Good to the last drop – Bees in India

Martin Kunz has recently visited India. Here is a fascinating article about beekeeping there, the different species of bee and how the honey crop is improving livelihoods. The article is written by his wife Marianne Landzettel, with photos taken by Martin.

<b>Reprint courtesy of Oregon Tilth’s </b><b><i>In Good Tilth</i></b><b> magazine, Spring Issue 2017</b>

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United Nations funds beekeeping in Nigeria


The United Nations Staff 1% Development Fund has awarded a grant to a new beekeeping training centre at Zamfarawa in NW Nigeria. The UN 1% fund identifies community projects in developing countries with potential to become self-sustaining and keeps in touch with local contacts who supervise and monitor the development initiatives.

https://www.katebackdrop.comThe new Beekeeping Extension Resource Centre will be an education centre for rural communities, school children, and students of Ahmadu Bello University and the Samaru College of Agriculture. There will be a range of literature and other information on beekeeping available, examples of hives, protective clothing and extraction equipment, and a projector and screen for presentations. 120 local community members, 60% of whom are women, have already registered their interest.

The Beekeeping Extension Society (BES) have managed and run a number of projects funded and supported by BeesAbroad. The existing capacity of the group, and the involvement of Idris Muhammad Barua, BES’ Project Director (and previous BeesAbroad trainer for projects in Cameroon and Liberia) was pivotal to securing UN funding as it proved that the funds would have long-term, sustainable outcomes.

BeesAbroad are very proud that our current and previous projects have contributed to this exciting step forward for beekeeping education for Nigeria.







Visit to Rwanda 2017

We visited 2 community groups in the west of Rwanda to assess projects for future support from Bees Abroad. Both have in the past received funding from other organisations to establish beekeeping however no on-the-ground training was offered.

During our short visit we found that despite both being dynamic and committed community groups the lack of training has meant that neither have been successful in developing beekeeping. This is even more disappointing given that the area has a strong beekeeping tradition and newly established beekeeping groups would certainly benefit from local beekeepers willing to share their knowledge and from non-beekeepers who know the value of beekeeping and are keen to be involved.

During our week-long visit we provided basic training and support to try and enable the communities to make the most of the equipment and local knowledge that they already have. We also identified a future Bees Abroad project to provide further training in beekeeping, harvesting and marketing and believe that sharing these skills would allow both communities  to benefit as much as possible from beekeeping.


The community in Bumba is still recovering from the genocide of 1994 to 1997 with many damaged people and families struggling to move forward in life. The Community Education Programme (CEP) sees its role to develop more projects, to improve local people’s lives and to prepare them for the 21st century.

Our contact was Father Patrick, a very enthusiastic and committed advisor to the CEP. He was previously parish priest in Bumba and has continued his involvement, working to source funding, develop new ideas and keep the community inspired. He is rightly proud of the CEP; a cooperative with a clear constitution and decisions making process whereby the management committee and cooperative members determine how to spend money, what projects to pursue and who gets paid what proportion of proceeds.

The CEP has a bakery with modern European bread oven producing bread and cakes daily. There is also a community nursery school, meeting rooms from which it runs classes, and accommodation for volunteers and/or paying guests.

There is great potential for the CEP’s beekeeping activities however this has not been successfully developed. The CEP secured funding from the German embassy to buy 70 Kenyan Top-Bar hives, 2 bee suits and a smoker but they were not confident in their knowledge and hence when we arrived all 70 hives were still in storage, waiting to be prepared and installed in apiaries.

During our visit we:

  • cut and modified the hives as not all the roofs and top bars fitted properly and taught the team to do this work so that they are now confident with the KTBs.
  • provided classroom training in bee biology, hive management and apiary management.
  • provided practical training in cleaning, baiting, checking and managing local and KTB hives.
  • thought the group how to make Catcher hives and discussed their use.
  • helped the bee keeping group set up 3 apiaries with well-located stands and hives.
  • visited a potential site for a 4th apiary and met the farmer who rents the land from CEP and who is keen to be part of the project.
  • developed good relationships with number of skilled local beekeepers, in particular Martin Ungarare who is competent to repair and modify damaged hives, clean and bait hives and assemble hives into an apiary. He is prepared to routinely check hives and to work with others to develop their skills.

