Food, Beekeeping & Social Justice – Campaign Summary

'Food, Beekeeping & Social Justice' campaign, Green Match Fund 2024

April 20, 2024
Food, Beekeeping and Social Justice logo on a yellow background. Subtitle: Empowering lives through sustainable beekeeping

'Food, Beekeeping & Social Justice' - Bringing it together

This year’s Green Match Fund campaign theme was ‘Food, Beekeeping & Social Justice’. Food production is at the intersection of the local and global environment and the day-to-day livelihoods of the communities we work with, facing the effects of climate change. Sustainable farming and beekeeping can help support the local environment while enabling communities to achieve a better quality of life. A win-win is possible for people and planet.

With so much going on, we wanted to bring it all together here, provide links to things you might have missed and hopefully get you excited about what we’re up to next.

Thank you! £10,000 for beekeeping communities

An enormous thank you to the 63 people who helped us reach our fundraising target and to all those who provided support and followed along with the campaign.

We raised an incredible £5,000 in donations, which was then doubled to a whopping £10,000 by the Big Give. This means we can now help more communities achieve more reliable and sustainable livelihoods, with beekeeping and this will change lives for the better.

We couldn’t do any of this without your kindness and generosity, so from the bottom of our hearts, thank you!

'Food, Beekeeping & Social Justice' Stories

Every week of the campaign we shared a new story on the theme of Beekeeping, Food & Social Justice. The articles cover stories from around Bees Abroad on how communities are empowering themselves though sustainable beekeeping and food production. The successes of these beekeeping projects are only possible through the generosity of our donors and supporters. The communities are the change makers, supporters like you are the enablers.

Excel Farmers Beekeeping Journey

An hour and a half’s drive away from Ibadan, Nigeria’s third largest city, lives a village community home to the Excel beekeeping group. This blog is written by them.

Read More >>

Social Justice and Beekeeping in Ghana

Earlier this April, Bees Abroad Partnership Manager, Trisha Marlow, visited Ghana. She reports back on what the communities told her about food insecurity, social justice and beekeeping.

Read More >>

Slow Food, Slow Beekeeping?

In 2019 Bees Abroad formalised a working relationship with Slow Foods International around collaborative working in Nigeria. Find out more about our relationship with the organisation Slow Food in Nigeria...

Read More >>

Informative and Inspiring Online Events

We ran three special online events to celebrate the theme of ‘Food, Beekeeping & Social Justice’. Two of the events are available on our YouTube channel.

Event 1: Sustainable Beekeeping, Food and Social Justice

Special guests Sarah Wyndham Lewis and Shane Holland shared their experiences with sustainable beekeeping, food production and social justice.

Sarah and Shane’s event picked off the campaign with an introduction to the main themes of sustainable beekeeping, sustainable food production and social justice including stories from communities they’ve worked with. Sarah shared an inspiring story on beekeeping in Copenhagen and Shane spoke about Slow Food in the UK and some of the projects they run, including working with some of the most underserved communities in the U.K. 

Event 2: Slow Food, Slow Beekeeping?

This event offered a unique opportunity working on Slow Food and beekeeping in Nigeria. This event included six speakers from across Bees Abroad communities in Nigeria.

Dr Modupe shared her story on founding the Emerald Forest Farm: restoring nature through organic farming and sustainable beekeeping. Elijah Asade, spokesperson for Abotokio Slow Food Beekeeping Community, shared how they are advocating for sustainable beekeeping including integrating it in to local school curricula.

Watch the event on YouTube to hear their full stories and hear from the other four speakers.

Supporter spotlight

We asked some of our supporters who donated to the Green Match Fund to share a few words with us..

Anthony

“I was glad to help your beekeeping cause with a donation. Your organization is doing great work especially by advancing beekeeping training to others. It is a noble cause. To reflect the giving mood I was in when made my donation I feel the attached picture sums it up. Thank you again for having offered your programs on your organization – I always enjoyed tuning in.”

Nadia

“It’s great news that BA have reached their target.

Why do I support BA: I like to invest my effort in every activity which I deem sustainable, and Bees Abroad is one of them: sustainable environmentally and financially.

Moreover, the team of volunteers is very good company!”

Catherine

“I found out about Bees Abroad though the BBKA magazine. Bees Abroad were advertising a zoom lecture on two bee related subjects. 

Since then I have received emails with the amazing work that the charity does for community’s and inspirational individuals though beekeeping. 

Beekeeping has given me a lot in various ways and I can only hope that by supporting Bees Abroad this will give others the help and support they need to become successful beekeepers and importantly leading to a sustainable livelihood.”

Excel Farmers Beekeeping Journey

Excel Farmers Beekeeping Journey

April 16, 2024

An hour and a half’s drive away from Ibadan, Nigeria’s third largest city, lives a village community home to the Excel beekeeping group. The Excel beekeeping group is a group of farmers turned beekeepers who received training from Bees Abroad nearly five years ago in July 2019. Since then, beekeeping has become as essential part of their livelihoods.

The Excel beekeepers shared their story with us. The rest of this blog is written by them:

Access to more Apiculture Networking

The beekeeping projects provided opportunities for members to network with other beekeepers and experts in the apiculture industry. The networking opened doors to other learning opportunities, access to new technologies and practices, and exchanging ideas and experiences with fellow beekeepers.

