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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Kibet

Bee keeping; Good for you and the environment

When someone mentions bees what comes to your mind? Pain? Honey? Or both? My first encounter with a bee was unpleasant as it involved pain and death between us. I got stung on the palm of my hand and the bee died (because apparently that’s what they do after they leave a sting). Needless to say, that was the most painful I’d ever felt since I got a burn on my right arm out of carelessness. But then I was young and hadn’t known the value of bees to both humans and the environment. To me they were just tiny monsters with wings which were not supposed to exist. I hadn’t realized that the tiny “monsters” I hated so much were the same ones that gave us the honey which I loved dearly (I still do). I just assumed honey was manufactured in factories or something like that.

Bees come in so many species that we cannot identify them all. A few examples are the Honey Bee, Bumblebee, carpenter Bee, and the Leaf cutter Bee. Not every species can be found in every continent. Some species are specific to a continent meaning that a bee present in Africa will not be found in Europe. Bees prefer to live and thrive in warm climates and therefore you can never find a bee in the Antarctica since it is quite cold (not many animals can survive down there after all) . But we are going to focus on the Honey Bee because it is honey we want. The honey bee is the most common species and is, fortunately, found almost everywhere in the world.

Bees can be kept in a number of ways, both traditional and modern. Traditionally, bees would build their homes in hollows and big holes that develop in most indigenous trees. These means that they do not belong to any one person and the first ones to come across the hive get to harvest the honey for themselves. Chances for this to happen are high when there are flowers around the area. Another traditional method is where a big log is split into two and holes made inside to allow bees to make room for bees. Beeswax or honeycomb is put inside it in order to attract the bees due to its scent. This method is commonly used in most rural parts of Kenya since it is cheap and does not require a lot of manpower. During the harvest a person would wait until it was dark, strip naked and use a burning wood to smoke the bees out of the hive. Of course he would still get a sting or two but it is worth it because you will get the honey. The honey produced, however, will not be much and the method is, therefore, not suitable for commercial use.

The modern method of bee keeping is where hives are built professionally. The hives come in different shapes and sizes. One can buy them or have them made specifically to his liking. This method is suitable for commercial use since bees can be kept on a large scale. But in order for this to succeed you have to spend a considerable amount of money and, therefore, you will have to pay a lot of attention to the bees by treating them like your babies. Harvesting them would involve wearing protective clothing and chances of getting stung are very low if you wear the suit right.

Bees are among the most valuable insects to both humans and the environment. First of all, they aid in pollination. Without bees, plants would have lesser chances of germinating since the transfer of pollen grains from the male parts of a flower to the female parts will reduce. Bees play a big role in pollinating flowers while they search for nectar. Pollen grains stick to the body of the bees and as they move from flower to flower, the pollen will have successfully transferred to other flowers leading to successful germination. This helps in building habitats for other animals when the plants and trees have grown.

They are also a source of food not only to us humans, but to other animals as well. The honey produced feeds the colonies of bees during the winter season, while animals such as raccoons and bears find it a delicacy. Some birds and insects also feed on the bees and their larva.

Loss of bees would, therefore, lead to the collapse of the ecosystem since many plants would die leading to the death of animals and insects. It is important that we conserve our bees in order to avoid this.

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