Bee fodder botanical survey

Blog by Dr Lucy King, Project Leader

Thanks to funding from our friends at The Rufford Foundation we’ve just finished our wet season botanical survey down on our Elephants and Bees beehive fence project in Sagalla, Tsavo, with vital expertise from our ethno-botanist colleague Anne Powys from The Suyian Trust.

Following on from our dry season botanical survey completed in May 2014, this wet season survey has been so fascinating to learn what rain-dependent plants our beehive fence honey bees are visiting now to gather nectar, pollen and the gums and resins vital for a healthy bee colony. Thanks to our team’s effort from Anne Powys, Lucy King, John Ndege and Emmanual Mwambingu we have now identified a total of 240 trees, shrub and climber species which will now be dried, pressed, mounted, labelled and stored in our onsite herbarium. This is a very long process and will probably take 1-2 months to complete with the time needed for drying and mounting the specimens professionally. For those species we know the family or genus name but are not sure about which species it is, we will take our specimens to The National Herbarium at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi and use their stored specimens to help guide us towards the species name. We have already submitted a handful of rare specimens to the National Herbarium from our dry season survey in May.

We are not yet focusing on the grass species – there are SO many to learn and press and although they do provide vital pollen for our bees, we have decided to concentrate mostly on the trees, shrubs and climbers which are just slightly more important for production of our valuable Elephant-Friendly Honey.

looking into bushes with john flower with insects anne with a seed pod Anne recording notes John with plant specimenAnne with Wabongo

Team in baobab Lucy in the bushes

Seed pod in hand

Team pressing plants in evening

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