MZEE SILVANUS MOSOTA’S compound is a sort of forest of its own kind. And not just a forest – it is a home to indigenous tree species and flowers of diverse colors and aroma. In the middle of the approximately one-acre expanse surrounded with trees is the house of Mzee Mosota, made of bricks with a roof of maroon iron sheets; and posh inside, with furniture of mahogany and everything else that pronounce the word ‘money’.
Behind the house, in the canopy of the evergreen trees, lie over 70 Beehives. Bees buzz so loudly that they grip the attention of any visitor for minutes before it becomes somewhat normal, at least in their mind. This is the goldmine of Mosota and his family, the means by which he has educated his children and acquired anything else he owns.
“I started rearing bees in 1985 in Nyandarua forests, in the former Central Province,” he takes me back the memory lane.
‘In 1995 I sold all my beehives and moved home. After two years of research and planning, I decided to do Beekeeping as my main economic activity. I have nothing for which to regret,” he adds.
He leads me to his farm, while holding his handsome grandson near his chest by one arm like a father. I follow closely behind as we climb the steps to his riches. He walks so strongly and ably you cannot imagine he is 78-year-old. His beehives are neatly laid on double timber benches in single files. Napier-grass forms the hedge round about his gold-farm.
“I started with two beehives. After harvesting honey from the two, I was excited by the good harvest and decided to expand the business. I added the beehives to a hundred,” he says.
The beautiful trees and plants covering the beehives look so good and indigenous; one can’t help but think of the biblical Garden of Eden.
“I decided to fill my compound with plants of diverse nature, so that my bees could have a good source of food for making honey. Besides, I did that to restrict them from going to the neighbors where they can easily spark conflicts and feuds- in case they sting anyone,’ he says.
Next to his main house is a massive concrete-made water tank.
“Bees need water a lot. In fact they bank on water to make honey more than anything else. At first I could place platters and troughs next to the beehives but I realised that was quite hectic and time consuming. I dug a well and constructed this tank, primarily to be a source of water for my bees. Nowadays it serves us with water for every purpose. I don’t lack water at any single time,” he says.
Silvanus Mosota’s home in the rural village of Gechona in Nyamira County attracts visitors from far and wide; from Kenya and abroad- all for honey.
“Last year I sold all of my honey to someone from Netherlands. I market my business in the internet; that is where he found out about me. We communicated via internet and he sent somebody who came and took all the 180 liters of honey that I had harvested and packed,” he remembers.
He also sells his produce to buyers from Kisumu, Nairobi, Mombasa and other towns.
“Most of them are directed to my home, and they buy in bulk. A litre of honey ranges between $10 and $15. I also sell to some villagers, albeit most of them buy in small quantities,” he says.
Mzee Mosota has a reputation of a grand Beekeeper in Nyamira, and a renowned chief supplier of honey. In addition, he is sometimes invited by the Government and some NGO’s to speak in farmers’ seminars. In the hallway to his house are certificates of merit and appreciation by such organizations. Among the certificates are two which he was awarded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). He has proved his mettle all the way to the international stage. And he has no plan of backing down any time soon.
“Some of my beehives were attacked by safari ants and the bees in the ten beehives flew away. But since I have energy, passion and zest within me, I am planning to re-invent myself once again and expand the business even wider,” he says.
Mosota has trained several young men in the county, and mostly from the village. He is still ready to pass this skill to anybody of willing heart.
“I learnt this skill from my late father. He used to rear bees in traditional pots and I grew up seeing him do this. I have trained several youngsters from across the county and they are doing well in the business.”
“The best student that I have ever trained is a young carpenter from Nyamira town. The guy came here several times and I used to teach and train him. Nowadays he is doing even better than me, because is project is super big. In addition, he has opened a training school at his home to train other bee farmers,” he says.
Due to his passion and success in bee farming, he has had the opportunity to dine with big people, besides the many national and international accolades his farming has won him.
“District Commissioners used to come here to look at my project and wonder. Even some local elected leaders have come here in the past to request me go train other farmers. And I gladly did,” he says.
He says that bee farming is easy to do as it needs little labor and a small size of land.
“I encourage the young people in the society to take up this type of farming because it pays more than people think of it. Even university and college students; and even school leavers can take up this farming seriously and they will not regret; seeing that there is no enough land to practice crop farming,” he says.