Some of Excel Beekeepers have been opportune to connect with a wider community of beekeepers, to stay updated with the latest trends and advancements in beekeeping. Members were present at the African Api-Expo Conference, A visit to Forest Research Institute of Nigeria, Margot Abayomi Memorial Evergreen (MAMIE) Foundation Forest, An insight into Slow Food Nigeria, Ministry of Agriculture Capacity Building, and others.

We covered the MAMIE foundation and the Emerald Forest in our last blog, you can read it here.

 

Additional and Increase in Individual & Group of income

Beekeeping is indeed a lucrative venture, providing an additional source of income for individuals and Excel group. Honey, beeswax, and other bee products are sold locally generating revenue. Also, the knowledge into making of hives and other tools have been used in rendering services to others upcoming beekeepers. Mr. Boluwaji, the group coordinator testified of generating huge income by rendering beekeeping services to people through the years –

“Beekeeping initiative has helped in diversifying my streams of income and promoting my farming experience. I managed apiary for not less that fifteen farmers, harvesting and processing for them as a paid service”.

Beekeeping Outreaches

Having enjoyed the benefits of modern beekeeping as thought by Bees Abroad, Excel Beekeepers has taken up a challenge of reaching out to more rural communities, including school children and local farmers of Oyo State to raise awareness about the importance of bees and their role in ecosystems, give beekeeping training to increase the knowledge base and encourage these communities to tap into the multi-floral richness of their environment.

Also adding the goal of tree planting for conservation efforts, to minimize the threats faced by bees. We believe that Community Beekeeping-Tree projects can contribute to the conservation of bees and their natural habitats. This outreach can also inspire others to take up beekeeping or adopt practices that promote bee-friendly environments.

A photo of some Excel Beekeeper members with community members of Okelagan Village as participants of the Beekeeping sensitization visit
A photo of some Excel Beekeeper members with community members of Okelagan Village as participants of the Beekeeping sensitization visit
A picture of some harvested maize from Mr Yuusuf’s farm
A picture of some harvested maize from Mr Yuusuf’s farm.

Increase in Crop Yield

Being a farming community, we’ve experienced that bees play a vital role in pollination, which is essential for the reproduction of many flowering plants and crops. A lot of our member introduced beekeeping into their farms and recorded significant increase in crop yield. Mr Yuusuf, a seasoned crop farmer shared an experience of his maize.

“My maize yield has indeed increased and sweeter in taste since the introduction of my personal apiary.”

The Excel beekeepers, beekeeping in Nigeria and the Green Match Fund

A big thank you to the Excel beekeepers for sharing their story with us. They shared much more, and we’ll be bringing more updates from them later in the year.

The Excel beekeeping group have shared some great examples of some of the themes we have been talking about in the ‘Food, Beekeeping and Social Justice’ campaign. They are based in Nigeria, one of the countries we are raising funds for in the Green Match Fund.

You can help communities like the Excel beekeepers in Nigeria. Your support can help remove barriers and create opportunities for communities, enabling them to empower themselves.

You can get your donation doubled until Thursday 25th April. One donation, double the impact for beekeeping communities.

A picture of some harvested maize from Mr Yuusuf’s farm
A photo of some Excel Beekeeper members with community members of Okelagan Village as participants of the Beekeeping sensitization visit

Social Justice and Beekeeping in Ghana

Social Justice and Beekeeping in Ghana

April 16, 2024

Atudorobesa Beekeepers, Ahafo Region, Ghana

Trisha Marlow, Partnership Manager for Ghana, sent this update on the 7th April 2024:

Yesterday I visited the women of Atudorobesa (gunpowder will end=peace) Beekeepers. They are currently patiently waiting for a final, much anticipated, batch of beehive kits as they have met the reporting and colonisation criteria needed for their supply. But – and this is a big but – for now our funds, like others for Ghana, are trapped in the chaos caused by the failure of sub-sea cabling and affecting much of West Africa.

At this time they have recently completed a harvest which they wanted to show me before it is marketed and over which they are rightly proud. I expressed my concern to Thomas their trainer after we left over the lowish price they expected to receive. Marketing skills often do not come naturally and there is of course a tendency to take the first deal offered when money is hard won – and much needed.

In many places in Ghana unregulated galamsey (smallscale gold mining) takes place. It destroys water courses and pollutes land with heavy metals and comes at a cost to health. But here the local people respected their land to provide them with food. 

In 2018 the Ghanaian government zoned large amounts of family and other farmland in this community for gold exploration, cutting off much of their independence in growing food and making them dependent on market prices – along with massive inflation there is a supply-demand premium locally. Let’s hear the account of some of the women affected.

Patricia

“In 2000 I bought one acre of land to grow plantain, cassava and cocoyam so I could support my four children myself including their schooling. I am a single parent.

In 2018 the govenment bought my land. Compensation has been proposed, I don’t know how much but nobody has had a single cedi from the EPA [Environment Protection Agency] or Newmont Gold to now.

 So I have 100 by 160 yard land to feed the family now. And sometimes I get 50 cedis [£3.30] a day as day labourer.

 I will use my honey money from this harvest to feed my children and buy some essential items. Beekeeping is so important for us now.”

