Supporting our Farmers – from Kenyan Top Bar to Langstroth, and closing the gap!
Report by International Intern, Rohan Vince
At Elephants and Bees, we work hard with our farmers to ensure that their fences are well maintained, and we provide ongoing training to give them the knowledge to be able to look after their hives, and more importantly their bees! We strive to give our farmers the best possible chance to attract and retain bees so that they can produce meaningful yields every season for honey harvesting.
Interns and staff at Elephants and Bees undertook the process of preparing and completing the extension of Hezron Nzumu’s fence, a farmer in the village of Mwakoma, Sagalla. Nzumu first installed his beehive fence in 2012 with 12 hives covering 75% of the land he plants crops on. However, after five years a total of 16 crop raids were recorded, with more raids undocumented. It was found from recorded data that crop-raiding elephants kept entering his farm through the open area where there were no beehives. To close off this area from future crop-raiding elephants, the fence was extended with three newly donated hives interspersed with three “dummy” hives, together with plywood shade rooves to shade the hives from the sun, and mabati honey badger guards. With the new hives and the gap now closed, the ability for elephants to enter Nzumu’s farm is reduced, which we hope will in turn reduce the number of crop-raids so that he can successfully grow his maize and cowpeas next season.
The Elephants and Bees’ inital beehive fences were made up of Kenyan Top Bar hives, and one of the first beehive fence farmers, Tabitha, has had Kenyan Top Bar hives ever since. However over the past 5 years it has been observed that the Langstroth hive is suited better to the beehive fences than the more basic Kenyan top bar hive. This year, with the help of Base Titanium, we were able to upgrade Tabitha’s fence (much to her delight) to Langstroth hives. Langstroth hives are easier to maintain and harvest than traditional or Kenyan Top Bar hives, and they produce a pure form of honey, with a greater and more reliable yield, meaning a higher revenue for the farmer.
We would like to give our sincere thanks on behalf of the Elephants and Bees Project as well as our farmers for your kind donation, which will contribute directly to providing not only economic assistance, via protecting crops and producing honey as alternative income source, but also providing greater security for the farmer’s family against crop-raiding elephants.