Bee hunting and honey harvesting are social activities that most young men will experience growing up in rural Swaziland.
Honey bees are not only a food source, but they also provide an opportunity for young men to show how brave they are by partaking in the social activity of bee hunting.
Hunting for bees has been customary to Swazis for a long time, it is a skill that is passed from one generation to the next.
The manner in which honey is harvested has evolved over time, the older generation used a certain type of wood to immobilise bees in a hive, but nowadays using an old tyre is more routine. The two common dangers inherent in harvesting wild bees are the use of fire, and the potential to drive out bees permanently.
The use of fire poses the threat of having a wildland fire breakout. What usually happens is that a small fire is lit a few meters away from the hive, the fire is used to burn a piece of used tyre. When the tyre eventually burns, it is placed on the hive’s entrance where the fumes will effectively immobilise the bees and begin the harvesting process. A fire may start as a result of sheer negligence by bee hunters, either by leaving the fire unattended or failing to control the fire. This is especially true where bee hunters find bees in forest plantations because this type of site is notorious for dry wood and leaves which are potent fuel for wild fires.
The second threat is that honey bees can be driven away permanently when honey harvesting is not controlled. It is not uncommon that bees will abandon a hive that has been harvested, furthermore it is not uncommon that bee hunters will completely destroy a hive in the course of extracting the honey. This has the effect of driving away bees permanently and thereby upsetting the balance enjoyed by the eco system in question.
Without completely rendering bee hunting illegal, the government must look into formally regulating bee hunting. Such regulation shall have the effect of benefiting both humans and the environment by advocating for responsible and conscious bee hunting.
Wild fires and an imbalanced eco system are not good for our natural environment, which is why we should enact laws and policies to prevent environmental harm.
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