Honeyguide staff retreat adventure

By Ng’orongo Nyamoni Honeyguide Communication Manager

The Honeyguide staff are a close-knit group, more like a family than a group of colleagues. Recently this happy family enjoyed a three-day retreat at the Manyara Ranch. The aim of the trip, according to Damian Bell (Executive Director, Honeyguide), was to relax and refresh staff, giving everyone an opportunity to enjoy some time together out of the workplace and to give new members a chance to get to know everyone. The retreat began well, with more than 40 people camping in the middle of nowhere while enjoying the abundant wildlife at Manyara Ranch, one of the places to which everybody working at Honeyguide is dedicated to conserve and protect.

While on retreat, the Honeyguide team experienced a close encounter with their namesake the honey bee! Despite all the benefits honey bees offer other communities around them, they can be very aggressive when protecting their hive or when disturbed near to their nests. Such disturbance can be caused by loud noises, carbon dioxide from vehicles, or unusual and alarming odors like perfume. On the second day of the retreat, the Honeyguide family went out for a game drive and planned to have a bush lunch. They drove around until they found a pleasant hillside spot where they stopped the cars and began preparing for their group picnic. Suddenly, they received a warmly welcome from a swarm of honey bees which were on top of trees without them knowing.

The Honeyguide family had a firsthand experience with this bee aggression when they were attacked and stung by a swarm of bees! Some decided to run up the hill, while others locked themselves into cars.

One staff member was fearless and risked lying down at the scene instead of running away. “After receiving my first sting I made a quick decision to lie down flat on the ground, while the swarm of bees chasing my team mates. They didn’t seem to know the trick!” explained Kim Hamad. “I learnt this during my field training while taking my degree, on wilderness and survival skills course”.

Another employee Enock Shiganza was not so lucky! “I couldn’t get away from the bees as the car was right beneath the tree and surrounded by the bees. The only thing left was to pray to God for help, knowing he was the only one who could get me out safely, and he answered my prayers!” said Enoch.

Dukuru Oring’idi, a Manyara Ranch Ranger, who had never driven a car in his life before, by the end of the day was celebrating his first day driving test, passed the test and received his Honeyguide driving license that very day. Enock to escape the bees, dived into a nearby car and unfortunately he arrived with many accompanying bees, the car inhabitants all jumped out except to Dukuru who could not exit that fast as he was in the very rear. So Dukuru patiently killed all the remaining bees in the car and then dared to jump into the driver’s seat and see what could happen; he pressed that pedal and moved that stick (OK, it was an automatic) and the Toyota VX roared with life; He risked everything and succeeded, saving his colleague from great pain and drove the car to safety.

The whole incident took about 15 minutes, and then everybody escaped from the area. Happily, no staff members were seriously injured during the incident, and what felt like the worst thing turned into a funny story full of laughter. This new bush experience made the Honeyguide team develop a new saying: “The honey bees recognized their other family and welcomed them to the wild! ’’


Team members enjoying the day with zebras

In usual day to day life, the Honeyguide team are busy at work, which leaves very little time to interact and get to know each other. At the end of the honey bee experience, however, new employees had gotten to know their colleagues, people who had not previously spoken to each other often were laughing together and everyone was enjoying the retreat and their place within the Honeyguide family. The retreat worked as it was supposed to, helping to develop close relations between the employees working tirelessly to ensure that conservation of the environment and wildlife is at its highest.