Creating a new livelihood in West Ghana

The Bia Biosphere Reserve in west Ghana covers some 7,770 hectares and is where the country’s major forest animals are found including the forest elephant and the endangered bongo. It’s been closed to people to preserve one of the few remaining areas of precious virgin forest. This has forced local the community who depended on the forest to find new ways to make a living. Those selected include growing palm oil and mushrooms, snail farming and beekeeping.

Learn more about the  Bia Bioshere project here

Kenyan partner wins First Prize

News from the National Show held in Nanyuki Town, Kenya. Congratulations go to Joseph Gitonga and the team on this very well-deserved prize. The show promoted innovation and technology in agriculture and trade. The Bees Abroad project related well across the themes of pollination, food security and income achieving a very successful result.

Bees Abroad Kenya wins 1st Prize at Show

Workshop: Beekeeping Projects in Africa 27-10-18

Booking is now open for the National Honey Show’s Workshop – Beekeeping Projects in Africa. This is for those considering, or already involved, in projects which use beekeeping to help people help themselves out of poverty. It will offer practical advice based on case studies on all aspects of African Beekeeping.
There are only 20 places, to book visit: Workshop: Beekeeping Projects in Africa

London to Paris Bike Ride

Enablon, a Wolters Kluwer business, is the world’s leading provider of Sustainability, EH&S and Operational Risk Management Software. A big thank you to seven Enablonians and their Road Crew who will ride 1-3 June 2018 before the start of the 2018 SPF EMEA conference. In 3 days they will cycle almost 330 km starting in London and ending at the Enablon office in Paris. Please sponsor this terrific team at Virgin Money Giving

Beekeeper Marketing

This is a new role. Its purpose is to increase the awareness of Bees Abroad amongst the 25,000 members of UK beekeeping associations. Generous beekeepers currently provide a large proportion of our income. However, awareness of Bees Abroad is very limited and by increasing our focus on beekeepers we know there is considerable potential for additional income.

The are many ways of achieving this e.g.

  • Regularly targeted mailings to beekeeping associations with appealing content.
  • Increased attendance at beekeeper’s conferences.
  • A programme of presentations at meetings of beekeeping associations.
  • Greater use of social media.
  • Personal networking…we are all beekeepers, we all have contacts but we need a methodical approach to exploiting them.

We need a volunteer beekeeper to join our fundraising and communications team to develop and implement a plan to which the whole Bees Abroad team can be harnessed to support.

Project Manager – what does it involve?

A Project Manager makes sure that we deliver agreed outputs and outcomes to the best of everyone’s ability. Our Process Guide details how we go about our project work. Increasing numbers of projects are delivered with local partners. The role includes:

  • Making sure that applicants are suitable beneficiaries. This usually happens in country face-to-face.
  • Project design, budgeting, planning and approval.
  • Securing of adequate funds.
  • Monitoring and managing project delivery. This involves in-country visits and sometimes delivering training and training and assessing local trainers.
  • Controlling project budgets.
  • Reporting on progress.
  • For our current projects please visit our projects page.

A successful Project Manager is:

  • A competent beekeeper beyond BBKA Basic Assessment level – and not just with gentle bees.
  • Familiar with general business skills. Our projects are about setting up small businesses, not just beekeeping.
  • An excellent communicator and networker, particularly good at listening, sensitive to other cultures, tactful and diplomatic.
  • Highly capable in planning and organising, including financial control.
  • Able to work in difficult conditions and not risk-averse.
  • Enthusiastic, flexible, able to work alone and take responsibility yet a keen team player too.
  • Available for sufficient time to maximise success.

Induction process – three routes:

Pre-Existing Project Experience
If you have already managed beekeeping projects in the developing world why not get in touch? We can offer the opportunity to share knowledge with our team and the benefits of being part of an organisation dedicated to the relief of poverty through beekeeping.

Apprenticeship with a Bees Abroad Project Manager

There are sometimes opportunities to travel to a project or projects with an experienced Bees Abroad project manager. You will need to fund your own costs (or fundraise to do so) and should budget in the region of £1500. There are some suggestions below about raising funds.

