Repairing Nzai’s Beehive Fence
Report from International intern, Nathan Dowds
Mwangome Nzai is an elderly and charming farmer from the Mwakoma community who lives right next to Tsavo East National Park and are therefore quite badly affected by elephant crop-raiding incidents. We built Nzai his beehive fence in 2012 but sadly due to a family tragedy last year he had to stop work on the farm for a period and his beehive fence fell to disrepair. An online campaign was launched on the Elephants and Bees Facebook page with an appeal to raise funds to help Nzai and his family. We were overwhelmed with kind donations from our friends far and wide and the money raised was enough to repair and reconstruct the entire beehive fence around Nzai’s farm and home so that it can once again provide protection from trespassing elephants from the neighboring Tsavo East NP.
On arrival at the Elephants and Bees Project I was fortunate to be handed the responsibility of carrying out this task, with the money raised we were able to reconstruct a beehive fence to surround one full acre with 12 beehives and 12 dummy hives to make a beehive fence of 240 meters. We employed local labourers from the community to help Nzai coppice adequate posts for the fence, and with the extra hands of the Exeter University Enactus team who interned with us during July we were able to rebuild his fence in a few days.
Not only did we re-build his beehive fence but there was money left over to also install gutters on the roof of his simple house and install a 500 liter water tank to store rainwater. This is a significant gift for a subsistence farmer who otherwise could only collect 20 liters at one time from a water stand 9km away. The rainwater water catchment system will benefit Nzai and Janet hugely in the next rainy season and, of course, it will also ensure that there is water available for his bees all year round – essential in an area as arid as Tsavo.
This project allowed me to spend a great deal of time with Nzai, drinking sweet tea and listening to his school day tales during the colonial period! It is a pleasure to see Nzai stroll around his beehive fence with pride, knowing he will be able to sleep without the constant fear of elephants destroying his crops in a single raid and to hear his excitement about once again harvesting his hives and gaining an alternative source of income. Thank you to all of you who donated so generously and helped us to achieve this special project.