Running backwards for the future of bees


Farai Chinomwe is a beekeeper who runs ultra marathons, but that’s not the most interesting thing about him. Runners following Chinomwe don’t see his back. They see his face, smile and all, because although he is moving in the same direction, Chinomwe is doing it backwards. While it might seem like a perplexing way to take on the taxing work of running a marathon, Chinomwe uses it to bring attention to a looming environmental disaster: the disappearance of our bees.

Chinomwe discovered his unusual talent during a bee removal when his car broke down. With a crate of anxious bees in the back, Chinomwe had to move the car quickly, and discovered pushing it backwards to be the most effective way. He found he had a lot of strength, and Chinomwe realised that he could use his ability to create awareness about the dangers facing bee populations worldwide. Bees are essential to our food security. They pollinate much of our fruits, vegetables, and other crops. But over decades increased use of pesticides, climate change, and habitat loss are leading to their decline. With his business, Blessed Bee Africa, Chinomwe works to protect them by safely removing bee hives from homes and relocating them. He is also teaching the youth in his community about the importance of bees, and how to care for them.

Chinomwe has run the Two Oceans and Om die Dam Marathons backwards, and reverse-ran the Comrades Marathon three times. “This is dedicated to us saving bees, because they are under threat as we are talking right now,” Chinomwe says. Although he may be finishing his races the wrong way, he’s taking the future of bees in the right direction.

Footage supplied by the Two Oceans Marathon was used in the creation of this film.