On the fifth day of the course, we had an exercise about apiculture. The task was to find out suitable places for beehives within given areas by using Participatory GIS. Because of the covid situation we could not interview people outside our ‘’covid bubble’’ so we concluded the interviews with the research station’s local staff.
Living area of the bees is decreasing and bees are very important for pollination. Bees also work as income generating activity for the farmers as the price of honey is high. Beehives are also used at Taita Hills as a mitigation method to human-elephant conflict as elephants tend to be scared of bees’ stings. Even though elephants’ skin is thick, the bees can sting them inside the trunk or behind the years where the skin is softer.
Land use, vegetation and flora type among other things are variables for bees’ ideological environment. Bees also are affected by altitude, distance to water, terrain and distance to roads and urban areas. In the exercise we were supposed to interview farmers about these variables and find a suitable place in their farm for the beehives.
First, we were divided into five groups and each group travelled to the staff members’ farm. Some of them were as close as 300meters from the station and some were further away in the lowlands. My group travelled to Granton’s farm, which was located about 15km away from the station but within the Taita Hills. On our way to the farm, we had a beautiful view to Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
When we arrived to the farm, we learned that Granton was already skilled in beekeeping. He had in total 4 modern and 4 traditional beehives. From experience he told us that the modern beehives are better and showed us a few plants like musisiha and murimbawasi (names in Kitaita language) that are good for the bees. Granton also told us that he inspects the hives once a month and that he cuts the grasses around the hives regularly so that they do not burn the hives in case there is a fire.
After having tour around the farm we interviewed Granton about the variables that affect beehive productivity. After the interview we marked possible best places for the beehives at the farm. After the exercise we noticed that according to our variables Granton’s farm was very perfect spot for the hives and the best spots were already occupied by his hives! Later we learned that Granton’s farm scored the best points from our variables from all the farms that were visited by the students. In the video below Granton shows how to clean (empty!) modern beehive.
On the way back we learned some Kitaita:
Thank you = Chawucha
Good day = Kwasina mana
Good night = Lale mana
Good morning = Kabuka mana
Thank you Granton for a nice day! Asante sana Granton kwa siku nzuri!