Elizabeth

Elizabeth is married to the Supervisor – Kwame Appiah. The group chose the name for this wonderful man who along with the village carpenter have been really supportive of the women and their enterprise.

“I had five acres I farmed for 40 years from a child and grew cocoa and banana and yam. It was family land. When the government bought my land they did not pay, even now. We were lucky the children had completed school. Now buying food is hard as prices are higher as the market women know we do not have. 

The honey money will help to support the six grand-children as their parents have the same challenges as they also lost family land and independence to support the families.”

Atudorobesa women beekeepers see beekeeping as their financial future and are blessed through their commitment and forage with 95% colonisation. The land where the hives are is very good for bees, not gold for others to take. At the time of writing no prospecting has taken place in the five years and no cultivation or replanting is allowed at all.

Patricia says “The community leaders are fighting for us, talking with management at Newmont. We can still take plantain but that is all again”.

With the frustrating delays in supplying the third batch of beehives, caused by the failure of sub-sea cabling, the story is not complete for this project and continued support from Thomas will be in place until 2025.

Trisha Marlow

Partnership Manager for Ghana

Join us for a live event with Trisha Marlow, Ghana Partnership Manager

We are hosting a free event with Trisha Marlow on World Earth Day, April 22nd. Why not mark the day with us?

Join this event to learn more about beekeeping in Ghana as Trisha Marlow shares her fascinating experiences from her recent trips, including insights from the communities we work with. During Trisha’s recent visits she heard directly from beekeeping communities affected by climate change.

Climate change is already affecting communities around the world. In Ghana, floods have washed away apiaries in areas that have never flooded before, winds are blowing blossoms away before the trees have been pollinated and bees are changing their behaviour.

Emerald Forest Farm Reserve: How Beekeeping is Supporting Biodiversity

Emerald Forest Farm Reserve: How Beekeeping is Supporting Biodiversity

April 4, 2024
A photo of a group of beekeepers in bee suits in the Emerald Forest at the MAMIE Foundation project

The Origin of the MAMIE foundation and Emerald Forest

In 2004 a group of siblings with memories of growing up around nature in Nigeria purchased 300 acres of pristine rain forest with the aim of protecting it. Nigeria has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world, and with many pressures contributing to forest loss, the ambition to protect their forest was not an easy undertaking.

The siblings named the area ‘The Emerald Forest’ and registered a charity called the Margot Abayomi Memorial Evergreen (MAMIE) Foundation in memory of their mother. 

The siblings set out to protect this precious forest taking a holistic approach to food production, community well-being and forest protection, with beekeeping as an important tool in their multifaceted toolbox.

Aerial photo of the MAMIE Foundation Emerald Forest Farm Reserve, Nigeria. A river runs through green forest with some green patches of land visible
Forest (in green) and deforestation 2001-2023 (in pink) around the major city of Ibadan, Nigeria

Protecting the Emerald Forest

The Emerald Forest Farm Reserve is near the main city of Ibadan. In the 20 years that the siblings have owned the farm, they report that the surrounding areas have become barren the result of deforestation, illegal logging, poaching, unsustainable harvesting of forest goods and pollution, which are all major problems in the area.

With little habitat left, the Emerald Forest has become a sanctuary for local wildlife and could soon qualify for being designated as an important biodiversity and bird area. Pangolins, the world’s most trafficked wildlife species that are threatened with extinction, are one of the creatures that call the Emerald Forest home.

The MAMIE Foundation's approach to protecting the Emerald Forest

The MAMIE Foundation projects cover youth education, economic empowerment for rural people, promotion of organic farming, forest conservation, preservation of traditional art, batik dyeing, cultural food processing, eco-tourism, beekeeping & honey projects, medical out reaches, art & culture projects, and supporting the elderly. These projects are mainly based in the Emerald Forest Reserve (EFR) at Ikoyi-Osun.

“We have created small forest farms where we introduce various citruses, mangoes and pineapples in areas where the forest canopy is less dense”

Organic farming in the form of agroforestry and beekeeping are two of the main activities used to protect the Emerald Forest. In 2010 The Emerald Forest was designated as organic farmland and in

In 2014 MAMIE applied to Bees Abroad for assistance in beekeeping. Six months later, in July 2015, the local Bees Abroad representative, Mr. Babatunde Oreyemi, delivered the first beekeeping training.

 

A photo of a group of beekeepers in bee suits in the Emerald Forest at the MAMIE Foundation project
A photo of a group of beekeepers in bee suits in the Emerald Forest at the MAMIE Foundation project

Beekeeping in the Emerald Forest

Bees are very important to the ecology of the rain forest. By pollinating flowers, they play an essential role in producing seeds for the growth of new plants and the food chain in the forest. Traditionally, in the wild, beehives are usually established in tree hollows or on branches. MAMIE with support from Bees Abroad sponsored top bar beehives in the forest in 2015 as an additional income source for those who live in the forest, in particular women.

Bees Abroad beekeeping training was offered to all those connected to the Emerald Forest – employees and their wives and children, the local carpenter, the local iron smith, the farm electrician, the plumber and driver and one farmer from a neighbouring village. There were practical sessions for the carpenter and iron smith to make new hives, including the use of the mid-rib of palm-tree branches as hive bars.