There is considerable beekeeping in the local area, mostly cylindrical local hives but also a few Kenyan Top-Bar hives. Father Patrick was once again our contact: he moved to Ngororera last year and has organised for the Catholic church to support the Ngororera Womens’ group, a co-operative in which about 40 women are involved.

Some of the women have beekeeping experience and the co-operative’s President, an elected member of the local council, has worked hard to organise the use of council land for the main apiary.

The US embassy funded 60 hives however once again no beekeeping training was offered. This has meant that only one of 60 hives has bees.  We found that none of the hives in the main apiary (40 hives) had been set up correctly nor baited, some were not clean and most did not have a full set of bars.

During our visit we:

  • worked to help develop a beekeeping group (6 women, 5 men). Some of the group have bee keeping knowledge and have traditional hives. They will be of great help to the group
  • provided practical training was provided at the main apiary with the group in how to set up a hive correctly and how to clean and bait. At the end of the session 10 hives were in good working order
  • discussed basic bee biology and harvesting.
  • helped plan the development of the apiaries and agreed that 10 hives will be moved from the main apiary to one of the smaller sites, after they have been cleaned and set up properly.
  • developed a good working relationship with Grace, a member of the beekeeping group who is very keen to see the project thrive and who works for the local council that owns the land on which the main apiary is sited.

UK Department for International Development Awards (DFID) A+

Beekeeping in the Laikipia area of Kenya

A three year BeesAbroad project in Kenya which was funded by DFID funded project has been recognised for it’s significant contribution to the goal of poverty relief in the area. DFID deemed that the outcomes of the project, which had a budget of £246,798 controlled by Bees Abroad, had exceeded expections, were ‘highly relevant’ and ‘incorporated value for money aspects particularly related to economy’.

“the beekeeping based activities provided a level of resilience to extreme weather events that typically impact on livestock and crop production in these areas”.  Ms Judy Amoke, Performance and Risk Manager, DfID

So what did we achieve?

  • Promoted beekeeping activies amoung 1245 pastoral households
  • 971 housholds made hive products for sale
  • 523 households saw incomes rise by more than 15%
  • 11 of the beekeepers’ groups set up attained quality certification from the Kenya Bureau of Standards.
  • 4 co-operatives established with full business plans
  • 15 market outlets formalised
  • More than 450 households reported planting five or more bee-friendly trees or shrubs.

“It is clear … the project had achieved good results, hence worth replication and scaling up. It is our wish to engage partners who work towards value for money and ensure such verifiable results”. ACT! (Act, Transform, Change), the allocating group for DfID money in Kenya

BeesAbroad are very proud of this project and look forward to many more similar successes in the future. Many thanks to Bees Abroad volunteers John and Mary Home who managed the project together with David Evans as project accountant.

Visit to Kenya by Abdul Miah

When the chance arose to travel to Kenya and document the DIFD funded Bees abroad project, it was an opportunity too good to turn down. Landing in Nairobi on my birthday and leaving a young family behind in London, I wanted to maximise this opportunity to reflect to the best of my ability the impact beekeeping has on the lives of people benefiting from the Bees Abroad project in Kenya.

I was collected by the Executive project manager David Njuguna and our driver Jessie Maina and was taken to Nanyuki to the project headquarters. David is a very knowledgeable beekeeper and I was quickly acquainted to the cultural differences in bee keeping together with the social customs in Kenya (lots of praying at every opportunity). During my short stay we visited 7 groups and two schools, with most days starting early and finishing late, with hours spent on very dusty and often bumpy roads.

Our first stop was visiting a honey processing unit in Ruai. The centre had been refurbished with the support of Bees Abroad after being closed for many years. The centre was originally opened in 1978 by the Canadian High commission but eventually closed down as interest and knowledge about bees declined in the local area.

