Honey production derailed by drought at Khwe beekeeping project

18 Feb 2014 14:10pm
OMEGA THREE, 18 FEB (NAMPA) - The drought experienced in most parts of the country last year has derailed a small-scale beekeeping project run by the Khwe community in western Zambezi as the bees migrated to other areas in search of food.
Before the drought, honey was harvested three to four times per year at the project and was in demand amongst local communities and tourists.
The beekeeping project, which is situated at Omega Three in the Bwabwata National Park, was started in 2005 as an income generating activity for the minority community living in the national park.
The project, known as ‘Dao bere o tci pa’ which means ‘bushmen honey’, has since its inception seven years ago modernised its method of harvesting honey by making use of a hand extractor, which is a mechanical device. This is compared to traditional methods of collecting honey from trees which would, amongst other things, endanger bee colonies.
Project owner David Mushavanga told Nampa during a visit to the project on Friday that no harvesting could take place last year because the bees migrated to wetter areas such as rivers and wetlands in search of plants bearing nectar.
Before the drought, the project used six big boxes, but three have been emptied as all the bees had migrated.
The young entrepreneur said they now struggle with transport, which they need to collect bees from the bush in other areas. Another way in which they hope to attract bees and boost honey production this season is by planting more flowering plants.
The project has employed five people who assist in harvesting, processing and bottling the honey.
The honey was previously processed and bottled in 500 millilitre bottles which are sold to local communities and tourists at a cost of N.dollars 40. Mushavanga said they however face another challenge, that of a lack of a market for the honey.
The small-scale farmer regards the beekeeping project as a cash crop and no longer a product for home consumption, and encouraged locals to buy their honey as it has a number of health benefits.