With human populations expanding villages start bordering many protected areas. When elephants find tasty farm crops… they enjoy. When farmers find elephants in their farm crops… they get mad and retaliate. During such conflicts elephants and humans can get injured or killed. And of course, farm crops are destroyed and families go hungry.
Nikela has funded three separate phases of constructing and building beehive fences. Moses and his team at AFeWiS are figuring out the very best process. They’re learning what works… for the elephants, the farmers and the bees.
How to construct the right beehives to keep elephants out of farm crops.
Moses explains the process from building beehives to installing them in the field. (All photos from Moses’ team)
The beehive design that appears to work best is called “langstroth”. Its modern layout enables the farmer to harvest more honey than any other types of beehives in Tanzania. These professional beehives are made in such a way that very little cold or rain can get in. All outside edges are tight and there is only one opening for the bees to pass in and out.
The timbers used for this project are cut in the forest. After drying for three to four days they are taken to the workshop. The boxes and the cross rails, where the bees start to build their own wax, are then constructed. (It’s like building them a house with rooms with beds. A home where they can produce wax, eggs, babies, and honey).
These beehives are designed by a professional who is close to the AFeWiS team. He attended a training institute known as Miyombo Honey Production. This institute trains people across Tanzania in the art of bee keeping. During his two month training he also learned this particular method of constructing beehives.
In the photos those dressed in dark green t-shirts labeled AFeWiS are all part of Moses’ team. The others are helpers and farmers.
One of the big challenges they faced during Phase 3 was the rain. Installation had to be delayed almost two weeks as the roads were too wet and muddy.
Moses also talks of bees being a bit of a problem!
A few things happened during the process, especially at the workshop were the beehives were constructed. Before painting the beehives white they had some unexpected visitors. Bees! Without notice they entered some of the beehives. Four or five times someone got a “surprise bite”. When this happens local leaves are used as medicine to extract the bee poison from the bite area.
Then there was the giraffe.
He was so friendly! As the farm crops border the National Park seeing wildlife is common. Many times they see giraffe feed nearby, especially in the early evening. On this occasion one giraffe seemed very interested in what was going on.
Beehives are hung up on poles.
At first Moses spaced the beehives several meters apart along the farm crop boundary. However, some elephants still passed by. Starting with Phase Two the beehives were spaced one meter apart. This has proven to be a good distance.
Currently three farmers’ crops are protected by beehive fences. Two more are hoping to get theirs soon. As soon as we get sufficient donations to fund them.
Ready to sponsor a beehive?
You’ll also get your name, or the name of a loved one on it if you like.
Where once, just a few months ago, fifty elephants threatened farm crops only a handful have reportedly been seen by the farmers.
Where once, farmers lived in fear of elephants destroying their crops, their family’s food, they now not only have healthy vegetables, they also look forward to harvesting honey.
Where once, elephants and humans were injured or killed, now all live in peace on these farms.
No wonder there are already two more farmers requesting beehive fences.
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