Costly dogs make way for bees in Mutasa

MUTASA - Bees are fast replacing dogs as man’s best friend here.

Dogs, which are expensive to feed, are fast becoming costly to maintain for people in Domborutinhira, 60 km north-west of Mutare.

Dogs were used to hunt for food and to maintain security at home.

Bees are no longer just a swarm to flee from. They are bringing a rich buzz to this market gardening community — east of Zimbabwe.

Alison Samandere looks content and relaxed as he hammers the last nail into a bee hive he is putting finishing touches to.

Unable to make enough money from farming, he is hoping to make as many bee hives as possible.

“There is money to be made here,” he says.

Samandere is one of the pioneers of a business concept that is spreading fast here.

He started the bee-keeping project in April 2012 and has never looked back. Instead, he is helping fellow residents still finding their feet in the trade.

Having started as a small- scale honey producer, Samandere has roped in 59 other villagers in the project.
It is no longer business as usual.

The team has gone further and is hiring out their bee hives to commercial fruit farmers, particularly apple producers from Nyanga.

“The apple producers want bees for the pollination of their flowers and for maximum and quality fruit production,” he tells the Daily News on Sunday.

Farmers pay $1,50 for a hive per day and this runs for 21 days during which pollination would be taking place.

“It depends on the number of hives a person has, otherwise this is a lucrative business where the bees work twice for you,” says Samandere.

“I want to have as many hives as possible as this business is quite rewarding.”

He says the villagers bring together their hives each time the apple producers want to hire their hives at flowering stagea.

Samandere says after the pollination period, farmers return the hives, bees and the honey.

“The farmers are not supposed to take the honey but to just let the bees pollinate their apple trees,” he explains.

“Everything is different,” he says with a shy smile clad in a grey golf T-shirt and a pair of blue denim jeans.

His homestead is situated below a hillside near a stream with a flourishing orchard a few metres from the modest home.

“I have managed to improve my social well being in a very short space of time. I can buy seed for my plot, and have no hassles raising school fees for my children like in the past.

“What more would one want?” he asks, almost in rhetoric.

And the benefits are not just going into their pockets.

The villagers say they are thankful to Environment Africa (EA), which has assisted the community in realising their goal — self sustenance.

The environmental watchdog has provided teaching workshops to the villagers on ways of living in harmony with their surroundings as well as reaping fruits of such a co-existence without harming nature.

Another villager, Susan Sanyamandwe, says she has a better appreciation of the environment following her interaction with EA.

“Before the coming in of Environment Africa, I did not understand the concept of preserving our environment the way I do now,” Sanyamandwe tells the Daily News on Sunday.

“We are reaping the fruits of conserving nature.”

“People will not understand what you mean when you bar them from cutting trees when there is no alternative and immediate benefit to the call.

“For our community, such a call is well understood and appreciated. We have seen the rewards of keeping our environment tight.

“We co-exist and benefit from the environment,” says Sanyamandwe, a widow and mother of six who says she has managed to finish her four-bedroomed structure from the proceeds of her newly- found business venture.

Barnabas Mawire, EA country director, says environmental educations need to be upped in rural areas for conservation efforts to bear fruit.

“The campaign to preserve and conserve our environment will only succeed if we let communities see the benefits of such campaigns.

“If the community gets something from their surroundings the workload for environment watchdogs would be lessened to the greatest extent,” says Mawire.

Mawire says bee keepers who have good and densely forested areas with a variety of plant species can harvest honey three times a year compared to sparsely forested ones where honey can be harvested once or twice yearly.

The use of bees in pollination is believed to increase crop yield and quality by at least 50 percent. - Sydney Saize

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