It's harvest time....as anyone living in Laikipia right now will know, this is honey time...after good rainfall, multiple flowerings of Euclea Divinorum, Croton Dicogamus and Acacia species around us, mostly Girardiaii and Nilotica, the bees are happy if aggressively defending large stores of honey.
As those of you who know we are all about self-sufficiency and sustainability and our bee keeping project has been two year's in the making. We installed the first of our 13 Langstrothe hives here in our fenced compound where the Lodge is located. Over the 15 years we have been here and made a home, the fence has enabled us to protect many important plants and tree species that come under a huge amount of pressure from the Laikipia elephant population. The protecting of trees is close to our hearts but so are the many eco system benefits that come from biodiverstiy. Protecting soil, pollinators, trees, water and plants are all interlinked with the much more visible protection of wild animals in Kenya. One would not exist without the other.
The addition of hives has been a great source of learning and excitement for our team and it is a wonderful way to prove how the protection of trees can also yield to a direct result that could benefit communities in terms of a product that could be sold. For now our honey harvest is for domestic use only, but we hope that it will have the potential to grow and create another possible revenue stream to contribute to this small business and it's role in protecting this habitat.
Langstrothe hives are quite an efficient and sustainable way to start bee keeping. The bottom brood box is kept for the bees and the queen and not harvested. The upper boxes - supers - are those to be harvested. This system means you can isolate queens from harvestable supers meaning you don't disturb or senate colonies but also that when harvesting the interference to the main hive is relatively minimal.
Our hives are each yielding approximately 8 kg minimum of honey each and so far we have potted 31 jars! It's a really satisfying project in that we can learn more about the plants and trees in our compound and how they interact with the pollinators, we learn more about bees and their highly complex existence, intelligence and general ferocity ... many stings later. Bee-keeping has been known to have mental health and general health benefits, but for now we are just delighted in being able to see it all unfold and there is nothing quite like being able to extract, sieve and pot up honey with your children, all the chatter and questions is better than any remote schooling we could ever offer them!