How beekeeping strengthened the Emerald Forest Farm Reserve

Emerald Forest farm has noticed an increase in the harvest of palm nuts, pineapples and other food crops in the area since the introduction of beekeeping. These products are an important revenue stream – they are sold to maintain the income of the forest reserve community. Of course, the honey itself is also a revenue stream and is certified organic.

“We are producing organic forest honey, we have set up our own beehives in order to house the bees to produce the honey. The interesting thing about our forest honey is that it never tastes the same, each bottled honey has a different taste, even a different colour.”

Three years after taking up beekeeping with the support of Bees Abroad, it has become an integral part of the Emerald Forest Farm reserve activities. MAMIE presented their progress in beekeeping at the ApiExpo Africa 2018 conference in the capital, Abuja. They exhibited a modified hive with glass sides for educational and tourist activities that they use at the Emerald Forest farm. In January 2020 the Slow Food International Executive Committee officially recognized the MAMIE Emerald Forest Beekeeping community as an integral part of the Slow Food network.

MAMIE continue to invest in beekeeping and have planted more flowering plants in their agroforestry system such as sunflowers and other trees such as palms and citrus for the bees.

 

Join us for a live event with the MAMIE Foundation

Dr. Modupe, co-founder of the MAMIE Foundation that protects the Emerald Forest will be speaking at our live event!

Dr. Modupe will be speaking at our event ‘Slow Food, Slow Beekeeping?’. Are you interested in how beekeeping can be integrated into sustainable food production and used as an advocacy tool? This event is for you!

Join this event to hear directly from the team in Nigeria on their work on Slow Food and beekeeping.

Aerial photo of the MAMIE Foundation Emerald Forest Farm Reserve, Nigeria. A river runs through green forest with some green patches of land visible
Bottles of honey from the Emerald Forest, MAMIE foundation, surrounded by flowers

Slow Food, Slow Beekeeping?

Slow Food, Slow Beekeeping?

March 28, 2024

 

In 2019 Bees Abroad formalized a working relationship with Slow Food International around collaborative working in Nigeria. This relationship recognised the shared aims between the two organisations in particular around sustainable production that builds capacity to enable local people to improve livelihoods and, conserve the local environment.

About Slow Food and agriculture in Nigeria

The Slow Food movement started in Italy in the 1980s following the protest of the opening of the fast-food restaurant and a desire to save local food traditions and taste. Since then, the movement has gone global.

Agriculture is historically an important part of Nigeria’s economy. Up to the 1960s it was the main contributor to GDP. Although oil and gas has displaced its macro-economic importance, agriculture it’s still a major part of the economy and honey is being touted by some as a $10m export opportunity.

Around 70% of the population of Nigeria grow some kind of crop. Nigeria has an arable land area of roughly 36.9 million hectares, to put that into perspective, the total area of the UK is 24.5 million hectares. Farming is still dominated by smallholders with 80% of farmers being small holders, the same is true for beekeepers. Before the 1970s agriculture was taught in schools although it was dropped from formal education for a long time, it is increasingly being added back into the curriculum. Slow Food Nigeria are working to make guidance on sustainable small scale healthy food production widely available and Slow Food and Bees Abroad beekeeping communities are working to integrate sustainable beekeeping into the training and resources available to communities.

Slow Food has an initiative called 1000 Gardens for Africa (see video for more on this), in Nigeria they have a version for schools – the Slow Food School Garden Network which aims to reconnect youth with their food by teaching them how to grow, cook and enjoy real food. Through increased confidence, knowledge gain and skill building, the aim is to empower children to become active participants in their food choices. With the support of Bees Abroad, Slow Food Nigeria are adding beekeeping to this initiative to take beekeeping in to schools.

Abotokio beekeepers in Nigeria inspect a hive in lush green setting

Slow Food Beekeeping communities in Nigeria

Signing up as a Slow Food Beekeeping community shows a deep commitment to supporting and enabling sustainable beekeeping practices. We gave an overview of the environmental side of Bees Abroad’s approach to sustainability in our last blog. Being a Slow Food Beekeeping community means not only producing high-quality unadulterated honey and integrating good practice but advocating the approach with others too. 

The formalised relationship between Bees Abroad and Slow Food that came about in 2019 meant that members of the Bees Abroad beekeeping network in Nigeria could register as beekeeping communities with Slow Food. Beekeeping communities registered with Slow Food International commit to the Slow Food priorities on (bio)diversity, education and advocacy as applied to beekeeping. Communities sign up to this commitment because they believe in the cause, often because they themselves have seen the benefit to not just their livelihoods and quality of produce but for the local environment too.

One of the practises that Slow Food Beekeeping communities commit to is to act as a central coordinator and resource centre on information around sustainable beekeeping practises. These resource centres provide information on the conservation of the local environment, the advantages of bee pollination as natural way to increase crop yield, the dangers of inappropriate pesticide use and benefits of quality honey.

This is coordinated by Bees Abroad Nigeria team members, one of whom is Mr Elijah Asade.

Mr Asade – Slow Food Beekeeping advocate

The relationship between Slow Food and Bees Abroad is unique to our work in Nigeria and is driven by the communities and individuals we work with there.

Mr Elijah Asade is one of these individuals. Mr Asade is a graduate of Agricultural Education from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria. As a student he practiced beekeeping, building on knowledge gained of traditional beekeeping from his maternal Grandfather using locally produced pot-hives commonly used among the Ketu Indigenous People in Nigeria. In 2019 the Abotokio Agro Village Farmers Association, a group that Mr Asade is spokesperson for, received beekeeping training from Bees Abroad.

