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

The unstoppable women beekeepers in Nigeria

The unstoppable women beekeepers in Nigeria

November 20, 2023

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.

Entrepreneurial Collaboration
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.

 

Update: 5 months later

Five months after we replaced the hives and three months after we first shared this story we had a message from one of the group  leaders, Mr. Akanni:

Good day! This is from ORI ERU PROGRESSIVE BEEKEEPERS, We harvest honey from the hives that was replaced last year October, 2023 by Bees Abroad at our apiary. We make the harvest on 27, February. 2024 This is so wonderful, after the process, we have 15 litres of honey. In which the women are so happy and grateful to the Bees Abroad.

May God bless Bees Abroad

Mr. Akanni

 

Ori Eru progressive beekeepers February 2024

Dr. Sakina’s Journey: From Childhood Arm Amputation to Beekeeping Leader

Dr. Sakina’s Journey: From Childhood Arm Amputation to Beekeeping Leader

November 4, 2023

Disability in Nigeria

Dr Sakina is a remarkable woman with a remarkable story to tell. This is a story not just about personal achievements in the face of adversity but of also of building a supportive community for people who are otherwise marginalised.  

In Nigeria, having any kind of disability can mean the odds are seriously stacked against you, culturally (‘take your bad luck and go’), economically (‘you can’t contribute anything’) and spiritually (beliefs that God does not give you more than you can bear). Dr Sakina lost her left arm when she was a child and was faced with overcoming all the cultural stereotypes that threatened to impact her future.

Dr Sakina’s journey from academic to beekeeping leader

Dr Sakina determinedly pursued her academic interests, leading her to complete a post graduate master’s degree, then a PhD in medicinal insects. From her studies she developed an interest in beekeeping and started looking for local beekeepers to learn more about bees. What she learnt captivated Sakina and she became a beekeeper herself, starting with traditional beekeeping from local beekeepers. Sakina’s thirst for knowledge left her wanting to learn more, she jumped at the chance to learn about modern beekeeping with Bees Abroad. 

 Dr Sakina saw a need to help other women who shared her struggles with disability and the stigma of being divorced. In Nigeria, and many other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, being divorced or widowed brings stigma that compounds the challenge of going from a dual-income family to a single-income family. Family relationships and support networks can also be seriously negatively impacted. 

Women Agricultural Development Forum and Bees Abroad joining forces

Driven by her desire to help others who face similar challenges, Dr Sakina founded Women Agricultural Development Forum (WADF) in 2018. Bees Abroad started working with WADF in April 2020. Initially, 24 beekeepers were trained, with another 40 trained in 2021.  

 Unlike Dr Sakina who’s an accomplished academic, many of the women in WADF are illiterate. For these women, who are already marginalised, and with little formal education, earning a living is an extremely hard task. The WADF has been a lifeline and beekeeping is the only source of income for many members of the group.  

What’s next for Dr Sakina

Dr Sakina has leveraged the relationship with Bees Abroad to grow her NGO to reach more and more women and she has ambitions to grow it further. Lots of women approach the group and ask for support and training. The demand for beekeeping knowledge is growing. Dr Sakina wants to package more honey (suitable containers can be hard to come by) and make other products such as bees wax based creams.

She herself has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge on beekeeping, she aims to deepen her knowledge alongside her studies on pests and diseases that affect bees. This Bees Abroad project is in its final year, but there’s always more that can be done. Dr Sakina’s story is the perfect proof that ‘This Beekeeper Can’.  

This Beekeeper Can

If you want to support beekeepers and groups like Dr Sakina and WADF we have a great opportunity for you! From the 28th November – 5th December 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 month as we celebrate the campaign ‘This Beekeeper Can’. Stay tuned to hear more stories, join our events or enter our prize draw.  

Mrs Adams: A Beekeeping Matriarch

Mrs Adams: A Beekeeping Matriarch

September 17, 2023

In our previous blog, we had the privilege of introducing you to the incredible journey of Mrs. Adams, the grandmother of beekeeping in her Nigerian community. Today, we’re excited to share more about her beekeeping journey and how she earned a reputation that saw demand for her quality honey grow quickly and organically. 

Mrs Adams honey stall - nearly sold out!

Mrs Adams honey stall – nearly sold out!