Since 2012, with the support of Bees Abroad, the centre which contains a honey refinery, a small meeting space and a couple of storage rooms has rejuvenated the beekeeping community in the area with up to 200 bee keepers benefiting from the centre. Group Chairman Josphet Kiriungi, declared his group have benefited greatly from the work of Bees Abroad as they received training in beekeeping and capacity building. The Ruai group have also been working closely with Bees Abroad’s Nanyuki based marketing officers.

Mary Ngari – Bees Abroad Marketing Officer in Kenya

Marketing the honey has been the biggest challenge for the Ruai group.  They have formed a cooperative, registered with various government agencies and are certified by the Kenya Bureau of Standards to legally promote/sell their honey and other hive related by products to large supermarkets. Mary, a part time employee with Bees Abroad, feels her jobs has an immense impact on the Kenyan beekeepers as she tries to connect local bee keepers directly with shops and chain outlets, bypassing any middle parties. The marketing officers regularly have to conduct market research and surveys on honey and wax products as they provide support to a range of clients – from small groups in semi-arid villages to cooperatives in cities and towns. Mary claims her work has helped many famers to earn an extra income. She noted that the extra income has a massive impact on their families as they can eat better than before and also pay towards school fees for their children.

Apart from the honey yield, I noticed how groups try and maximise all the other by products they gather during their harvests. The group in Mukuri were very interesting – they physically showed me how they created a really popular cream from the beeswax in under 30 minutes.

Abdul Miah – 2016

Come and meet us

We always enjoy meeting our supporters.  We will have a stand at the following shows this summer:

15-16 June – Three Counties Show at the Show Ground, Malvern, Worcestershire

11 July – Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate, Yorkshire

12-14 July – 2000 Trees Festival Upcote Farm, Withington, Cheltenham, Glos, GL54 4BL

5th August – Gower Show, Penrice Castle Park, Reynoldston, Swansea, SA3 1LA

10-11 August – Shrewsbury Show, Shropshire

31 August – Dunster Show, Minehead, Somerset

25-26 October – National Honey Show, Sandown Park, Esher

Please come along and visit our stand and see our range of Gift Cards

Continue reading “Come and meet us”

Heather Honey: a Comprehensive Guide

The launch of Michael Badger’s book, Heather Honey: A Comprehensive Guide is a great success and proving very popular with beekeepers and we are delighted to have received over £300 in Royalities so far.  You can order your copy from If you are looking for a special gift, a limited edition of 100, signed hard cover copies are available too. A big thank you to Michael Badger for donating proceeds from his book to Bees Abroad and the Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers.

The Forward is written by Graeme de Bracey Marrs, MBE, Past Master of The Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers of London (2010)

Heather Honey: A Comprehensive Guide

A wide range of beekeeping gems is offered. Detailed information, supported by many photographs and illustrations, makes this book a pleasure to read. The history, knowledge and instruction captured in this book will aid those who participate in the highly respected British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) examinations, for which The Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers of London presents the annual Wax Chandlers’ Prize.

The information included about the origins of the landscape of the heather moors portrays a fascinating history. The painstaking reference to all heather areas of the British Isles is exemplary. Examples of man’s most recent misdemeanours to the environment are enlightening.

In conclusion, I believe that all beekeepers and others with an interest in this subject and beekeeping as a whole will find this work a fine adjunct to their libraries of books.

Michael Badger, MBE, has been a beekeeper man and boy, with experience extending over 65 years. In his time, he has been fortunate to meet many of the great keepers of honey bees. He was devoted to the late Colin Weightman, MBE, and Brother Adam, OBE, OSB, of Buckfast Abbey fame, spending many of his formative beekeeping years with them.


Adding Value in Kenya

Mary demonstrating soap production
Mary demonstrating soap production

John and Mary Home are visiting Kenya. A visit to Kerio Valley to give training in making soap from beeswax and honey. Then off to Laikaipia meeting with David Njugna and the Deputy Minister for small livestock, including bees. John Home is pleased to present a Refractometer kindly donated by to Bee Products Enterprise Development. We are grateful to them for their support.