Bees Project purchases the raw honey from the farmers at a generous price, ensuring that farmers participating in the beehive fence project have an alternative source of income and stay motivated and engaged in the project.
PROCESSING THE HONEY
Our Langstroth and Kenyan Top Bar hives are essentially wooden boxes with rows of “bars” – wooden frames on which the bees build the combs that store their brood (bee eggs and larvae), pollen and honey. In order to separate the combs with brood from the combs with honey, each of our hives has a “queen excluder” screen that allows the smaller worker bees through but prevents the larger queen bee from entering and laying eggs. Come harvesting time, we are able to remove only the bars with honey, making the honey processing easier and preventing the queen bee and the brood box from being overly disturbed.
Once the capped bars have been removed from the hive, they are taken to the research center’s Rufford Honey Room. It is at this stage that most commercial honey is heated and pasteurized. Not ours! We are proud to say that our process is 100% raw and unheated and leaves the honey pure and completely unaltered. To extract our honey we simply place the bar frames in a manual centrifuge. Cranking the lever causes the frames to spin in a circle, releasing the de-capped honey from the combs. The honey then pours out of the bottom of the centrifuge, passes through a sieve and – voila! – it is jarred and ready to be spread on some toast, sweeten some tea….. or in our case, eaten by the spoonful!
ELEPHANT-FRIENDLY HONEY SALES
Bars from the hives of different farms are never mixed during processing, so each farmers’ jars of honey produced are a unique color (ranging from a dark amber to a warm yellow), has a unique flavor, infused with the flowers of each particular farm, and is influenced by the foraging preferences of each hive’s resident bees. No two jars are ever the same!