Beekeeping was one of the Trust’s first community projects, started back in 2009. We were operating with a group of 74 women from the Mpuaai region but in January 2018 another women group from Motorogi have shown interest to join Maa Honey due to difficulties in managing their own hives. We are pleased to have now increased to 105 women. We have recently been refurbishing the hives and relocating them inside Olare Motorogi Conservancy at rangers posts and The Maa Trust’s headquarters. These locations provide the hives with security, and easy access to water and pollen for the bees.In March, two members of Maa Honey’s team, Abigael Simaloi and Ntimama Maatany, attended an intensive one-day training on the apiary management, bee products, honey harvesting, handling and honey markets with Maasai Beekeeping Initiative in Narok with the aim of improving our honey production.
To date, Maa Honey has faced two nemeses: baboons and honey badgers. Beehive frames that work well in other areas, are not applicable in our area. We have reviewed different options and integrated all the ideas and come up with a new closed and high frame structures which will protect our hives from any attacks. Our new structures are made up of about three meters long poles, a box structure made of wire mesh and can hold a total of eight beehives. Two of these frames are already in the field and within only two weeks, the bees had colonized their new homes. The hives are located along a stream that will help the bees to have water. Other frames will be spread across the conservancies at ranger stations. We are hoping to have our first harvest this year around June-July.
Many women’s groups would like to invest in beehives and Maa Honey cannot keep up with demand for our beautiful pure Mara honey. We would like to expand this programme through a partnership between supporters and women’s groups. Through this initiative the $100 cost of a beehive will be divided 50:50 with a women’s group to help them get started with their new investment. This support will mean that the women’s group would receive their 50% of the sales from their hive in full, and the other half will be used to cover the running costs of Maa Honey.
Women earning an income through Maa Honey is not only economically empowering, it is also often the first income that women have received from a conservation compatible livelihood. By seeing direct economic benefits from honey created in conservancies thanks to pollen from the plentiful trees and plants, this encourages women not to fell trees for firewood.
The Maa Trust also supports women to transform their income into items that will reduce both their daily chores and their environmental impact through the sustainable spending programme. This is achieved by switching from firewood to cooking gas, from walking to collect water to collecting rainwater, switching from kerosene to solar power and sending their children to school.