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    Honey farmer use iron sheet guards to keep off thieving badgers


    One Kitui County farmer has kept honey badgers away from his hives using or­din­ary iron sheet guards nailed around the trees host­ing the bees.

    Mutemi Nguli flat­tens the or­din­ary roof­ing irons sheets and nails them on the stems of the trees hav­ing the log. The sheets have to be fixed about three to four metres above the ground and away from branches.

    Ac­cord­ing to his son Fes­tus, the badgers are a men­ace that even dogs can­not chase away be­cause of their strength and strong re­pelling odour. But the iron sheets have worked well in pre­vent­ing the pests from reach­ing the hives.

    The smooth sheet is about three feet long , but is must go round the stem so as to leave no space for the badger to hold, Fes­tus said.

    “Killing the pests was not solv­ing the prob­lem be­cause they are many in this vast semi arid forest. It is easy to keep them off with the iron sheets be­cause it is smooth and if the stem is covered all round, the badger can­not have some­where to hold and move up­wards given that the bark is hid­den,” Fes­tus said.

    The badger gives up after sev­eral failed at­tempts to go past the iron sheets.

    Fes­tus, a bach­elor of sci­ence in ag­ri­cul­tural eco­nom­ics stu­dent at Laikipia Uni­versity, says the badger is one of the most de­struct­ive bee pest feed­ing on honey and the lar­vae. 

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    This ro­dent is lis­ted as the least fear­ful an­imal in the Guin­ness book of re­cords. It can at­tack even a lion by scratch­ing the eyes with its sharp claws. Its skin is thick and tough to an ex­tent that a ma­chete, arrow or spear not eas­ily pierce it. 

    Stings from bees can­not chase it away. At the same time, it re­leases a “very strong” odour that scares its en­emies. When it re­leases the odour, the bees move away from the honey combs, Fes­tus said.

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     The pred­ator can grow up to two and a half feet in length and at­tain 11 kg.

    Mutemi has 80 bee hives logs. He is adding more into the aca­cia and baobab trees around his homestead.

    “Main­ten­ance is min­imal be­cause the hives are left in the forest until har­vest­ing. In­spec­tion is done once in a while. I have more time to do other farm­ing er­rands as the bees work to fill the honey combs on their own. I only en­sure they are free from pred­at­ors,” the farmer said.

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    Mutemi har­vests about eight kilos twice a year from the one and half metre long logs. 

    Loc­ally, he sells one litre of honey at Sh350, which earns Sh2,800 per sea­son. Large scale mar­ket re­mains the main chal­lenge to him.

    Fes­tus said they bor­rowed the idea from the metal guards placed around maize granar­ies to keep off rats and other ro­dents.

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