As organic beekeeping spreads like wildfire across eastern Zimbabwe, the industrious little insects are helping to preserve forests and prevent woodland fires.
To start his day, Benjamin Chatambura inspects his 250 beehives scattered over a small plot – to make sure that no unwanted visitors – that is, thieves – have come overnight.
“It gets me motivated,” the 39-year-old soft-spoken beekeeper told DW as his children watch from a distance. After that, he checks to see if there any hives are ready for harvesting.
His kids are afraid of bees, but they like what they produce. “It is sweet and it pays their school fees,” he said.
Until recently, beekeeping was of little interest to most Zimbabweans living in the country’s eastern district of Mutasa, a lush green mountainous region about 350 kilometers (217 miles) from the capital Harare. It was a niche business like many others.
That has changed dramatically since the nonprofit organization Environment Africa started encouraging locals to get into the beekeeping business as a means of providing alternative livelihoods and protecting the forests.
The project, which is active in other parts of Zimbabwe and several other African countries as well, is financed by the European Union and managed by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization(FAO).
”This project has changed not only the lives of people in this community, it has managed to preserve trees,” said Lawrence Nyagwande, the field officer for Environment Africa in Manicaland province. “Deforestation had become the order of the day here and had reached alarming levels.”
Busy bees prevent fire