For the last 12 months, Lilongwe Wildlife Trust has supported 96 people in Village Natural Resource Committees in the Kasungu Region to nurture nature through community bee-keeping initiatives – and there’s no better day to tell their story than today, Earth Day.
For 50 years, Earth Day has raised awareness of the importance of protecting our natural world. This year’s Earth Day is focused on climate action – vital to bee populations the world over.
Somewhere between 75 – 95% of all flowering plants on earth need help with pollination. Pollinators, such as bees, provide these services to over 180,000 different plant species. In addition to adding over $400 billion to the global economy, this means that one in every three bites of food we eat is there because of pollinators. But with higher temperatures, shifting seasons and more extreme weather events, pollinators are declining at a rate of 30% every year due to habitat loss and risk of disease from parasites that thrive in warmer temperatures.
LWT’s bee-keeping initiative started as a way of supporting local communities to diversify their food sources and bolster their income generation. The project teaches community groups about key activities such as hive hanging and inspection, apiary selection, honey harvesting and extraction, packaging and storage, as well as business management skills. The aim is to reduce reliance on natural resources in national parks and protected areas, which often results in illegal tree cutting for charcoal and poaching for bushmeat.
Laban works with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife in the region. He says:
Our bee-keeping initiative also provides awareness on environmental conservation and educates communities on the vital role bees play in the global ecosystem. The initiative started with just two groups of 15 members, which went on to train others. Lilongwe Wildlife Trust now attends bi-monthly meetings to provide technical support to all 12 groups. At Chisinga and Chilima there are now 61 hives, of which 49 are fully occupied. Meanwhile, the Katsilizika group has managed to harvest 40kg of honey. Some of the produce is distributed across the region, a process that enables participants to also share conservation messages to their wider communities.
Travel restrictions related to COVID-19 mean that our team can’t visit the groups right now, but we’re continuing to deliver support over the phone and we look forward to helping the committees increase their harvests later in the year.
Insects are the bedrock of our entire ecosystem. This Earth Day you can play your own part by cultivating native plants and wild flowers in your own home and learning more about the incredible role bee species play in protecting the health of our planet.