Recently Nancy (one of our newest donors) asked a few significant questions regarding our Bee Project to Save Elephants. Although the answers can be found in various places on the website, posting them all in one spot might be helpful to you, and other readers, as you consider donating.
10 Questions to Ask Before Donating to Our Bee Project to Save Elephants
ONE: What is the problem between elephants and farmers?
In Africa there are places where elephants and humans live in close proximity. On the fenceless boundaries between protected areas and villages, conflict happens. When elephants discover tasty farm crops they don’t wait for an invitation. Elephants have very large feet (up to 18” across) and huge appetites. Even a small herd can obliterate a farm field in no time. Farmers are brave folk and don’t stand idly by. When they retaliate with spears and clubs… it usually doesn’t end well.
Moses Ryakitimbo from Arusha, Tanzania, with his organization Alert for Endangered Wildlife Species (AFeWiS) devised a plan to end the conflict. He reached out to us at Nikela for monetary support.
TWO: Why do elephants stay away from bees anyway?
Elephants have very sensitive trunks, with tons of nerve endings. The tiny bee has a painful sting. Elephants being smart, with good memories, instinctively avoid bees. This makes creating beehive fences as a barrier between elephants and farm crops a viable solution to alleviate human elephant conflicts.
THREE: What is a beehive fence?
The beehives are literally hung up in such a manner to create a fence. Each hive is suspended between two poles. The hives are spaced a few feet apart creating a successful barrier to save elephants and protect crops. Since 2019 no elephants have entered farm fields protected by a beehive fence in Tanzania.
FOUR: Where do the bees come from that populate the hives?
In some parts of the world bee populations have been significantly compromised by pesticides. In Tanzania wild bees are thankfully still prominent. In most cases within days after beehives are installed about 50% are occupied.
FIVE: Do beehive fences interrupt the elephants migratory corridors?
Elephants have multi-generational migration paths. That is, elephant herds frequently follow set paths that lead to food and water. Moses carefully studied the area and left corridors for the elephants to pass by.
SIX: Are the beehives made by local labor, helping the local economy?
The entire project is locally managed and operated. From the beehive design to installation in the field, it is all done and handled by local experts.
When it’s our idea and we take ownership for a project, we feel much more responsible for the outcome, whether it be good or bad. – Margrit Harris
SEVEN: Are the farmers or someone in the local economy, trained as a beekeeper?
Currently Moses and the AFeWiS team are fully responsible for this. The farmers do receive some of the honey and proceeds.
EIGHT: Are the beehives serviced and maintained regularly?
Every month the beehives and the poles are serviced. At times a hive has been pushed over and needs to be fixed. To keep insects out of the hives the poles get painted regularly. The hives themselves need to be cleaned after honey is harvested (about every three months). The grass along the beehive fences needs to be kept short. Presently it costs about $11.50 to maintain a beehive on a monthly basis.
NINE: What exactly am I paying for when I ‘Sponsor a Beehive’?
100% of your donation is sent to Moses’ organization. Nikela does not take a percentage to fund raise or administer the funds.
On the ground in Tanzania your monies are used to pay for the:
- Lumber and supplies to construct your beehive(s)
- Transportation of the lumber to the workshop
- Carpenters and painters who build you beehive(s)
- Painter who labels each hive with your chosen name and Nikela’s
- Transportation to the field
- Installation of your beehive(s) along with others.
TEN: How do you keep donors informed on progress of the project?
Upon donating you are invited to sign up for the Champions Circle. Members get updates of every step of the process… from purchasing lumber to installation in the field. Members also get general updates from the field from Moses and farmers. We try to make it as much as if you were there as possible.
Now it’s your turn to buy a beehive and watch how your gift makes a difference for elephants and very grateful farmers.