This project is part of a community development scheme run by two missionaries – Rachel and Tim Monger, who work alongside the Tanzania Assembiles of God Church, supporting conservation agriculture, beekeeping, tree planting, rural health and women’s groups. The project is engaged in two villages – Kayenze and Malya.
With support from the mission in the UK, each group was set up with twelve hives. The hives were ‘purchased’ by the group giving two kilograms of honey from each productive hive from the first two harvests, whilst the ‘land rental’ to the landowner was agreed at one kilogram per hive. The group would build any additional hives that they wanted, although no site would exceed ten hives. The beekeeping group had a Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer – all done by ballot.
To date, the groups have been taught the fundamentals of beekeeping; the types of hive appropriate to the location, finding appropriate sites and baiting and placing hives. Siting hives is vital as it is believed that the smokers used by beekeepers have led to forest fires, so open ground is preferred. The site has to be away from where people regularly work as disturbed bees can be very angry.
It is vital to get the hanging of the hives exactly right….or the honey will be lost to ants and honey badgers. Theft is only a very minor problem as the societies are close-knit. Hives have to be hung on greased wires to deter ants. Honey badgers are hunted for food.
Away from the bees, the group have learnt how to process hive products, and make creams and candles (using moulds). Training has been given on making bee suits from maize sacks and with mosquito netting veils.
Into the future
This project has huge potential. Rachel Monger is rapidly developing her beekeeping skills, and the couple plan to run a number of beekeeping projects, with training support from Bees Abroad. It will make a big difference to the lives of the local people.