A Honey Stall with Heart

Right after completing the beekeeping training provided by Bees Abroad in 2006, Mrs. Adams wasted no time in putting her newfound knowledge to good use. She established her very own honey stall, a humble yet effective setup that serves as both a point of sale and a powerful advertisement for her honey. While her stall may not be grand or elaborate, it has proven to be the perfect platform for showcasing her honey. Even today, many years later, Mrs. Adams continues to use this trusty stall to connect with her customers. 

A stellar reputation and ambitious plans

Thanks to Bees Abroad’s training on quality harvesting techniques, Mrs. Adams and her family have not only become skilled beekeepers but also producers of high-quality honey. The word quickly spread, and their reputation soared. With a loyal customer base that they’ve cultivated over the years, they are in the enviable position of demand for their honey being five times the volume they produce. Their customers know and trust them, making it unnecessary to invest in costly social media or specialized marketing efforts. 

Mrs. Adams and her family have ambitious plans to take their beekeeping enterprise to new heights. To achieve this, they are looking for support in two crucial areas: the manufacture of beekeeping inputs such as bee suits, smokers, and brushes, and value-added training. These elements will not only enable them to expand their honey production but also open doors to tourism visits to their apiary. 

Mrs Adams (right hand side) with Bees Abroad’s Bisi (middle) back in 2006

Change that lasts a lifetime

Mrs. Adams’ remarkable journey from a shy observer at the back of a training hall to the matriarch of a thriving beekeeping family is a testament to the enduring impact of education, support, and a simple act of kindness. She was trained by Bees Abroad 18 years ago, a span of time that some might call a lifetime. Mrs. Adams, the grandmother of beekeeping, has left a lasting legacy. Her story reminds us of the profound impact that even the smallest acts of generosity can have in transforming lives and communities. 

Will You Bee Part of The Story?

Bees Abroad can only work with individuals like Mrs Adams with the help of our supporters. Will you “Bee Part of The Story”?

This blog is part of Remember a Charity campaign week. Through the Remember a Charity campaign week, we will celebrate the impact made by our small but mighty initiatives and those who have supported us.

We’re spreading the small but mighty message. You don’t have to be a millionaire to leave a legacy through your Will. Help us spread the buzz about legacy giving and show the word that we can all be ‘Willantropists’ – creating a legacy that truly matters, no matter the size. 

Mrs Adams honey stall - nearly sold out!

Mrs. Adams: The Grandmother of Beekeeping

Mrs. Adams: The Grandmother of Beekeeping

September 14, 2023

In the world of beekeeping, there are stories that stand out as shining examples of the transformative power of knowledge and support. One such story is that of Mrs. Adams, a woman with a remarkable and notable journey into beekeeping . Let’s delve into her story and discover how she became the grandmother of beekeeping in her community.

Photo: Mrs Adams at Bees Abroad training back in 2006

Quiet strength

In 2006 Bees Abroad volunteer and trustee Bisi New delivered beekeeping training to a community farming group in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State in South West Nigeria. Ogun State is also the location of Okun Owa school, featured in our last blog.

Among the participants at the beekeeping training was Mrs. Adams, a woman who, at the time, was quite shy and often found at the back of the training hall. During practical demonstrations, she preferred to observe from a distance. However, her attendance was unwavering, and she paid meticulous attention, absorbing knowledge and information with a keen and curious mind. She was determined to learn the art of beekeeping.

A small gift, a lasting impact

Mrs. Adams, like many aspiring beekeepers, needed more than just knowledge; she needed support and basic resources to put her newfound skills into practice. After the training Bisi took it upon herself to provide Mrs. Adams with a personal gift – Bisi’s own bee suit. With this gift, Mrs. Adams had the means to start her beekeeping journey immediately.

Mrs. Adams cherished the bee suit gifted to her. In fact, she held onto it for many years, until it no longer fitted her. At that point, she passed the suit on to her son. Her son, too, became involved in beekeeping, using the same bee suit to manage the family apiary alongside his siblings. It’s a testament to the enduring impact of a simple but thoughtful gift.

Mrs Adams journey

As time passed, Mrs. Adams aged, and her ability to actively manage practical beekeeping diminished. However, her mind remained sharp and filled with beekeeping wisdom. She assumed the role of a matriarch, guiding her children in their beekeeping endeavours. She handled logistics, offered advice, and played a crucial part in sustaining the family’s beekeeping business. She has built up her family beekeeping business though she still uses the same ‘for sale’ sign she made after her initial training.

