Meet the wonderful Baraka Beekeepers Group, another Bees Abroad project that you have the opportunity to sponsor this World Bee Day! Earlier this month, this exciting new project was launched with an inaugural two-day workshop at Mzee Lelei Farm near Eldoret in Uasin Gishu county in Kenya.
On April 5-6, 29 of the 34 members of the group gathered with two trainers from our Kenya partner NGO, Cera who delivered the initial training.
After an introduction to beekeeping, they covered the basics of the craft itself as well as the benefits beekeeping can bring such as value-added hive products, increased crop yields and protection and care of the environment.
The training also covered the subject of hive types and the importance of choosing a type that is both appropriate and affordable.
The group already has an apiary with four Kenyan top bar hives on some land belonging to one of the members. Two of these hives were gifted and the other two were self-funded by the group. Although these hives have been in-situ for some time they are yet to be colonised so the reasons for this were investigated and actions implemented.
They discussed group governance, group dynamics and group development and learned about baseline data collection to help to benchmark and monitor project progress and results.
The participants were very positive and enthusiastic and are looking forward to the second round of training workshops, which will be held during the third week of May.
Please consider supporting this project which will benefit over 150 participants and many more dependents, for World Bee Day. Your sponsorship will make a difference!
Meet Merioth (in blue above) showcasing her value added hive products.
Merioth trained in ‘value added products’ at the Nairobi Beekeeping Institute and through the mentoring of Bees Abroad Merioth now shares her expertise – training community groups in Kenya in ‘hive value addition’.
Merioth has her own honey business, ‘Nomo’, that sells honey, hive products and beekeeping equipment. She also provides consultancy services to private beekeepers.
Helping to create empowered women entrepreneurs is a central tenet of Bees Abroad philosophy. In a previous blog we introduced another one of our wonderful entrepreneurs, Grace, with her honey shop in Old Shoe Lane in Kasese, Uganda.
Merioth and Grace are only two examples of women beekeepers who have found that beekeeping has unleashed hidden talents in developing and growing their own businesses. Keep an eye out for more of our Bees Abroad entrepreneurs in future updates.
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.
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.
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 www.mannlake.com to Bee Products Enterprise Development. We are grateful to them for their support.
Here are photos of Sinyati women’s group as they exhibited during the Baringo county Honey Conference (26-28 June 2014) which was attended by 500 people and presided over by the County Governor Hon. Benjamin Chebo. In the photos, he is looking at the products on the stand.
It was only the group which the Governor mentioned as a good example in the county successfully doing value-addition with their honey production. Sinyati women group has become a model and the only group that was able to demonstrate simple and appropriate beekeeping skills especially the value addition products and Amaizing Bee suits – the only one of its kind in the exhibition
You can read more about Bees Abroad’s work with the Sinyati women’s groups in these posts:
Dave Bonner has been engaged in community training in Uganda since 2008. Putting his interest in relief of poverty together with his beekeeping skills, it was a easy step for him to become engaged in Bees Abroad’s work.
He’s recently written an article about his work with Bees Abroad in BeeCraft – a British journal for beekeepers, styled “the informed voice of British beekeeping”. We’re delighted that the editors have let us reproduce the article here.
Please select the link below to read the article, which was published in the March 2014 edition of BeeCraft.
We are delighted to be able to announce that Bees Abroad has secured major funding from the UK Department for International Aid (DFID) for a three-year project to alleviate poverty through advancing beekeeping skills and supporting bio-conservation and bio-enterprise in the arid and semi-arid land (ASAL) in the Kenyan district of Laikipia. Our chairman, John Home might be interviewed with Lyn Featherstone, Minister for Overseas Development on BBC radio 4 at lunchtime on 24th December 2013 (subject to the ever-changing news priorities). Jimmy Doherty, one of Bees Abroad’s patrons, commented enthusiastically on the project, saying “It’s wonderful to think that 900 households will be given beekeeping skills that can be used straight away and then handed on to future generations.”