|Native African honeybees|
Cheetah Conservation Fund realises that if we want to save cheetahs, we have to care about the whole planet. That’s why we are inspired to operate our Centre as sustainably as possible. The World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainability as “to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Here at CCF, we understand that this means carefully managing natural resources with a deep respect for the natural world.
|Staff gardener Petrus Johannes, volunteer Jenna Brager, and Chief Ecologist Matti Nghikembua install the first beehive in CCF's new apiary|
|Directorate of Forestry officers bring training and supplies to CCF|
The Directorate of Forestry here in Namibia has a programme to help farmers set up beehives. We collaborated with local Forestry officers to begin CCF’s apiary. Forestry officers visited CCF to give beginning bee-keeping training, helped us acquire equipment, and brought us a live feral colony of bees! A nearby farmer had an unwanted wild hive living in a tyre in his garage. Forestry officers delivered the bees in the tyre to CCF at night. Because these bees were too established to be moved out of their tire home without causing immense damage, we’ve retrofitted the tyre for better bee health and they will remain an unmanaged feral hive. CCF plans to catch swarms of bees from this feral colony during the flower blooming season to establish additional colonies and grow the apiary.
|CCF's first honeybees arrive as a feral colony in a tyre|
|Paul Visser (above right), CCF's farms manager, built in a nice bottom board, entrance, inner cover, and outer cover to improve the tire as a home|
|Bee swarm at CCF|
|Aspiring bee-keepers about to do their first swarm capture|
|Capturing the swarm|
|Preparing to install the swarm at the apiary|
Amazingly, shortly after this first swarm departed another swarm arrived and we didn’t even have to capture them. They chose to fly into the empty hive boxes we have set up in the apiary and make a new home. These bees are doing a great job of getting established and seem happy to stay.
|Bee-keeping protective gear and tools|
|Three full hive set-ups|
The photos above show the gear and tools bought by funds from generous donors – protective suits, veils, gloves, boots, bee brushes, hive tools, and a smoker. With matching funds from the Namibian Directorate of Forestry, we were able to double this amount of protective gear and now have total of four full suits. Also shown above, generous donations have allowed us to acquire enough equipment to set up three large colonies of bees, including boxes with frames, bottom boards, inner covers, and outer covers.
We’ve heard a lot about African honeybees being very aggressive so everyone was a bit concerned. What will be the personality of our bees? Lucky for us, these bees have been extremely friendly. Another concern is honeybee predators – mainly honey badgers and baboons, both of which can be aggressive at times. This is why we chose an area that is completely fenced in from floor to ceiling and put the hive on a bench several feet off the ground.
CCF intends to build up the apiary to teach more aspects of sustainability to visitors and local farmers, and to produce honey for food and added income.
As we expand on the Centre’s sustainability, it important to remember that everything is connected. In addition to growing our apiary, we are expanding our organic vegetable garden, cultivating fruit trees, diligently recycling, and looking into rainwater harvesting and grey water reuse. These small acts have big impacts on the cheetah – local food production and diversified income streams help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect the climate, save water for the wildlife, and restore cheetah habitat. We hope you’ll join us in reducing our ecological footprints.