Today, Mrs. Adams is a true beekeeping matriarch, passing on her knowledge through the generations. Beekeeping, in this instance, has become an inter-generational tool for economic stability and sustainability. Her entire family is involved in the bee business with innovations such as taking people to meet the bees i.e., exo tourism introduced over time by the younger generation. Each beekeeper in the family has their own customer list and specialism. Mrs Adams’s stall continues to cater very small quantities for individuals like widows who seek out a quality product.

Change that lasts a lifetime

Mrs. Adams’ remarkable journey from a shy observer at the back of a training hall to the matriarch of a thriving beekeeping family is a testament to the enduring impact of knowledge, support, and a simple act of kindness. She was trained by Bees Abroad 18 years ago, a span of time that some might call a lifetime. 

Mrs. Adams, the grandmother of beekeeping, has left a lasting legacy all thanks to the gift of knowledge and a bee suit that started it all. Her own endeavour and support from her local beekeeping group have sustained and extended her success. Her story reminds us of the profound impact that even the smallest acts can have in transforming lives and communities.

Watch the video above to meet Mrs Adams and her family of beekeepers

Will You Bee Part of The Story?

Bees Abroad can only work with individuals like Mrs Adams with the help of our supporters. Will you “Bee Part of The Story”?

This blog is part of Remember a Charity campaign week. Through the Remember a Charity campaign week, we will celebrate the impact made by our small but mighty initiatives and those who have supported us.

We’re spreading the small but mighty message. You don’t have to be a millionaire to leave a legacy through your Will. Help us spread the buzz about legacy giving and show the word that we can all be ‘Willantropists’ – creating a legacy that truly matters, no matter the size. 

Budding beekeepers: Okun Owa school’s legacy

Budding beekeepers: Okun Owa school’s legacy

September 10, 2023

In the last blog about Okun Owa school we learned about the many benefits that beekeeping has brought to the school including increased crop yields and a new water tank bought with the income generated from the hives. However, the story doesn’t end there. Like the hum of a bee colony, the impact of this project continues to resonate and spread, creating ripples of positive change that go far beyond the original vision. 

Paul Lawrence: A Budding Beekeeper

Paul Lawrence, a student who initially embarked on his beekeeping journey at Okun Owa primary school, serves as a perfect example of how Bees Abroad beekeeping projects often set something in motion. Paul’s interest in beekeeping was more than just enjoying a fun activity in school; he was bitten by the beekeeping bug and decided to take it to the next level. 

Starting with three hives, Paul ventured into creating his own apiary. Paul soon found he wanted to expand his new apiary further but struggled to find a carpenter to build the much-needed new hives. Determined not to let this get in the way Paul took matters into his own hands – quite literally. He decided to build his own hives, and now, he proudly tends to five hives, cultivating a thriving apiary of his own. 

Beekeeping's Influence Beyond School

Paul isn’t the only student who has embraced beekeeping as a path to success. The school beekeeping club is still going, with beekeeping added to the school curriculum and many students taking the skill with them after graduation. The school reports that several pupils from the senior school, who have since left, continue beekeeping independently. These young beekeepers are not only gaining valuable skills but also generating income for themselves and their families. It’s a testament to the lasting impact of beekeeping education at Okun Owa School. 

But the influence of Bees Abroad’s project doesn’t stop at the school gates. The ripples have spilled into the wider community surrounding the school; Okun Owa has had enquiries from other agricultural schools regionally about setting up their own bee club. Even individuals in other professions, such as the local motorcycle taxi drivers known as “Okadas,” have expressed a keen interest in beekeeping. They’ve witnessed the success and enthusiasm of beekeeping activities at the school and have been inspired to explore the opportunity for themselves. 

A four-year project, a lasting legacy

What this project has accomplished extends beyond honey and hives. The story of Paul Lawrence and the many other students who have embraced beekeeping is a testament to the enduring legacy of Bees Abroad’s work in Okun Owa. It reminds us that the impact of small initiatives can grow into something truly extraordinary, inspiring individuals to follow their passions, overcome obstacles, and contribute to the greater good of their community. 

As the hum of bees continues to resonate through Okun Owa School and its surroundings, it serves as a reminder that the best stories are the ones that don’t have an ending. 

