The unstoppable women beekeepers in Nigeria
Gender equality in Nigeria
Nigeria’s progress on gender equality is a mixed bag, in some areas Nigeria is a top performer, such as legal frameworks that promote, enforce and monitor gender equality. However, overall Nigeria has a low ranking in gender equality placing 139 out of 156 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index.
What does this mean for the reality of being a woman in Nigeria? Though there are success stories such as the recent election of Bolanle Ajayi as the deputy speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly, finding quality work to make a sustainable living is more of a challenge for women.
Self-organizing for Success
Amidst these challenges, the Ori-eru (Iwo) progressive beekeepers have emerged as a beacon of hope. This group of Muslim women, facing the difficulties of securing employment, decided to take matters into their own hands. United by a mission of self-reliance and mutual support, they embraced beekeeping as a means to empower themselves economically.
Diversifying Skills and Building Resilience
The group, with diverse skills ranging from farming to tailoring, identified beekeeping as a valuable addition. A former Bees Abroad trainee sensitised the group to beekeeping. The Ori-eru beekeepers have not only sustained their enterprise but expanded it significantly from an initial 5 hives to 43 hives.
A key aspect of their success lies in a collaborative approach to production and sales. While each member tends to a specific number of hives, the women work together to produce high-quality bee products under a single label. The profits are then reinvested or distributed among the group, fostering sustainable growth.
Burned hives, fire in the belly
In 2023, tragedy struck when their apiary was raided and hives destroyed by fire, reflecting the broader economic challenges in Nigeria. Undeterred, the Ori-eru beekeepers responded with determination.
They recognised the need to solve this problem quickly; essentially to replace hives in time to attract local swarms to restock hives. If they could rebuild and relocate their apiary by the start of the local swarming season, they stood a good chance of harvesting sufficient honey to recover lost income.
The group took this setback in their stride… They salvaged what they could and set to work devising a solution. However, their assessment was they only had sufficient reserves to replace 10 hives – an insufficient number to generate an adequate level of income for the group. They reached out to Bees Abroad, presenting a video outlining their situation and needs.
Innovative Solutions and Rapid Recovery
Bees Abroad swiftly responded by funding 25 replacement hives. The Ori-eru beekeepers, showcasing resilience and innovation, built and sited these hives in record time. The new location is secluded and un-disclosed. For good measure the group also reinforced the hives with chains and padlocks. As of November 7th, 8 out of the 25 Bees Abroad sponsored hives are colonised.
This is a significant high rate of colonisation, which reflect the fact that the group made a great choice in beekeeping as an activity for income generation. In their area, bees are like flies! The group continue to monitor, clean, re-bait and invite bees to occupy empty hives.
This Beekeeper Can
If you want to support Girl Power and beekeeping groups like the Ori-eru progressive beekeeper’s we have a great opportunity…
From the 28th November for one week all donations will be doubled – one donation, double the impact.
We can’t do what we do without your support, so thank you!
This story is part of a series of stories we will be sharing over the next weesk as we celebrate the campaign ‘This Beekeeper Can’. Stay tuned to hear more stories, join our events or enter our prize draw.