Answer: Yes! Definitely yes, but there is room for improvement. I am so excited to let you know we had our biggest honey harvest ever! After everything was cleaned and packaged, we had 50 kilograms of high value honey ready to sell in Dar es Salaam—this is a 30% increase from our previous harvest, which was our largest harvest until now. Hopefully this means we will keep breaking our record and producing more top quality honey!
So as I said, there is room for improvement. This is because although we had our biggest harvest yet (yay again!), we were only able to harvest 40% of our hives. Theoretically, our harvest should have been more than double what we got. As you may recall, we currently have 15 beehives. Of those 15 hives, 13 are occupied (though we have every reason to believe the 2 empty ones will have bees any time now). Two of these 13 hives gained occupants in the last couple of months, so those hives were not strong enough to harvest honey. Additionally, one of our hives fell down at the beginning of December due to an uncharacteristically heavy rainstorm. This means that of our 15 hives, 10 were viable for harvesting. By the time we harvested, 4 of those hives were empty because the bees had already eaten the honey. This means we harvested honey from just 6 hives.
While this is unfortunate, it is also a good learning opportunity. Honey is very delicate, and it is hard to know the absolute best time to harvest. If you harvest too early, the honey is not nearly as good because it did not cure long enough in the hive. If you wait too long, the bees eat the honey and you are left with nothing. To help combat this issue, I am working with Mzee Melenge and Kidura to create a hive monitoring and evaluation strategy. Kidura has gone to special beekeeping training and knows the best time to harvest, and Mzee Melenge is the group Bwana Nyuki, or person in charge of beekeeping activities. This plan is essentially going to be a written record of when someone goes to check the hive, if there is honey, if the honey is ready, how much was harvested, things of that nature. This tool will be useful to identify the best time to harvest, but also monitor hive trends over time. With this in place, we are sure to continue increasing production.
Do you know what would also increase production? Adding more hives…