Will You Bee Part of The Story?

Bees Abroad can only work with communities like Okun Owa school with the help of our supporters. Will you “Bee Part of The Story”?

This blog is part of Remember a Charity campaign week. Through the Remember a Charity campaign week, we will celebrate the impact made by our small but mighty initiatives and those who have supported us.

We’re spreading the small but mighty message. You don’t have to be a millionaire to leave a legacy through your Will. Help us spread the buzz about legacy giving and show the word that we can all be ‘Willantropists’ – creating a legacy that truly matters, no matter the size. 

Beekeeping for a Brighter Future: Okun Owa School’s Story

Beekeeping for a Brighter Future: Okun Owa School’s Story

September 7, 2023

A Glimpse into Okun Owa School

In the heart of Southwest Nigeria lies Ogun State, known as the “Gateway to Nigeria.” Named after the majestic Ogun River that runs across it, this region is home to Okun Owa School. Okun Owa School has a story to share about their journey into the world of beekeeping, a journey that’s enabling the school to achieve its aims and creating ripple effects beyond the boundaries of the school.  

Nestled in a rural area of Ogun State, Okun Owa is an agricultural school with many of the students coming from local farming families on low incomes. Many in the community suffer from poor nutrition, high mortality rates and inadequate access to healthcare that cast a shadow over this community. In September 2017 Okun Owa School and Bees Abroad started working together to teach both pupils and teachers the art of beekeeping, honey production, and marketing hive products.  

A blossoming enterprise

A total of 64 students and 2 teachers were trained in the art of beekeeping. It wasn’t just about bees; it was about building a brighter future. Like bees in a hive, this project buzzed with activity and brought multiple benefits to the school. 

Since the introduction of beekeeping, Okun Owa School has seen remarkable changes in their agricultural yields. Crops like mangoes and pineapples have flourished, leading to increased income as the school sells these fruits. But that’s not all. The hives, honey, and value-added beeswax products have created a new revenue stream for the school. Thanks to this newfound income, the school was able to purchase a water storage tank – a vital resource that makes a big difference to the daily lives of students and staff. 

Mrs. Osibanjo's Beekeeping Journey

One of the most inspiring stories to emerge from this project is that of Mrs. Osibanjo, the vice principal of the junior school. When she assumed her position, Bees Abroad was already working with the school and her predecessor, Mr. Ajayi. Mrs. Osibanjo was determined to learn all she could about beekeeping, asking Mr. Ajayi countless questions. 

Her interest increased after watching how beeswax cream was made and learning about propolis. She even took a honeycomb home to show her family and friends, sparking their interest in the world of bees. Previously sceptical about buying honey from hawkers due to concerns about fake products, Mrs. Osibanjo now confidently purchases honey harvested by the school. 

Small but mighty

The story of Okun Owa School serves as a powerful reminder that even small initiatives can lead to significant transformations. Individuals within the school community have embraced beekeeping at home, creating a ripple effect of positive change. In our next blog post about Okun Owa School, we’ll introduce you to Paul Lawrence, a student who began his beekeeping journey at the primary school and is now thriving in the secondary school. 

Will You Bee Part of The Story?

Bees Abroad can only work with communities like Okun Owa school with the help of our supporters. Will you “Bee Part of The Story”?

This blog is part of Remember a Charity campaign week. Through the Remember a Charity campaign week, we will celebrate the impact made by our small but mighty initiatives and those who have supported us.

We’re spreading the small but mighty message. You don’t have to be a millionaire to leave a legacy through your Will. Help us spread the buzz about legacy giving and show the world that we can all be ‘Willantropists’ – creating a legacy that truly matters, no matter the size. 

Behold the Beekeeping for Life Woman from Nigeria!

Behold the Beekeepers for Life Woman from Nigeria!

February 24 2023

Slow Food International and Bees Abroad UK are duos of which the Promotion of good, clean and fair food (honey) can be attained through Social Entrepreneurship option.

Mrs Afuape Fadilat joined the Capacity Building Training Workshop Support from Bees Abroad UK in 2020 at Abotokio Slow Food Beekeeping Community Abotokio, Nigeria. She quickly became a renown Slow Honey Packer, Beekeeping for Life, developing her business through soft loans and profits made from honey sold.

