Meru County farmers living close to forest areas have adopted bee-keeping as a way of keeping stray elephants at bay in addition to the benefits accrued from the lucrative apiculture activity.
Ms. Tina Mwirigi, a bee-keeping expert who lives close to the lower Imenti forest says that they decided to adopt this method as a way of preventing the elephants from destroying their farms and at the same time reaping from the business of bee-keeping.
“We came to learn that elephants do not get close to beehives and that is how we started encouraging our people to keep beehives in the areas where they border with the forest so they can prevent them from destroying their farms,” she said.
She added that apart from keeping the elephants at bay, bees also help them in the pollination of crops on their farms hence resulting in quality produce.
Their efforts were recognized by Governor Kiraitu Murungi, who yesterday distributed beehives and other bee-keeping equipment worth Sh3million to at least 1,000 farmers who are also members of Community Forest Associations in the Lower Imenti Forest.
The beehives will be used to make a 5-Kilometre bee fence to keep elephants from destroying farms and property.
Governor Kiraitu said, the human-wildlife conflict has been a big problem in the area, which sometimes leads to permanent injuries and death of the residents, and his government was doing everything possible to address the situation, including liaising with the Kenya Wildlife Service for compensation to those affected.
“Today’s exercise is one of the measures we are putting in place to end the menace. We will employ many more to ensure our people are safe and free to do their work without fear of attacks by the wild animals,” he said.
Kiraitu said that his government will also help the farmers to come up with a honey factory once they start harvesting enough of it.
He said the project was viable to every person in the area including the elderly considering that the main task was to set up the beehive and leave the bees to make honey.
“We will allocate more money in the next financial year to ensure we have acquired more beehives which will ring-fence the entire forest,” said Kiraitu.
By Dickson Mwiti