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Lolldaiga Hills Research Programme

Lolldaiga Hills Research Programme

The Lolldaiga Hills Research Programme (LHRP) was initiated on 1st August 2013. The goal of the LHRP is to maintain....

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Biodiversity

Biodiversity

Although additional surveys have yet to be undertaken, there can be no doubt that the Ranch supports well over half of the species of plants and animals present in Laikipia County.

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The Lolldaiga Hills Research Programme Newsletter is produced bi-monthly. Visit the Newsletter page to download earlier issues.

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Lolldaiga Hills

About Lolldaiga Hills

Lolldaiga Hills Ranch is a 200 km2 (49,000 acre) cattle ranch and wildlife conservancy. Located 20 km north west of Mount Kenya at an altitude of 1,800 – 2,300 m, the Ranch has outstanding views of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares.

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Lolldaiga Hills Conservation Landscape

About the Lolldaiga Hills Conservation Landscape

The Lolldaiga Hills Conservation Landscape (LHCL) is comprised of four properties; Lolldaiga (ca. 200 km²), Ole Naishu (ca. 125 km²), Enasoit (ca. 17 km²), and Ol Jogi (ca. 210 km²)...

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  • Bee-keeping and Honey Production Programme on Lolldaiga Hills Ranch: A tribute to David Njuguna

Bee-keeping and Honey Production Programme on Lolldaiga Hills Ranch: A tribute to David Njuguna

By Harry Wells, lolldaiga Hills Ranch

The Bee-keeping and Honey Production Programme on Lolldaiga Hills Ranch was led by David Njuguna, who over-saw hive construction and management, honey harvesting, and honey processing. Sadly, at the end of August 2017, David lost his life in a vehicle accident. Now, Benson Ngatia (from the neighbouring Makurian Group Ranch) and Moses Lodeiya (who is also a member of the ranch’s security team), both of whom worked under David’s guidance, co-manage the bee-keeping operation—continuing David’s legacy.

Log hives being built and repaired at the base of Ngainitu Hill, Lolldaiga Hills Ranch. Photographs by Paul Benson.

David also assisted communities neighbouring Lolldaiga Hills Ranch, particularly on Makurian Group Ranch and in the Kimugandura area. This included building capacity in bee husbandry, hive management, honey processing, disseminating of information on best bee-keeping practices, pest control, access to markets, and importance of certain plant species for honey production.

Common honeybee Apis mellifera scutellata. Photograph by Paul Benson.

David Njuguna (right) inspecting a hive in Laikipia County for Bees Abroad. Photo from Bees Abroad (http://beesabroad.org.uk/).

Currently, there are 272 hives on the Ranch: 53 Langstroth hives, 10 box hives, and 209 log hives. In addition, there are 50 catcher boxes. The log hives are carved from the trunks of dead Pencil Cedar Juniperus procera. Many of these hives now hang along the Sinyai Lugga in Yellow Fever Trees Acacia xanthophloea in order to mitigate Elephant Loxodonta africana damage. In recent decades, the woodland along this seasonal river has been severely damaged by Elephants. Bees can be effective in preventing Elephant damage to vegetation (Vollrath & Douglas-Hamilton 2002).

Box hives hung on Savannah Thorn Trees Acacia etbaica, North Gate, Lolldaiga Hills Ranch. Photograph by Paul. Benson.

David was a member of the Executive Committee of the Apiculture Platform of Kenya and of the Kenya Bureau of Standards’ Apiary Products Technical Committee (which advises the Government of Kenya on standardisation of apiary equipment and products). He attended many workshops and meetings in these capacities while also working with the DFID-funded Bees Abroad Programme.

Local bee-keeping cooperatives were one focus of David’s community liaison work. A large proportion of the honey produced on the Ranch (>55 % of the most recent harvest) was sold in bulk to these cooperatives, enabling them to sell it on for a profit.

Log hives hung in a Yellow Fever Tree Acacia xanthophloea to help reduce damage to woodlands by Elephants. Photograph by Paul Benson.

The achievements of the Lolldaiga Hills Ranch’s Bee-keeping and Honey Production Programme would not have possible without the expertise, leadership and dedication of David Njuguna. In his memory, Lolldaiga Hills Ranch will continue to expand its bee-keeping programme, improve honey production, and protect plant species important both to honey production and to the maintenance of biodiversity—both on the Ranch and on nearby community lands.

Reference: Vollrath, F. & Douglas-Hamilton, I. 2002. African bees to control African Elephants. Naturweissenschaften 89: 508-511.

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