Apprenticeship without a Bees Abroad Project Manager

We can help with visits for individuals to existing mature projects in Kenya or Uganda to observe and learn about the challenges of beekeeping in Africa. Again you will need to self-fund or fund-raise for this initial visit and the cost is typically £1000 to £1500.

Fundraising routes for Initial Visits, some suggestions:

Self-Funding – Donations of personal funds to Bees Abroad which are then used for visits attract gift aid of 25% if the donor is a taxpayer.

Local Beekeepers – A recent recruit convinced her local Beekeeping Association to give the money made from their annual raffle to help fund her visit and to give any surplus to Bees Abroad. The raffle raised £1300 which Santander Bank agreed to match fund to a tune of £1000. A school at which one of her friends does some beekeeping work raised £163 in a bucket collection. Result £2463 raised in 5 months.

Relatives and Friends – ‘No birthday presents thanks – give to Bees Abroad this year’.

Buy & Sell on eBay – it works for one of our project managers for continued project funds.

Swarms & Nuclei – Ask for donations to Bees Abroad when you collect a swarm or give bees away.

Happy Bee-day

World Bee Day is supported by all UN Member States and the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Associations. It takes place on 20th May each year and it highlights how the beekeeping sector helps poverty alleviation, preserving a healthy environment and its biodiversity.

To celebrate we have created some gift cards100% of the proceeds from this card will be used to support beekeeper-to-beekeeper training to alleviate poverty. £5 for a pack of 4 cards. Available on-line from our shop.

Richard & Jane Ridler visit Uganda

On arrival in Uganda, we met Shaun from http://www.beeutifulcreations.org, a social enterprise working with local beekeepers to make and sell a fabulous range of value added products. We were given honey with our winter tea and bees appeared immediately!

On Friday we travelled North from Kigali to Kasese. Just outside Kasese we crossed the equator and passed ahead of elephants. Daniel, Grace and their family were thrilled to see us again and the football was a big hit. We are very fortunate to have these wonderful folks leading our work at LIDEFO.

We took our trainee project manager Venetia to see a model apiary and then to visit the honey collection and processing centres.  Despite severe drought last year, since our visit to LIDEFO in 2014, great progress has been made. The team are making 100 hives for a local land owner who they will also train. A good example of a group developing its own income after our initial support has ended.

Below is a photo of Grace’s Shop and the LIDEFO Honey Purchasing Centre. We shared ideas about new ways to deliver projects. We agreed to experiment with recording key data, asking chosen families to record our impact on their life style and linking further project stages to success in earlier stages. We explored ideas for making honey based sweets, bee tourism and maintaining the loyalty of new beekeepers to LIDEFO.

This photo shows where beekeepers in the area take their honey. Once LIDEFO have purchased the honey, they process pack and sell it to retailers.

On Sunday we travelled to Ibanda Parish to audit our Noah’s widows project. First we joined the morning church service and I was unexpectedly asked to address the congregation. Various senior church officials had come especially to meet us. They thanked us and Bees Abroad at every possible opportunity. We were shown some honey they collected in an alter wine bottle!

After the service we visited the apiary and discussed progress with the widows. We concluded that the project is progressing well but that the drought of last year had slowed things down. We were pleased that hand cream was being made and earning a little extra income for the widows.

In the evening, we assembled a tasting panel for our test batch of honey toffee we helped LIDEFO to make.

On Monday we spent the day assessing our project for the Abughama self help group. There are three apiaries in three villages. At one of the apiaries we were given honey comb to taste from a hive only installed four months ago. We put astonishing result down to the perfect conditions for beekeeping. We visited six apiaries but most interesting was meeting the beekeepers, their families and local dignitaries.

You will see below a water feeder for bees doubles up as drip tray for the tasing up and a watering point for the chickens!

We are now en-route to Rwenzori Women’s Resource Centre for Community Development. We went close to the border with DR Congo and right on the equator to meet with two very different groups who have asked for support from Bees Abroad.

Today we met the management of the Rwenzori Women’s Resource Centre for Community Development. First we had to work out why so many men were present. Our challenge is to structure a project which empowers the women in society where the position is so different to ours.

