When Esther Wanjiru came home to find her cow had been fatally attacked by bees, she vowed to exterminate the perpetrators, who were taking up residence in a nearby tree. Livestock was Esther’s primary income source, and this loss translated to about US$300.
When she relayed the story to a member of Ol Pejeta’s Community Development Team, who had been helping Esther explore ways to diversify her income, they floated the idea of combining livestock farming with beekeeping. Esther learned of the value of bees to the ecosystem - as essential pollinators of the crops and plants that her livestock and her family relied upon.
So she chose to embrace her new neighbours, and worked with Ol Pejeta’s team to install a beehive as a pilot. Learning about beekeeping and honey production as part of this initial trial, Esther found she thoroughly enjoyed this unexpected new business.
Six months later, Esther has a total of 60 hives on her three-acre farm and employs up to five people at a time to help her with harvesting, packaging, and distributing honey. “Working with the Ol Pejeta team has helped me understand the importance of bees to the environment,” she says. “It has also created an alternative livelihood for me and my fellow community members.”
As part of Ol Pejeta’s market-based conservation strategy, which aims to promote creative ways for community members to earn a living through conservation-friendly activities, we are hoping to work with Esther to show other farmers how to embrace beekeeping alongside livestock farming. As part of this, we hope to work with farmers to find ways to add value to products they already have access to, in order to increase their revenue stream. Esther, for example, is exploring ways to use wax from her bee farming.