The long way back to Nairobi

KEN_2718I have always dreamt of seeing a lion in the wild. I didn’t want to set my expectations too high, but on the return trip from Mbita I was hoping I would get the chance to see one while we took a break from bee collecting to drive around Masai Mara National Reserve. Within the first thirty minutes of entering the park this dream became a reality as we saw three lions resting on the road.

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On to bigger and better bees…


Besides honey bees, many other species of insects, birds and even mammals (sometimes even people!) serve as pollinators. In Kenya, carpenter bees from the genus Xylocopa are one of the noisiest, if not largest, invertebrate pollinators. Their careening flight paths are easy to pick out from dozens of meters away, but sampling requires a great deal more running and wild net swinging than their more predictable honey bee relatives.

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“Pure oil!”

Honey_oil“Pure oil!” our driver, Fredrick, gasped as the honey dripped from the top of the hive box. We were in the process of harvesting honey from a stingless bee colony at the home-apiary of local farmer Stanley Imbusi. Stanley was introduced to us earlier in the day as the “stingless bee expert of Kenya” by our colleague Dr. Mary Gikungu from JKUAT. Mary certainly wasn’t lying. Continue reading

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A beeline through Kakamega Forest

KEN_0452I once knew a monkey named Kakamega. She was larger than most of her sisters, and had a distinctive black spot near her eye that made her easy to identify. More importantly, she had attitude.

This was seven years ago when I spent a year studying gelada monkeys in the highlands of Ethiopia Continue reading

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Swining and Dining: a lesson in keeping it local

DSC_9058Honey can be shipped anywhere in the world with relative ease. Sometimes hives are trucked vast distances simply to pollinate crops. Kenya, in contrast, is a place where local food rules. Here you’re not bumping into apples and potatoes that have been kept in cold storage for a year (but you might be in the US and Europe). Fields of corn, rice, tea, bananas, potatoes, and kale regularly flash across our windows as we move from site to site. At Arrive, the school and orphanage we spent two days collecting bee samples out of, much of the food comes from Continue reading

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Happy to be Arrive

Arrive We got a call from Brian about an hour before arriving in Kisii. “Is it raining where you are?” he asked. There were a few clouds in the sky, but nothing we hadn’t seen in the past 4 days of scorched travel though Naivasha and Nairobi. “No, all clear. See you in an hour!” Continue reading

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Good Collections, Bad Internet


We can now check Naivasha and Kisii off our list of planned sample sites. Thankfully we have had more success with our collections than our internet connection! In Naivasha, we managed to collect bees Continue reading

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