Thanks to our partner, Saving The Wild, Big Life has been able to implement a beekeeping and honey production enterprise in the ALOCA Kimana Conservancies. The project aim is to provide another nature-based benefit to the landowners in the form of a scholarship fund for their daughters from the profits from the honey sales, and it offers an alternative livelihood model that is low-impact and nature-based.
Currently there are 200 hives, over half of which are occupied with bees. And after a tough and prolonged dry season at the end of 2021, we are finally approaching our first harvest from a selection of the strongest hives in the coming weeks.
Launching any new program is always challenging, but it’s especially challenging when your project involves a particularly tasty treat in an ecosystem full of smart and curious animals.
Late last year, a very determined honey badger was able to burrow under fencing through very rocky and hard ground and gained entry to one of Big Life’s new apiaries, where it had a feast. In total, that honey badger knocked 14 hives from their stands and consumed all the honey they contained.
Once the breach was discovered, we had to mobilize very quickly to come up with a solution and protect the remaining hives, because we knew that honey badger would keep coming back. Until supplies could be purchased, heavy rocks were placed in the hole it had dug, and torches were set up overnight to deter it’s return. Ranger teams also assisted with patrols throughout the night to check on the apiary.
The bee team then worked to build a 2-foot-deep cement and wire mesh re-enforced foundation around all the apiaries. As they worked on the first one, another honey badger attack happened at a second, and four additional hives were lost. Thankfully, we were able to respond faster this time and recapture the colonies, which had moved to nearby trees.
Thanks to the hard work of the beekeepers, workshop and ranger teams, all apiaries have now been secured with a cement foundation. The honey badger returned and tried to dig through but was unsuccessful, so for now we have outmaneuvered it. One can’t help but admire the tenacity of badgers!