Mr Asade is the leader of the Advocacy thematic for Slow Food in Nigeria. Following the training he formerly registered his farmers association with Slow Food as ‘Abotokio Slow Food Beekeeping Community’. Mr Asade is a passionate advocate of Slow Food Beekeeping principles and practices and since 2019 he has supported eight beekeeping groups to register as Slow Food Beekeeping communities and extended his scope to Slow Food School Garden and Apiary Initiative for curriculum enrichment among the secondary schools in Ogun West.

Mr Asade has also taken his work on Slow Food Beekeeping international. In 2022 as part of his role as Advocacy leader for Slow Food Nigeria, Mr Asade participated in the Slow Food International conference. He shared how Slow Food communities in Nigeria, with the support of Bees Abroad, are using beekeeping as an advocacy tool. The presentation was on public display at the Activism Square in Terra Madre, Italy

Mr Asade, Advocacy lead for Slow Food Nigeria and passionate beekeeping advocate with Bees Abroad rides a motorbike in his bee suit
Slow Bee Advocacy on Curriculum Enrichment for the Secondary School Teachers organized by Abotokio Slow Food Beekeeping Community Abotokio NIGERIA at Owode Secondary School Owode Yewa Ogun State Nigeria on Thursday, 22nd December, 2022 led by Asade Elijah
Slow Bee Advocacy on Curriculum Enrichment for the Secondary School Teachers organized by Abotokio Slow Food Beekeeping Community Abotokio NIGERIA at Owode Secondary School Owode Yewa Ogun State Nigeria on Thursday, 22nd December, 2022 led by Asade Elijah

Success in Bees Abroad Slow Food Beekeeping communities

Bees Broad and Slow Food Nigeria’s partnership has been a successful one. In the four years since the formalisation of the relationship there have been some remarkable achievements.

These achievements include:

    • The inclusion of slow food principles and sustainable beekeeping in school curricula of eight local schools;
    • Securing a royal patron, Kabiyesi (traditional ruler), for the Abotokio slow food beekeeping community;
    • Working with the local government to incorporate slow food ideologies into the local economic well-being plan;
    • and the registration of eight new Slow Food Beekeeping communities since 2019.

 

We asked Mr Asade what the future priorities are for Slow Food and beekeeping in Nigeria. His response shows that Slow Food and Bees Abroad beekeeping communities are ambitious with their aims. They have some big topics to tackle including biosecurity and bee health management, crop pollination services, climate change mitigation, products packaging and branding and certification by the regulatory agencies.

Slow Food, Slow Beekeeping - live event coming soon!

This story is part of our Food, Sustainability and Social Justice campaign. Join us on the 18th of April at 18:00 for a live online event with the Bees Abroad Nigeria team to hear more about their work on Slow Food and sustainable beekeeping, including remarkable stories from projects such as the Emerald Forest.

The event is part of the Green Match fund campaign, we are aiming to raise £5,000 in donations to support projects in Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and Sierra Leone. You can find out more about what we aim to do with the funds in each of the countries on our campaign page.

Abotokio beekeepers in Nigeria inspect a hive in lush green setting
Mr Asade, Advocacy lead for Slow Food Nigeria and passionate beekeeping advocate with Bees Abroad rides a motorbike in his bee suit

How Bees Abroad’s approach supports the local environment

How Bees Abroad’s approach supports the local environment

March 22, 2024

Bees Abroad sustainable beekeeping: supporting the local environment

‘Food, Beekeeping and Social Justice’, that’s the title of our latest campaign for the Green Match Fund (GMF). This is the second year we have been accepted to take part in the GMF, a campaign that supports charities that play a role in influencing environmental issues.

We chose the theme of ‘Food, Beekeeping and Social Justice’, because the issues of the environment, food production and human wellbeing are intersectional and affect many communities we work with.

We have a holistic approach to sustainable beekeeping that covers the three pillars of sustainability: environment, social, economic. Enabling communities to continue the work after they graduate from our support is paramount and supporting the local environment is a key part of this. After all, the health of a bee colony, and quality of honey harvest is inextricable to the health of the local environment.

The upcoming Green Match Fund is a great opportunity to share more about the environmental side of our sustainable beekeeping approach.

Bees naturally increase food production

Many of the communities we work with have reported increases in crop yields after taking up beekeeping. Bees Abroad supported research on the effects of beekeeping on crop production with a local partner in India. The study found that beekeepers with Cerana boxes saw a 282% increase in cashew production compared to the control group. You can read the full report here.

Another example of this comes from Rwenzori rural talent, a farming community on the slopes of the snow-capped Rwenzori mountains in Uganda. One of the many crops this community grows is coffee. After taking up beekeeping following training from us, they reported around 20% increase in their coffee yields, which is in line with research on the effects of beekeeping on coffee production. We wrote about this in the green campaign last year, you can find the full story on our blog.

Providing forage for bees to ensure good honey production and reduce pressure on existing forage that other pollinators may depend on is an important part of our approach to sustainable beekeeping.

