Using resources, generating income: The Kilimanjaro honey
by Oliver Zantow
Our “honey project” in cooperation with the beekeeper Eckhard Ranft from Kellinghusen has started very successfully and is supposed to be extended. Our Tanzanian friends suggested the project some time ago and during the project the Tanzanians showed great interest. It can lead to a fundamental difference in the production of honey. The initiative is financed by the Bingo!-lottery.
I would like to say a few words on the background first: the beekeeper Eckhard Ranft was in Mrimbo/Tanzania from the 26th of September to the fourth of October 2014 and performed a workshop with Tanzanian beekeepers.
It took place in the building of the KIUMAKO Secondary School which we would like to use for beekeeping workshops on a regular basis. This requires hardly any further investments and leads to a better capacity of the building as well as a great acceptance of the school in the rural population.
We purchased the needed material that had been applied for in Germany as they were not available anywhere in Tanzania. The material is primarily a honey separator as well as a wooden hive which we can use as a sample to recreate it locally. This means that a local carpenter will be part of the further arrangement of the project, for example via the vocational centre KIUMO.
Fortunately it was possible to send the purchased material without any further costs in a container to Tanzania as originally planned. The fire brigade of Hamburg that cooperates with an organization in Dar Es Salaam helped us organizing the container shipments.
The organization and preparation of the workshop was set in place by our co-workers in Tanzania as well as our wektwärts-volunteers. The implementation was accompanied by the previously unknown Tanzanian beekeeper Thomas Shao.
First of all Eckhard Ranft got an idea of the situation in the Kilimanjaro region. He noticed that two local kinds of bees came into question for beekeeping. A small one that doesn't sting but that also doesn’t really yield a good return. However that bee is often kept in natural hives on local properties due to its harmlessness. To win the honey the hive is opened and the honeycomb is cut out and pressed. Like this, a sweet juice is created which doesn’t have much in common with honey as we know it. Apart from that the population is destroyed.
He noticed a similar working method with more dangerous and more blood-hungry bees. Some beekeepers keep natural hives on their fields. The bees are being fumigated prior to the harvest and are destroyed as well.
Eckard Raft accompanied all of these processes on-site. He found during converstions (an interpreter was always with him) that the people in Tanzania know hardly anything about bees. There was no knowledge about queens, workers etc. Eckard Raft performed workshops that didn’t have any moralizing character – it wasn’t less interesting for him to learn from local people.
The successful final of the activities was a harvest of a colony. A part of the colony was successfolly saved and domiciled in the wooden hive that had been brought along. Now the first bee colony stands on the property of the KIUMAKO and the harvest can be made by removing the frames and extracting the honey.
Apart from that the colony can be separated so that the stock can grow. The technique of beekeeping is easy to learn, the only thing that is missing in Tanzania is the needed material.
The local beekeepers now know the basic techniques and are allowed to use the separator for free. The project has started successfully.
Now Eckhard Ranft wants to pile the fire up and create a beekeeping school at the KIUMAKO. He’s even willing to work free of charge again. Like this the production of honey in the Kilimanjaro region could be professionalized successfully and there would be interesting income sources for famers. Both hotels and tourists of the region are interested in it.
And the sticking, but with appropriate equipment also controllable, honey bee can lead to appreciable earnings.