Zimbabwe –– THE continued increase in incidents of uncontrolled wild fires has greatly affected apiculture where farmers are now largely relying on supplementary feeding to produce honey as tree flowers from where bees get nectar are under threat.
A recent visit to bee farmers in Lupane during a tour organised by Environment Africa which initiated the programme to create awareness and environment conservation methods which are also economically empowering, revealed a gloomy picture as farmers lamented the threat posed by uncontrolled veld fires to the production of honey and the general risk their apiaries were exposed to.
They said the bees were not getting enough nectar as trees and other plants from whose flowers they were supposed to extract it were destroyed by uncontrolled veld fires.
As a result, they said they were giving the bees supplementary feeding of sugar solution and a little salt to avoid causing them diarrhea as part of efforts to maximize honey yields.
Thuthukani beekeeping club chairman who is also the village head of Gumede village, Mr Benjamin Moyo, said they were forced to prepare fireguards around their apiaries to protect them in the event of an uncontrolled fire.
He said they currently have 26 boxes which they were looking forward to increasing.
They have also fenced and planted some trees around the apiary not only as an environmental friendly programme meant to counter the effects of deforestation but to create a conducive forest environment for the bees and to bring flowers closer to them so as to increase honey yields in the long run.
We are very thankful to Environment Africa. They have taught us bee farming. We used to think that bees are not very friendly but now we are working with them on a daily basis. We are worried, however, by the level of ignorance of the importance of conserving the environment that some communities are displaying. The biggest challenge that we are facing is that of uncontrolled veld fires. Our apiaries are under constant threat and that is why we have made fireguard. We have also been advised by Environment Africa to plant trees around our apiaries to create a forest environment for our bees and to provide them with easy access to the flowers.
We currently have 26 boxes and we are looking forward to doubling the number, said Mr Moyo.
The farmers said the bees were very valuable to them in that they were helping increase their maize yields, as they were the best agents of pollination.
Environment Africa country director, Mr Barnabas Mawire, said he was gratified by the level of commitment shown by the Lupane communities in putting efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change through environmental friendly interventions that also economically empower the rural communities.
Lupane district administrator, Mr Christopher Chuma, thanked Environment Africa saying he was happy that there was a late realisation that the district had big development potential.
He said plans should be put in place to establish a honey factory in the district to help communities become self-sufficient and kill the culture of begging.