Improving the local environment by providing forage

We work with rural communities but in some of the locations the local environment has been significantly degraded. Local environment degradation is often the result of an acute need to earn income to meet basic human needs for example cutting down trees to sell or use as firewood for cooking. In these locations there may not be enough forage to produce a good quantity or quality of honey and the introduction of beekeeping would pressurise an already struggling environment. In these cases, we will adapt our core training to include recommendations on how to improve forage, such changes to the crop mix to have crops that flower at different times or planting bee friendly flowers and trees.

Not all project locations are environmentally degraded, some are verdant and rich in vegetation and forage, in these locations, activities around providing forage for bees may not be necessary.

Locally appropriate

A locally appropriate approach is at the heart of what we do.  Related to forage availability, we will only approve new projects if it doesn’t put undue pressure on the local environment and existing beekeepers and only approve projects with appropriate aims for apiary size.

Forage is one of the many factors that affect what beekeeping practices are best for a particular environment. The eco-regions of the locations the communities we work with vary significantly, from mountain slopes to tropical rainforest to semi-arid regions. The eco-regions effect the timing and number of harvests appropriate for the location. We use trusted local trainers who understand the local conditions and can provide specific, tailored advice on beekeeping specific to the area.

Improving the local environment by providing ecological training

Practices like slash and burn, honey hunting and use of pesticides are unfortunately sometimes used by members of the communities we work with, or by others in the area. As well as training on forage awareness where necessary, we will provide information on the impact of these practices on beekeeping and the local environment.

 Our trainers are often passionate advocates, for example, Daniel, one of lead trainers in Uganda has spoken to the National Park about their slash and burn practices. He has also reached out to the local government entomologist to advocate for bees and other pollinators, as their work often focuses on pest control to the detriment of pollinating insects.

It’s not just the trainers who are passionate about this, many community members become proactive advocates for bee-friendly practices that benefit the local environment. We will share an example of a community doing this in Nigeria later in the campaign.

Sustainable hives

Building bee hives is obviously a critical aspect of our work. Offering options for hive types, and options for production needs to be appropriate to the area and offer a solution that can work long after the projects have graduated from our support. 

Hive production is a big topic and deserves its own article. We are working on said article and look forward to sharing more of this aspect of our work.

Food, Beekeeping and Social Justice

We’ll be sharing more on our work on the theme of Food, Sustainability and Social Justice throughout this campaign. Stay tuned for more!

We are aiming to raise £5,000 in donations to support projects in Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and Sierra Leone. You can find out more about what we aim to do with the funds in each of the countries on our campaign page.

You can have your donation DOUBLED April 18-25. Any donations via the Big Give platform for one week from Thursday 18th to Thursday 25th of April will be matched by the Big Give foundation. You can turn £10 in to £20, £25 in to £50, £500 in to £1,000, you get the idea! One donation, double the impact. We can only provide support to the communities we work with because of your generosity.  

Excel Beekeeper members with community members of Okelagan Village as participants of the Beekeeping sensitization visit

This Beekeeper Can – Campaign Summary

'This Beekeeper Can' campaign, Christmas Big Give 2023

January 5, 2024
Big Give 2023 wrap up blog header image with a heart shaped photo of farmers and beekeepers on crutches in a field in Sierra Leone. The text reads "This Beekeeper Can" - Christmas Big Give 2023
Four women of The Hive, Tanzania standing outside. Two of them have Albinism. They are all holding wheels of bees wax

This Beekeeper Can - Bringing it together

What an exciting campaign full of events, stories and competitions! This year our campaign theme was ‘This Beekeeper Can’ a play on the Nike ‘This Girl Can’. The aim of this campaign was to raise funds to support marginalised groups through beekeeping and showcase some of their incredible achievements.

With so much going on, we wanted to bring it all together here to celebrate achievements, provide links to things you might have missed and hopefully get you excited about what we’re up to next!  

The Big Give Christmas Campaign – thank you!

Bees Abroad’s Big Give 2023 campaign was a great success! We raised 102% of our target, thank you!

Not only that but our case study on the campaign won a further £2,000 in unrestricted funds from the Big Give!

We shared some truly amazing stories and held two inspiring and informative events. You can catch-up on all of that below.

The image shows bee farmers on crutches in a field in Sierra Leone. The campaign logo, which is the words 'This Beekeeper Can' is overlaid on the image. A second text overlay reading 'We hit the target! Thank you' is displayed under the logo

'This Beekeeper Can' Stories

We shared seven inspiring stories from individuals and communities we work with in the run-up to and during the campaign. These stories really are incredible. Read about the progressive women beekeepers of Nigeria bouncing back from deliberate hive vandalism, how footballers on crutches became beekeepers on crutches in Sierra Leone and the emotional and heartwarming story of the women of The Hive, Tanzania. 

Elizabeti’s story

From the desperate terror of running for her life with her baby boy, Elizabeti is now a brave advocate for women and children with albinism. She has overcome persecution, adversity...

Read More >>

Ambassadors of Hope

How the 'Hive Mama's' became ambassadors for albinism and created a thriving social enterprise by taking bees wax from waste to premium product.

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Crimes of Colour, a Ray of Hope

Rachel Monger, Partnership Manager for Tanzania, shares first-person accounts from women with albinism and why having albinism can lead to marginalisation and persecution in Tanzania.

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The unstoppable women beekeepers in Nigeria

Amidst the challenges of gender inequality in Nigeria, the Ori-eru (Iwo) progressive beekeepers have created a thriving enterprise based on self-reliance and collaboration. This group of self-organizing Muslim women are...

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Accessible beekeeping in Sierra Leone

What does accessible beekeeping mean in Sierra Leone? The Bees Abroad workshop help answer questions such as what is the right height for a hive for someone with an amputation,...

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Sierra Leone: beekeepers on crutches

The civil war in Sierra Leone left an estimated 27,000 people with an amputation or disability. It's often assumed that amputees can't contribute to society but there's a group smashing...

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Informative and Inspiring Online Events

We were lucky enough to have three amazing guest speakers do events with us. We ran events to celebrate the theme of ‘This Beekeeper Can’.We ran two events on this theme.

Accessible Beekeeping: History and Practices 

The first event was “Accessible Beekeeping: History and Practices”. At this event our guest speaker, Justin Ruger, the founder of the US based charity, Accessible Beekeeping shared the history of accessible beekeeping, his personal journey, and the practicalities of beekeeping with a disability. 

The Transformative Power of Beekeeping

For our second online event we were joined by two guest speakers.

Sarah Wyndham Lewis, author and co-founder of Bermondsey Street Bees, shared a remarkable tale from Greece where beekeeping revived an isolated rural community.

Our second guest speaker, Stephen Douglas, founder of Pure Buzzin’, shared heart-warming stories of inclusive beekeeping from North Tyneside.

Image shows the phrase '7 days, 7 prizes' with heart shaped photos of three of the prizes

Seven Days, Seven Prizes - Prize Draw

Each day of the Big Give week, we randomly selected a donor who gave to our campaign that day to receive a prize!  To be eligible, you simply had to donate to the Big Give and opt-in to communications.

What was up for grabs? 

1. Bee Our Guest – Overnight stay at The Royal Lancaster 
2. The Ritz Afternoon Tea – afternoon tea for two at The Ritz, London 
3. The Hive, Selfridges Afternoon Tea – afternoon tea for two at The Hive, Selfridges
4. Nidhoggr Mead – A bottle of traditional mead from Nidhoggr Mead Company
5. Borough Market treats – A Jute bag and cook book from Borough Market 
6. MightyFine Hamper – A tasty chocolate gift box from Mighty Fine
7. Signed copy of “Buzz” – A signed copy of “Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bee” by biologist and award-winning author Thor Hanson

A big Bees Abroad thank you to our Prize Draw donors!

Prize Draw donors

'This Beekeeper Can' on display

A big thank you to the businesses who helped us spread the word that ‘This Beekeeper Can’. Lots of businesses kindly put our campaign postcards and bookmarks on display, some of them include Provision in Bermondsey, From Field and Flower in Borough Market and Morocco Bound Cafe

Bee Part of The Green Story – Campaign Summary

Bee Part of The Green Story 2023 - The Wrap Up

June 9, 2023

The Green Story - Bringing it together

What an exciting month of events, stories and competitions! This year we ran our first Green Story campaign celebrating the relationships between bees, nature and people. The Bee Part of the Green Story kicked off with the Big Give Green Match Funds week on the April 20th, celebrating World Earth Day (22 April 2023) and ran through to World Bee Day on the May 20th 

With so much going on, we wanted to bring it all together here to celebrate achievements, provide links to things you might have missed and hopefully get you excited about what we’re up to next!  

The Big Give Green Match Fund – thank you!

This campaign we participated in the Green Matched Funds campaign. The Green Match Fund accepts projects dedicated to solving environmental challenges and we were thrilled that the Big Give foundation recognised our environmental efforts.

Our Green Give week focused on raising funds for the new Elephants and Bees project in Masindi, Uganda, which uses beehive fences to protect farmers crops from raiding by elephants, thereby reducing human-wildlife conflict. We had a target of £5,000 which was reached with a day to spare and doubled to £10,000 by the Big Give Foundation. A fantastic effort! An elephantsized thank-you to all who supported this!  

The Green Stories

Each week of the campaign we also shared a green story from our projects. These snappy blog posts are a great way to get to know our work more and how our projects help support the local environment. Be sure to go back and read them if you missed it!

Bees Abroad 2023 Photography Competition

Another first for Bees Abroad in the Green Story was our Photography Competition, in which we partnered with Wildlife Photographic, one of the world’s leading wildlife photography magazines. The theme ‘Bees in Nature’ attracted entries from all over the World: U.K., U.S.A., Singapore, Hong Kong, Bulgaria, and more! We were blown away with the variation and high standard of entries.

You can see the winning photo and read the story behind it here. Watch this space, as we will be sharing all the incredible images with you! 

Book Events, Talks and Honey Tasting!

To celebrate the Green Story we ran four events, two online, which you can rewatch, and two in-person.  

‘Buzz’ with Thor Hanson: An online World Earth Day event

The Green Story started off with a bang with an online event for World Earth Day with author, Thor Hanson. His talk was on the nature and necessity of bees, drawing from his book ‘Buzz’. Thor brought his skills together as a biologist, author and public speaker to deliver an event that was so engaging it felt like we were in the room with him, not thousands of miles away from him as he joined from a conference in the USA!

‘Developments in Sustainable Beekeeping’ online talk and discussion

For the second online event in the Green Story, we were joined by Professor Adam Hart and author Sarah Wyndham Lewis, both of whom are passionate about sustainable beekeeping and have first-hand experience in the matter.

Sarah drew on the depth of her personal experience and material from her books ‘Planting for honeybees and The Wild Bee Handbook to deliver an informative talk on the role of beekeeping and beekeepers in the context of the ecological challenges we face. Adam continued the theme but took us over the ocean to Mexico and the explosion of stingless beekeeping following the near collapse and how its reignited popularity is causing challenges.

World Bee Day events

World Bee Day Luncheon at the Wax Chandlers’ Hall, London

For World Bee Day, we invited our guests to celebrate ‘The Value of Bees and Honey’ at the Wax Chandlers’ Hall, London. The menu was creatively themed around bees and honey and the afternoon, hosted by our patron Timothy Maille, Master of the Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers, featured guest speakers, Anne Rowberry and Professor Dave Goulson. The event was a wonderful opportunity to share about our ongoing work. Read the full story here.

Honey Tasting with Sarah at Hiver taproom, London

On World Bee Day (20 May) guests were treated to a Honey Tasting with author and Honey Sommelier Sarah Wyndham-Lewis at the Hiver Taproom in London. The event featured honey from Bees Abroad four different project countries:  Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda. Each country has its own unique flora and eco-regions which affect the colour, texture and taste of honey. Read the full story here.

Bees Abroad community celebrations and fundraising events

Betty our youngest bee advocate

The wonderful Betty has been fundraising and spreading awareness for Bees Abroad. Betty persuaded her whole class to raise funds for us and was recently interviewed on her local BBC Radio station for World Bee Day.

Inner Wheel fundraising event

The Inner Wheel ladies in Barnsley held a fundraising event with special guest speaker, Richard Ridler, our chair of trustees. Julie from Inner Wheel expressed her thanks and told us what they got up to “Richard was an amazing speaker & great ambassador for Bees Abroad. We had everything bee-themed… All our Inner Wheel ladies worked extremely hard & we raised more than £1,000” A big thank you to all who participated in the event!

Royal Lancaster partnership

The Royal Lancaster raised awareness and funds for Bees Abroad through their “Bee Our Guest” hotel package. And the amazing beekeeper and Corporate Sales Director, Jo Hemesley donned her bee suit in the hotel lobby with a beautiful display on World Bee Day to meet with guests and talk about the Royal Lancaster hives which are twinned with Bees Abroad project hives.

Grifter Brewing honey-beer fundraising

We have news from Down Under! A brewery in Australia, The Grifter Brewing Company, brewed a honey beer “Queen Bee” for International Women’s Day which has been on sale for the past few months. A percentage of the sales were donated to us, raising over £2,000 for Bees Abroad projects!

World Bee Day - Prize Draw

Our World Bee Day Prize draw  featured seven amazing prizes including an overnight stay for two at the Royal Lancaster and afternoon tea for four at the Ritz!We received this message from the winners of the Royal Lancaster prize: 

“So very very excited with this amazing surprise win. Thank you Bees Abroad. Urszula & Tony”.

If you missed out this time, be sure to keep an eye out for our next Prize Draw. 

The Green Story supporters

A Trailer for The Green Story

The Green Story trailer

April 19, 2023

The Green Story & Binti the Bee

Welcome to the world of Binti, a busy little bee in sub-Saharan Africa. 

The Bee and the Elephant

One morning, as Binti is flying over the beautiful Ugandan landscape,  where fields border a wildlife reserve, she notices a problem: elephants are raiding farmers’ crops.  In just one night, these gentle giants can eat or destroy a whole season’s harvest of food,  posing a threat to the food security of the community.

Sometimes, in desperation, farmers resort to killing elephants to protect their crops. Binti wants to help and decides to work with the farmers with beehives on fences bordering their fields. The elephants are afraid of bees, just the sound and sight of them can turn them away. Binti and the bees are happily keeping the peace between elephants and farmers.

We have joined the Big Give Green Match Fund Campaign to help set up exactly such a project in Masindi, Uganda. You can help us achieve it by pressing the button below to double your donation.

The Bee and the Bean

Impressed by Binti’s dedication, the farmers invite her to join the other bees in their pollinating team. Binti and her fellow bees visit the farmers’ field pollinating their crops of beans and cotton, tomatoes and pumpkins, helping increase the yield.  

The Bee and the Tree

Next, Binti flies off to a traditional African beehive set up by a local community in the forest. Here, she joins other bees in pollinating the flowers of different local trees. In doing so, the bees help to grow the forest and provide food and habitat for other species. Binti then visits a tree village nursery where she explores different trees that are being grown for fruit, shade, firewood and live fences by the beekeeping community which helps further strengthen the local environment. 

The Bee and the Honey

At the end of a busy day Binti returns to her hive where she helps to make honey.  Some of the honey is carefully collected by a beekeeper who uses it not only for income and food, but also for its health benefits. The beekeeper explains how honey can help with wounds and illness due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Follow us on social media or sign-up to our newsletter to hear more about Binti the Bee’s story. We’ll be sharing one story per week from the 20th April to the 20th May.

Want to #BeePartofTheGreenStory? This is week all donations are being doubled by the BigGive Green Match!   Donate below and sign up to one of or Green Story events