Bees and honey production protect Zimbabwe’s forest

bosque de Zimbabue

In eastern Zimbabwe, a Central African country, beekeeping and organic honey production is becoming an alternative source of income. At the same time, this activity is reducing forest fires and improving forest conservation.

Honeybees are fantastic insects that bring immense benefits to the planet and our well-being, find out more about bees in: Bees and the development of new antibiotics

In our physical store in Las Rozas de Madrid or in our online store you can buy the best raw honeys from Spain and abroad, including: rosemary honey, thyme, lavender, eucalyptus, manuka …

Beekeepers in Zimbabwe
Beekeeper Benjamin Chatambura tells us that every day he visits his 250 beehives located on a small plot of his property in order to make sure that they have not had any unwanted visits at night. Any thief who has destroyed their hives or other ill-intentioned visitor. At the same time check if any of their hives are ready to be harvested and collect their raw honey.

Benjamin, a 39-year-old beekeeper, supports his family and can take his children to school thanks to the beehives and the organic honey they produce. Their children are somewhat afraid of bees, but they are delighted with what they produce, the sweet delicacy of honey.

Honey production in Zimbabwe
For most Zimbabweans living in eastern Mutasa, beekeeping for honey production was an activity of little interest until just a few years ago. The Mutasa region is about 350 kilometres from the capital, Harare, a mountainous, green region with lush vegetation.

The Enviromment Africa Project
With the arrival of the non-profit organization “Enviromment Africa”, the situation took a huge turn, encouraging locals to enter the world of beekeeping as an alternative means of earning a living while protecting their natural spaces.

This project, which is also being extended to other parts of Zimbabwe and even to other countries in Africa, is financed with funds from the European Union and managed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

According to Lawrence Nyagwande, coordinator of “Enviromment Africa” in Zimbabwe’s Manicaland province: “This project is bringing enormous improvements in the lives of all community members, and not only that, it has improved forest conservation. He also added: “Deforestation was reaching appalling levels, something that happened every day.

Bees reduce forest fires
In previous years, the timber business was the main source of income for the economy of this region and with a rate of uncontrolled deforestation that was calling for the end of this industry due to the depletion of timber resources. The rate of deforestation was faster than the rate of growth of new forests. Now, thanks to beekeeping and organic honey production, new business opportunities are being created. In economic terms, the honey industry is being equated with the wood industry, which is also helping the latter recover and even ensuring its survival.

As Nyagwande adds: “It used to be difficult to stop the overexploitation of forest resources without giving the locals an alternative. Most of them burned grasses and stubble in order to facilitate hunting or felling trees for later use as firewood.

Ecological honey to reduce fires

Violet Makotto, spokesperson for the Zimbabwean government’s Forestry Commission, explained in an interview with Deutsch Welle in the German media that the beekeeping and organic honey production project was dramatically reducing forest fires and deforestation. He also said his government wants beekeeping and organic honey production to take hold in the regions to the point where local people stop setting fires and deforestation is sustainable.

According to official figures, Zimbabwe has been losing an average of 1.5 million hectares of forest each year until 2015. During these years the government has applied heavy fines for arson and logging, but these heavy fines were not sufficient deterrents to stop the locals from these activities, since they were always looking for ways to skip them.

Change in local customs
Beekeeper Chatambuza confesses that “he also belonged to the group of those who used to cut down trees and then replant them for us”. However, with this new organic honey production project, things have changed radically. He also said: “I don’t want the trees in the forest to be cut down or burned now. The trees don’t interest me too much, but they provide me with flowers and food for my bee hives from which they make raw honey. Raw honey production is my livelihood to support myself and my family.

Chatambura never had a steady job before becoming a beekeeper. A normal situation in countries with unemployment rates of 85% according to estimates from reliable sources.

Since Chatambura has been involved in beekeeping and selling its organic raw honey, everything has started to get better. His family and he never lack food, and they have even been able to save and he has bought a motorcycle.

Photo 1: Garden and its flowers

The sale of organic raw honey is profitable
According to Paddington Nemeunga, the president of the Beekeepers’ Association in the Mutasa district, they have already achieved more than 1,100 beekeepers and a member of this organization in just three years. On average, each beekeeper has about 250 bee hives.

In addition, the “Enviromment Africa” project trains and equips beekeepers, who achieve up to three and four harvests of raw honey a year. As Nemaunga adds: “Beekeepers can earn almost 900 euros a month by selling their honey. If we compare it with a Zimbabwean civil servant who usually earns around 450 euros a month, that’s not bad.

Expanding the project:
The “Enviromment Africa” project is not fully developed, as the organisation wants to extend it to more parts of Zimbabwe. They also want to take all this further and improve the project. Currently, beekeepers do not sell their raw honey directly to the final consumer, but sell it to wholesalers in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, for about 2 euros per kilogram. Once in the hands of the wholesalers, the raw honey is processed and sold to shops all over the country for prices that can be multiplied by up to five. What the organisation is thinking of is that beekeepers take over the whole chain, from production to sale to the final consumer. In this way they would significantly increase their income.

In addition, according to Barnabas Mawire, head of Zimbabwe’s Envirommen Africa, this project covers much more: “We are at the same time reforesting the forests by planting more trees, thus increasing the space for beekeeping and enabling beekeepers to increase their production of raw honey.

Our opinion:
All these projects are a brilliant idea where society as a whole benefits. We are protecting our planet, lifting the people of Africa out of poverty and enhancing the environmental and political stability of these countries.

Finally, I hope that we in our shop in Las Rozas in Madrid will one day be able to include this quality organic raw honeys in our shop. May we be able to try them and make them known throughout Europe.


Medio de información alemán. Deutsch Welle. Sobre cómo las abejas protegen el bosque de Zimbabue. 27 de junio del 2017.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

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