Today, she is being patronised by hundreds of customers in her local environment for maintaining natural honey quality. A honey of natural traits without any additives or adulteration!

Mrs Afuape is now the Spokesperson to Beekeeping for Life Women Slow Food Garden Community, Ilaro, Yewa South, Ogun State, South-West, Nigeria!

"I am committed to promote good, clean and fair enough honey by religiously following the Slow Food Beekeeping Philosophy" - Mrs Afuape

A Personal Introduction by Mrs Afuape

My name is Mrs Afuape Fadilat Abosede; a Nigerian local Honey Packer and marketer. My skills were greatly developed through the Bees Abroad UK’s Beekeeping Capacity Building Training Workshop support at Abotokio Slow Food Beekeeping Community Abotokio, Nigeria in 2020.

Through the training, I was motivated by the books by Pam Gregory’s manuals on Beekeeping and the encouragements from Messers Asade and Oreyemi Babatunde.

Later, I developed the interest for honey packaging and marketing with the notion of promoting good, clean and fair honey mostly, in my local environment. My efforts were recognised by Bees Abroad Trustees and I was nominated as one of the African Women to be part of the Beekeepers for Life Women Initiative in 2021.

In 2022, I had the opportunity to participate in the Promotion and Development of Horticulture (Vegetable Value Chain) training Workshop support by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Through this training,  I developed my skills in Vegetable Value Chain Development. This knowledge then prompted me to establish a personal Household Slow Food Garden where I planted sweet potatoes, chochorus and amaranthus for family consumption. In addition to that,  I also served as an Extension officer for a pilot project in my Community.

I am currently a Ward Facilitator for the ongoing Nigeria for Women Project in Yewa, in the northern area of Ogun State. The knowledge that I have gained from this project and from the support of Bees Abroad, gave me the confidence to do more. I have now registered my community as a Beekeeping for Life Women Slow Food Garden Community, Ona Egbo, Ilaro

In our community, we work together to promote the philosophy of the Slow Food Movement through Beekeeping, Gardening, Advocacy and Campaigns.

Thanks to Bees Abroad UK and Abotokio Slow Food Beekeeping Community, Abotokio, Nigeria for turning me into a Social Entrepreneur through Beekeeping.

Mrs Afuape Fadilat Abosede

Official Declaration of the Power of God Farmers Slow Food Garden Community Ilaro on Friday, 17th February, 2023 at the Secretariat of the group.

Meet Afuape Fadilat Abosede, a Beekeeper for Life in Nigeria

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Afuape is a Beekeeper for Life from the Abotokio Slow Food Beekeeping Community Women’s Group in Nigeria.

Meet Afuape Fadilat Abosede, a Beekeeper for Life from the Abotokio Slow Food Beekeeping Community Women’s Group in Nigeria.

Afuape was struggling to provide for her three children after trying various means of generating income. As she was trying unsuccessfully to sell phone cards at a market stall, she met Mr Asade who convinced her to try beekeeping and introduced her to the Abotokio Slow Food Beekeeping Community Group supported by Bees Abroad.

Afuape attended Bees Abroad training, joining the three program and read all she could all about beekeeping.

“I read Pam Gregory’s books and was highly inspired and concluded that if Pam Gregory, a woman like me can achieve one or two things through beekeeping to the extent of producing these two books being used worldwide to empower people, I must benefit too and have impact.”

She was inspired to start her own business processing, packaging and marketing a reliable source of natural, good-quality, clean, honey. She took out a loan, and working with two group beekeepers, began selling quality honey from group members. She was immediately in business with demand and profits increasing.

Afuape discovered a role which used her talents and enabled her to become her own boss! Following the training she received in the Bees Abroad capacity building project, she buys the raw materials from active beekeeping group members. She has now set herself up as a honey producer, packer and marketer and creates valued added beeswax creams and soaps to sell. The money she raises is being used to expand the business and pay school fees for her children… and the honey is improving their family nutrition!

Afuape is excited about the future and has plans to establish a personal apiary from where she can harvest her own honey and beeswax for her family business.

“I dreamt very big and was determined to have impact.”

 

If you would like to help more women like Afuape support themselves and their families through beekeeping, please donate to the Beekeepers for Life Campaign during the Big Give Christmas Challenge (Nov 30 – Dec 7) when your donations will be doubled!