July 25, 2016
BENEFITING: Maasai Wilderness Conservation
EVENT DATE: May 15, 2016
MWCT (Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust) is a non-profit organization in Kenya, working with Maasai communities in conservation and sustainable development projects. One project that MWCT has recently supported is to provide beehives to the Maasai people in hopes it will become a sustainable economic opportunity for them. Using the honey and wax harvested from the hives, the Maasai can create a method of agriculture that has an immensely positive impact on the local lands. However, in order to achieve this goal, the MWCT needs help from an experienced beekeeper, and access to beekeeping tools, equipment, and knowledge required to properly manage their hives. This is where I come in.
I have purchased tickets to come back out to the remote village of Iltalal in July, and it’s my goal to raise money for the MWCT to purchase beekeeping tools and equipment for Wilbur and the Maasai. This is where YOU come in.
In 2011, I went on a journey to a remote Maasai village in Kenya called Iltalal (ill -tall -al) where I offered to help out, any way I could. Skilled only in the art of waving a brush, I was assigned the duty of painting the local primary school that the MWCT had setup for the Maasai community in the village.
While painting, I noted several beehives that were placed up against the side of the school. When I asked why potentially dangerous beehives were placed so close to the school, I was told that they were placed there to deter the more aggressive wasps from building homes in the roof. That made sense to me, and at the time I knew nothing about bees and just kept my distance.
When the time finally came to paint the side of the school that had the beehives, I requested they be moved before I started painting around them. I had zero experience with bees and the only thing I knew about bees in Africa were that they were mean and not to be messed with.
Two brave individuals volunteered to move the hives out of the way so I could continue my work. One of the volunteers was a Maasai warrior that had been acting as security for me while I painted. The other individual was a "Fundi", which is a Kenyan handyman, by the name of Mutuku Mutua, or “Wilbur” as I knew him. Wilbur had some experience with bees and thought he could help out, seeing that i was uncomfortable around the hives.
These two gentlemen grabbed the ends of the struts that were holding the beehives up, only to have the legs fall out from one side. The sudden jarring of the falling legs caused a few upset bees to sting Wilbur as he held the hives with no legs to support them. Suddenly, both hives came crashing down as the supports fell apart.
At this point I ran as hard as my legs would possibly take me, and tried to create as much distance between myself and the growing swarm of angry bees.
Once I thought I was far enough away, I looked back to see a lone Maasai warrior standing in a cloud of bees with nothing but his bright red cloak wrapped around his face to protect him.
After a while, the swarm subsided I approached the warrior as he was sitting cross-legged and pulling stingers out, one at a time. "Are you okay?" I asked. Not knowing what I was saying, but understanding the intent, he responded with a toothy smile and thumbs up. The warrior was covered in stings from head to toe, and his job for the next hour was to simply pull them out before the venom started to creep into his veins.
This experience had a profound effect on me, and I became fascinated with these creatures I was so fearful of. When I returned back to Seattle I started looking into what it takes to be a beekeeper, and what you can do with a hive, if properly managed.
As I learned more and more about bees, my fascination grew to the point where I started my very own Hive Adoption company, called Bee Maven, and soon found myself a trustee on the board of the PSBA (Puget Sound Beekeepers Association), helping new beekeepers go through the same process I did to learn this ancient profession.
Recently, I have been in touch with my friend Wilbur, and things have been going great for him in Iltalal. Through generous donations, the MWCT has given the local Maasai people 25 beehives that they can use as a means of sustainable economic development. The bees from these hives forage through the lush Chyulu Hills, creating some of the most delicious honey in the land.
Bring educational materials and lesson plans for the following beekeeping topics:
- Treating for Varroa Mites
- Creating new/additional pollinator habitat
- Sustainable Beekeeping
- Wax Processing
- Honey Extraction
- Wax Moths
- Creating your own foundation
- Creating a solar wax melter
Bring Needed Beekeeping Supplies:
- Hive Tools
- Hive Brushes
- Rubber Bootss
- Duct Tape
- Bee Suits
- Oxalic Acid Vaporizer
- Oxalic Acid
- Uncapping Knife
- Uncapping scratcher
- Wax Melting Pot
- Digital Scale
- Essential Oils
- Coconut Oil
- Shea Butter
- Hive Monitors
- Honey Extractor
- Magnifying Glass
- Silicon Wax Mold
- Food Grade Buckets
- 5 Gallon Bucket Strainers
- Silicon foundation mold