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.


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.  

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.  

Empowering Uganda’s ‘Road Barrier Widows’

Empowering Uganda’s ‘Road Barrier Widows’

June 28, 2023

In this blog we will delve into one of our newest projects, the inspiring journey of a registered community group in Uganda known as the ‘Road Barrier Widows’. Comprised of strong and determined women who have faced the challenges of widowhood, this group is embracing beekeeping to uplift their lives and their community. Read on to learn about the significance of registered community groups, the unique struggles faced by widows in Uganda, and how beekeeping will strengthen this group. 

About the Road Barrier Women and the challenges they face

The ‘Road Barrier Widows’ is a group of 32 women who face several challenges that come with the loss of their husbands. Firstly, their income potential is significantly reduced, leaving them economically vulnerable. Secondly, traditional Ugandan households depend on the labour of both spouses both for childcare and to tend their smallholdings, and with the loss of their husbands, this crucial support is lost. Lastly, being a widow in Uganda carries a social stigma due to cultural beliefs and societal norms, which can further compound the challenges faced by these resilient women. 

Understanding Registered Community Groups

Registered community groups (CBOs) are official organizations formed by individuals who share common goals and objectives. These groups, recognized by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), play a crucial role in community development. They bring together people with similar experiences or interests and provide a platform for collective action. By formalizing their organization, CBOs gain credibility, access to funding, legal recognition, and opportunities for collaboration with government agencies and NGOs. Knowing this, the Road Barrier Women formed their own CBO.

Empowering the Road Barrier Widows Through Beekeeping

Motivated to improve their circumstances, the ‘Road Barrier Widows’ have chosen beekeeping as one of their group activities, alongside keeping chickens and making handicrafts. The group is organised group and enterprising: they built their own top bar hives and have attempted to start beekeeping through self-teaching, but they need help to do it properly which is where Bees Abroad and our local partner, LIDEFO come in. We will support the group to learn how to keep bees properly, make quality honey which they can sell locally and fetches a much higher price than the other crops and items they produce.  

The location of the group boasts an abundance of mango trees, ample forest tree cover, and a diverse range of flowering plants, providing abundant pollen and nectar. The women grow various crops in the area too, including coffee, and keeping bees will enhance pollination supporting crop production.  

The ‘Road Barrier Widows’ embody the strength and resilience of Ugandan women, showcasing the power of unity and community support. By supporting community groups like the ‘Road Barrier Widows,’ we can empower individuals, communities and support inclusive development in Uganda. 

Follow along and join in with your own beeswax stories in the comments on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

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.

Value-Addition Workshops for Women’s Groups

News from Kasese, Uganda

Becca, a lifetime beekeeper and conservation degree student who represented England at the International Meeting of Young Beekeepers has travelled to our projects in Uganda. She is currently in Kasese with our Women’s Cluster groups, delivering a series of value addition workshops. She is teaching how to make wax products (such as body cream, lip salves, shoe polish) which all earn extra income for the group participants and make good use of all the wax that top bar hives produce! We will hear more from Becca and her work in Kasese on her return to the UK!

We are grateful for the generosity of The Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers who are supporting these and other value addition product workshops being delivered in Uganda and Ghana, providing the knowledge and basic equipment for meaningful extra income.

Meet Afuape Fadilat Abosede, a Beekeeper for Life in Nigeria

women empowerment

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!

Meet Anastazia Charles – she is one of our Beekeepers for Life in Tanzania

women empowerment

Jikomboe Group, Nyamcolechiwa, Kome Island, Tanzania

This week, as part of our “Meet the Beekeeper” series we would like you to meet Anastazia Charles, from the Jikomboe Women’s Beekeeping group in Tanzania. Anastazia lives in the small village of Nyamkolechiwa on Kome Island, on Lake Victoria.

“The women didn’t have any knowledge of beekeeping and were afraid of the bees, but now, they are very bold and are ready to work very hard to ensure the project is successful.”

(Justina Nswilla, local EI trainer for Jikomboe Group)

Anastazia is 57 years old and has seven children and four grandchildren. She works hard, growing food for her family to eat. Before joining the beekeeping group, she relied on selling “pombe” (homemade beer), but was unhappy, knowing it was not a good thing to do. She is now delighted to be part of Jikomboe (“Self Liberation”) group and looking forward to raising better capital through selling honey, and then being able to start other small businesses. Her hope is that this will enable her children and her grandchildren to go to school.

