The secret life of beekeepers

With soaring summer temperatures and unreliable rainfall in Eastern Zimbabwe making it difficult to harvest anything from the fields, Fabion Chadambuka has been forced to think outside of the box.

Fabion Chadambuka, a traditional beekeeper for 20 years.
Fabion Chadambuka, a traditional beekeeper for 20 years.

Sitting beneath a huge mango tree outside his home in Chief Zimunya’s area of Mutare South, Chadambuka has spent the morning setting up traditional beehives in the forest. He hopes to earn some money from the production of honey.

“The chances of us here harvesting anything in the fields this season are fading every day. I would rather concentrate on bee keeping because I know I will at least harvest some honey in three months time,” he said.

Chadambuka has worked as a traditional beehive maker and beekeeper for the past 20 years. He has more than 300 beehives strategically positioned in the bush which he made using traditional techniques and equipment such as tree bark.

“Beekeeping and beehive making started as hobby for me, but this project sustained my family throughout the economic crisis in the country. Proceeds from beekeeping and beehive making helped me to pay the school fees for my children and buy necessities such as soap and cooking oil.”Chadambuka is widely consulted by people wanting to establish similar projects. He sells a traditional beehive for $10, while a 10 litre tin of honey goes for $20. He also sells some of the honey to the Intermediate Technology Development at Bumba centre in Chimanimani.

The centre buys honey from beekeepers at a guaranteed price, which they then resell to local and foreign buyers. The centre also offers training in beekeeping and harvesting techniques. Chadambuka does not use any protective clothes when harvesting honey. “Bees are very friendly and fascinating. I have cultivated a relationship with them. I can harvest honey any time with no problems. Normally I mount my beehives very close to the ground,” he said.

Chadambuka said that during the height of the political violence after the 2008 harmonised elections, people fleeing from political violence survived on honey from his hives in the forest.

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *