How can we measure the success of beekeeping projects?

A Case Study of a Cluster of Three Diverse Poverty Relief Projects and Their Local Lead NGO in Kasese, Western Uganda

Bees Abroad presented a paper on Monday 9 September at Apimondia, the bi-annual international beekeeping conference, held in Montreal, Canada. Jane Ridler described a study which was designed to test an approach to establishing participant led outcomes for beekeeping projects.

Too many beekeeping projects are reported to have failed. Success is difficult to assess, and objective measurements can be simplistic. Success is best defined by the participants themselves.

This paper presents a methodology for establishing success criteria of poverty relief beekeeping projects which could be used as a template for projects in other localities.
Jane described a case study of a beekeeping course in Western Uganda attended by three diverse poverty relief projects, how they defined success and how measurements might be made.

The methodology used was a group interview, conducted in a discursive classroom environment and incorporated into a 2-day residential beekeeping course. There were three representatives from each of three beekeeping projects, initiated by Bees Abroad. One was a women’s group, another a youth development group and the third a group of already established beekeepers benefiting from further development. A fourth group, with more of an overview, were the representatives from our delivery partner NGO, LIDEFO. The twelve participants represented a social, gender, age and educational cross section. All discussions were conducted both in English and the local language. The groups established their aims and objectives, differing in detail, but with many similarities. They then described ways that they, or others, could assess the achievement of each criterion, or if it was impractical or immeasurable.

From the study we suggest that a combination of quantitative and qualitative measurements that are defined by and can be measured by the participants themselves would best achieve the assessment of the success of a project. Examples of the former could be numbers/condition of hives or quantity of honey/products sold. One or more would be chosen and recorded on report sheets by the local leaders or beekeepers themselves, as appropriate. The interpretive measures of success, which really matter to people- whether children can be sent to school, or health improved, can only be achieved by questioning and observation of change in living conditions. A simple survey sheet could be produced, generated at the start of the specific project, for a suitable sample of participants.

Jane said, “our projects will be more successful if they are designed with a good understanding of what the participants want”. Bees Abroad has gathered many good stories about the impact of its projects on the lives of participants as projects progress. However, it expects that finding out what participants want before projects start and designing projects accordingly will be an improvement. An essential part of the changes Bees Abroad plans to make will be to ask project participants to measure and report on their progress against the criteria they have selected.

The study found that ‘getting lots of honey’ and ‘becoming trained’ were among the first two outcomes suggested. After that came love, unity and co-operation, job opportunities, crop pollination and the environmental importance of bees. Typically, honey is sold to pay for education, medicines and household essentials.

The study was carried out over two short days in February 2019 in Kasese, Western Uganda. We thank the representatives from the Kiringa United Beekeepers, the Kinyamaseke Youth in Development, the Women Resource Centre for Community Development and the Liberty Development Foundation who gave their time to support Bees Abroad in this study.

Bees Abroad are world leaders in the practical relief of poverty through beekeeping.

The Women’s Beekeeping Project, Monze, Zambia: a report on progress

40 women in Zambia have finished their first year of learning modern beekeeping practices with Bees Abroad (BA) and it was a sweet success! Learning beekeeping can be an extremely useful skill, specifically for these women who live in Monze District, which is one of Zambia’s least developed areas with high poverty levels. The majority of the women participating in this project are subsistence farmers—living off of what they produce themselves—and many are widowed or unmarried. Since the average household is 8 dependent members, they have their work cut out for them as they try to feed their families while coping with climate challenges.

This is where beekeeping comes in!

Crop failure, an all too common sight

Crop failure, an all too common sight

The Project

Bees Abroad is working with the Sustainable Rural Development Agency (SRDA), based in Monze District, to train and support these women in adding hive products to their farm yields. Phase 1 of the project itself started with one group of 40 women split into two groups who were carefully chosen to receive training. Phase 2 trained a second group of 40 and Phase 3, subject to further funding, will train the final group of 40 women. BA helped each group set up an apiary of eight hives and equipped them with a smoker, protective gear, gum boots, and food-grade airtight containers.

Meeting with SRDA director, Phillip Nsakilwa
Meeting with SRDA director, Phillip Nsakilwa

The goal of the project is to equip these communities with beekeeping skills to generate some income, teach them the necessary business skills to make their enterprises sustainable and profitable, and improve their environment and crop yield through pollination.

As the SRDA’s regular project visits have reported, the first phase of the project was a success! The four objectives for the groups were being achieved: each group had hives that were colonised, members that were able to work with and harvest the honey, had made honey sales which generated useful income and the income was being used wisely by each group to develop or begin new enterprises. There were challenges with the second group, who were not quite so successful, but interim training is helping to strengthen.

A well constructed apiary

Overcoming Challenges

In recent years, crop yields have fallen drastically: 38% in the last 8 years. The reason: drought. Anyone visiting Monze District would be struck by the visible effects of reduced rainfall and the resulting crop failures. Most subsistence farmers in the area grow only maize which, unfortunately, is very dependent on rainfall. For that reason it is imperative that these farmers diversify their crops and adopt new agricultural methods.

When BA’s project manager Stuart Andrews visited Zambia in May, local farmers had already started to grow other crops besides maize, such as cassava and millet, and some were also involved with other activities including beekeeping and fish farming.

Looking back on an apiary through a living fence!
Looking back on an apiary through a living fence!

Embracing crop diversification also means increased need for pollinators and BA includes how to improve crop yields through pollination in their training.

In situations of extreme poverty, honey production not only provides some income, it also increases food security. During his project visit, Stuart Andrews spoke to local clinicians and aid workers who are very concerned about food security and are extremely interested in this project, especially as its success is not directly dependent on rainfall.

Priming the top bars with melted bees wax
Priming the top bars with melted bees wax

Next steps

Funding is secured for Phase 1 and 2 and ten new top-bar hives have already been purchased and are currently being stored, waiting to go onto SRDA’s new training apiary site which will provide practical beekeeping training for groups across the Monze district. Stuart is still raising funds for Phase 3 and beyond which will hopefully include a new honey processing plant to be built on the site of SRDA’s training apiary to serve the project beneficiaries as well as other beekeepers in the area.

Ladies of the Haamupande group
Ladies of the Haamupande group

As for the project itself, work has already started on Phase 2, beginning with recruiting new groups to set up apiaries and be trained in beekeeping. Meanwhile, work is continuing with the project’s initial groups of women across the Monze District.

Here’s to the next two years of this project and the goal of developing sustainable sources of income for these impoverished communities!

A swarm of bees in an apiary
A swarm of bees in an apiary

One of the hives in the training apiary

One of the hives in the training apiaryThe site (on the left) of SRDA’s proposed new training apiary and honey processing plant

The site (on the left) of SRDA’s proposed new training apiary and honey processing plant

 

Annual Project Report 2018

Welcome to our 2018 Annual Report
Thank you for your interest in Bees Abroad. We hope you enjoy reading about our
project work and find this publication engaging and informative. We strive to improve
the way we communicate with our supporters; we would value your feedback about
this publication.

Our Mission
Our focus is the relief of poverty through beekeeping. We promote locally appropriate
methods to generate income, enhance livelihoods, alleviate poverty and improve the
quality of life of our project participants.

Our team of volunteer experienced beekeepers develop and support local partners
who deliver our projects in the most deprived rural communities worldwide.

Bees Abroad Annual Report 2018

A Beekeeping Course for the Murambo Beekeepers

A Beekeeping Course for the Murambo Beekeepers Catherine Ridler October 2018

The four-day residential course was run by Daniel Ngangasi and Simon Byongo from LIDEFO (Liberty Development Foundation) in Kasese some 220km from the homes of the Murambo beekeepers. It was part of an ongoing development project for them. Bees Abroad have built up a close relationship with Daniel and Simon and they provided an outline of what the course should contain. Daniel and Simon produced the course programme and taught a great course which included classroom and practical beekeeping sessions. It was the first such course run by LIDEFO.

Daniel teaching

Bees Abroad paid the course fees, accommodation, food and travel for the attendees. This was effective in removing barriers for people so they were able to attend the course and resulted in a really enthusiastic group.

An individual presentation

The group consisted of four pairs of attendees from small local beekeeping groups in the Murambo district plus two individuals representing other groups and the district coordinator, Ezra Sigirenda. The aim was for them to take the knowledge acquired on this course and disseminate it amongst the other beekeepers in their local area. They were a keen group – we started the morning session 10 minutes ahead of schedule every day! They were very focused on learning and all took copious notes and photographs.

Lunchtime

The attendees arrived on the Monday evening on the local bus after a full day’s travel. Well cooked local food was provided by the hotel. Notepads and pens were provided to all of the attendees and their first task was to write an introduction to themselves and their beekeeping experience to be presented the next morning.

Investigating an empty top bar hive

The course started with breakfast on Tuesday and moved directly on to the individual presentations. About half of the attendees were from beekeeping families. Many were using traditional basket hives, with some using Kenyan Top Bar Hives. They wanted to learn how to increase their honey production by adding more hives, managing their bees better and dealing with diseases.

Filtering Honey

Daniel spent the sessions teaching about beekeeping, such as differences between the queen, workers and drones while integrating the business information such as the amount of space needed to create an apiary and how much honey and therefore money could result from a fairly small area.

The final session of the afternoon was a small group discussion of the questions ‘what has fuelled the development of beekeeping in your community?’ and ‘how will you make changes that will promote beekeeping as a business?’

Group discussion

The practical element of the course was taught by Simon. This included how to filter honey, how to melt the wax and an introduction to Kenyan Top Bar Hives.

There was a group apiary visit and a visit to LIDEFO’s honey storage and bottling room and some hands-on bottling practice.

Apiary visit

I hope that this course has encouraged the attendees to take both small steps such as clearing vegetation around their apiaries and larger steps such as starting to set up beekeeping co-operative groups in their areas with a view towards producing commercially saleable honey.

Group with certificates at the end of the course

Success at BBKA National Honey Show

Bees Abroad Projects Win 1st, 2nd and 3rd Prizes in New Charity Class at National Honey Show

Bees Abroad are world leaders in the practical relief of poverty through beekeeping. As soon as we knew the National Honey Show was to have a new class for charities working with beekeepers we realised we could showcase the gorgeous honey produced by the beekeepers we are working with overseas. Honey from twelve projects entered for judging at the UK National Honey Show in October 2018. The winning entry was from Liberia, where we partnered with the Universal Outreach Foundation which trains communities as beekeepers “so more Liberians can have the dignity that comes with being able to provide for their families’ needs.” The 2nd prize was awarded to our entry from Kenya. This UK government funded project given an A+ evaluation by the UK assessors benefits over 1200 households. The 3rd prize was won by the entry from our local project delivery partner in Western Uganda the Liberty Development Foundation. The lead judge explained that the criteria used were aroma, taste and viscosity; he was delighted that there were so many excellent entries. Richard Ridler, Bees Abroad Chairman, said ‘these wins are a huge endorsement for the very practical help our volunteers give to people in low-income communities around the world to learn hands-on beekeeping, high-quality honey production and business skills to generate income and improve their lives’. Bees Abroad are world leaders in the practical relief of poverty through beekeeping.

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 Biosphere 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