In the Face of Droughts, Zimbabwe Farmers Turn to Bees.

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In the Face of Droughts, Zimbabwe Farmers Turn to Bees.

Due to historic droughts in Zimbabwe, former farmers are turning to bee cultivation in order to provide a stable income for themselves and their families.

In the Face of Droughts, Zimbabwe Farmers Turn to Bees. Source: T20
In the Face of Droughts, Zimbabwe Farmers Turn to Bees. Source: T20

Climate change is affecting us all across the globe in dramatic ways. From temperature increases causing heat deaths in Britain to oil pollution along the Texan coast everywhere, everyone has been marked by the impact of climate change. However, nowhere is the presence of climate change more felt than in the countries and places which are least responsible for the cause of it. Zimbabwe is one of those places, and Zimbabweans are bearing the brunt of the damage felt due to the negligence and outright criminality of the corporations who have caused this destruction. 70% of Zimbabweans rely on agriculture to feed themselves and their families, and unfortunately due to climate change droughts are becoming more and more of a problem putting their lives and livelihoods at risk. Non-human animals are bearing the cost as well, bees have been tragically dying off in places where they used to thrive. Since 1980, bees in Britain have lost a quarter of the spaces that they used to inhabit freely. However not all is lost, in Zimbabwe, former farmers are becoming apiarists working with bees in order to create a new revenue stream safe from droughts, and bringing new life to a land that has seen so much tragedy in its history.

 

Honey is a known commodity with many uses in medicinal practices, cosmetics, and culinary settings. The nectar of the honey bee has been long used and is continually rising in demand. This presents a sweet opportunity for apiarists in Zimbabwe who utilize traditional and new modern methods of beekeeping. The old methods however are being phased out in favor of new ways of tending to bees, as the old way requires using smoke to flush out the bees killing large numbers of them in the process. Developments using bee suits and modern bee smokers are showing that they not only keep the apiarists safe but the bees as well. Tending to bees is economically viable in many ways, not just in the high profit from selling honey. Where crop farmers need to continually buy new fertilizers, seeds, and agrochemicals every month beekeepers can keep using the same hives over and over again. On the topic of agrochemicals, they are required significantly in Zimbabwe in order to sustain crop yield in the modern age of chemical farming. These chemicals are not safe, especially not for the bees who often die in traditional hives due to the spraying of these chemicals. New developments have been made though, the MacJohnson Hive is a new type of beehive developed in Zimbabwe that has a protective screen that allows the bees to breathe and saves them and their honey from being contaminated by these agrochemicals.

 

With significant gains being made by apiarists in Zimbabwe as a result of honey production, it is encouraging to see that alternative solutions to the destruction of livelihoods are well underway. NGOs are stepping in to help as well, as many are working with local beekeepers to help market and process their honey for markets locally and abroad. As the devastating droughts continue to worsen in Zimbabwe, what is being proved is that the future is with the bees.

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