In the afternoon we met the Kiringa United Beekeepers Association. They all had some experience of beekeeping but had not received any training. Their principal request was for knowledge to help improve the yields of their apiaries. We had some fascinating conversations which underlined just how lucky we are as UK beekeepers. We visited an apiary in the most beautiful location but with some strange box shaped hives and one new Langstroth.

Above you will see Venetia taking cotton from a mop head, platting strands together to make a wick.

In the foothills of Rwenzori mountains the people have a different concept of time and distance. Daytime is divided into four. With the exception of the well educated, hours and minutes are not understood. Distance is measured by the number of valleys in the mountains between places. They are quite unable to tell distance by measurement in Kilometres. Short distances are measured by marking sticks. This makes for some interesting conversations!

Jack fruit, Dutura, planted for bee foliage and the bees love the Avocado flowers.

Today we heard the call of a Honey Guide Bird (indicator indicator). This bird guides predators, including humans to hives of bees with its distinctive call. When the predator breaks into the hive it feeds on the debris left by the predator, it can even digest wax.

We left Kasese and stayed in the Queen Elizabeth National Park on our way to Buhoma

On Friday we drove for six hours in dirt roads. Fortunately, there was very little traffic although this truck travelling from the Congo was intimidating!

We arrived at our Bwindi Batwa project and received a very warm welcome. We stayed in rooms attached to the local hospital and discovered that honey is being used to treat patients. We stayed in this accommodation adjacent to the mushroom growing shed on the right.

On Saturday we left Venetia in Buhoma to inspect the hives and join in allocating goats to the Batwa. Venetia is an expert in goats and bees!

When we arrived at Murambo, we met Ezra our leader at the Murambo Beekeeper’s project. Ezra had planned wall to wall visits of member’s apiaries. Our small involvement with this group has already lead to a four-fold increase in membership, so we need to work out how to cope with this increased capacity. Most members use log hives because there are plenty of trees, or they use hives constructed from wattle and daub as shown in the picture.

We visited a group who use mainly traditional hives. One had three in an exclosure in his garden.

This video shows a traditional smoker being used which is very effective. The bees were very calm and well behaved.

We visited a porridge shop. Porridge is a mildly alcoholic drink made by fermenting a mixture of lie grade honey with water and sorghum flour. The photos show the price list – little too much of it is drunk in this area.

We met one of our groups in Church which had wattle and daub walls and corrugated iron roof. One beekeeper described drone congregations and we were able to explain to the group what they are.

The next day we crossed at Rwanda, at Kamwezi a remote spot on a dirt road. No other traffic crossed for the whole hour we were there. We called into the Umutara school for deaf children.  At this school we run a beekeeping project that integrates into the school curriculum. We found they had already made a start without us! This picture shows two students with the traditional hives talking in Rwandan sign language. The school has accommodation available for a project manager, we just need to find one!

We enjoyed local honey served to sweeten our tea which tasted very smokey, a common problem here. We met a group of beekeepers who applied to Bees Abroad for help. We gave them an introductory training course and spent time exploring why their yields from traditional hives are low. The conclusion was that we should try to set up a training apiary to see how the use of Kenyan Top Hives would improve the situation.

On Thursday we braved Katonga, at Rwandan favourite breakfast. It’s a yummy combination of boiled potato, savoury bananas and lumps of beef in tomato sauce.

On our second day of teaching we collected acacia, mango, daisy, hibiscus and begonia flowers and grasses to give a visual aid to help explain about nectar and pollen collection. We discovered there is no word for pollen in Rwanda. We said good by to the Kigudugu beekeepers at lunch time and drove to Kigali where we saw the first Mzungu for several days.

Today we travelled from Kigali to Kilimanjaro on a very small Rwandanair plane. After a long drive we arrived at our lodge where we discovered they kept a few bees. We bought a jar of honey to take to the Ulster Beekeepers Conference for tasting.

During the weekend we took a couple of days rest from beekeeping. We spent a day at Lake Manuara National Park bird spotting and game viewing. We visited the Ngorogoro crater and the Olduvai gorge.

We found a fence with bee hives hanging from it designed to keep elephants out of a vegetable garden. Elephants are very scared of bees and similar fences are widely used. The design of the fence was not strong and several hives were not colonised.