Anastazia recently attended her first beekeeping training with the group of twenty other women from her small community on this island in Lake Victoria. There is very limited infrastructure on the island and most of its people (the ‘Wazinza’) are subsistence farmers. Faced with a continual decrease in their crop yields and degradation of their natural ecosystem along with other poverty-related issues affecting health and education, there is a need for change.

Anastazia and the other women are excited about being empowered to enact this change! They are working together to learn beekeeping with trainers from Bees Abroad local partner, Emmanuel International (EI), and have hung their first 40 hives. The women are taught to incorporate beekeeping with conservation agriculture techniques, which combined with bee pollination will increase their crop yield and food security. They are also receiving training and support to establish and tree nurseries to improve their environment and raise extra income through sales.

Anastazia and the other women in the group are truly becoming beekeepers for life!

If you would like to help more women like Anastazia 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!

Meet Jostina Biira! She is one of our Beekeepers for Life from the KITE group in Uganda.

women empowerment

Jostina is the first of our featured beekeepers in our Meet The Beekeeper series highlighting the incredible impact achieved by the Beekeepers For Life programmes.

“Bees are money, food, medicine and they increase our crop yield.”

Jostina lives on the slopes of Kasebere village in Kasese District in western Uganda with her husband and five sons.

Unable to finish school due to limited resources, she is now delighted to have received training in beekeeping. She and other women formed a group called KITE and began training with LIDEFO in 2016 through the support of Bees Abroad. She is now so excited to share how beekeeping has helped her and the other women in the group.

The Kite Women's Beekeeping Group Committee
The Kite Women’s Beekeeping Group Committee

“Beekeeping, if compared to other agricultural activities, pays better and there is no need for high skills. The products of bees are consumed even in our homes as food and medicine and also there is a ready market, so when we sell, we can make money!”

The women in KITE have learned how to make top bar hives, learned how to care for them and how to harvest honey and wax. Jostina was excited for the first time in her life to cut timber and use nails and make herself a hive! We asked Jostina what changes she had seen in the KITE women since they trained as beekeepers.

“KITE women are very happy! We started with 4 hives colonized but now 14 have bees. The women never believed this could happen! But it is a miracle in this rural community! We no longer fear bees and are excited to see more hives colonized. And we have respect in our village. People now come to visit our Apiary as it is the only one they have seen in our village! They come to see the bees and are asking questions about bees and our hives!”

Through the KITE Women’s Beekeeping Group, Jostina has seen women enabled to come together and they have seen their environment improve through the planting of trees and flowers. We asked Jostina what her hopes as a beekeeper were for the future…

“I would like to learn how to make candles, shoe polish, lipshine with beeswax and increase income with business after selling my honey. I desire to make a shelter for my children, and I hope to be able to support elderly and disabled women and see more people trained in beekeeping.”

Helping more women like Jostina is the focus of our Beekeepers For Life campaign. This Bees Abroad initiative trains & supports women to become skilled beekeepers, community leaders, trainers & entrepreneurs, through our sustainable beekeeping training model with expert field practitioners. Alleviating poverty by creating Beekeepers For Life in rural communities across Africa.

Help us create more Beekeepers For Life by donating through The Big Give from November 30th to December 7th. For every £1 you donate through our Big Give page an additional £1 is donated, doubling our impact. Find out more by on our campaign page. 

Photo Credits: LIDEFO

Dowa Women Beekeeping Project – Malawi

Turning Women Farmers into Beekeepers

Before 2020, there had not been a beekeeping project solely targeting women in Dowa around Kongwe Forest Reserve. As such, the Dowa Women Beekeeping Project by ICAD with support from Bees Abroad, has enabled women to take up beekeeping as a supplementary means of improving their livelihoods.

The Dowa Group With Representatives From Our Local Partner ICAD – Taking A Break From The Classroom

The project comes as a source of encouragement and practical guidance for women beekeepers and most importantly the skills attained through training continue to meaningfully engage the women’s groups on crucial matters affecting their livelihoods through which beekeeping serves as a means of uplifting their lives.

As with all of our Bees Abroad programmes the group participates in a programme that blends classroom lessons with practical hands-on experience. Nothing quite matches the excitement and engagement of seeing the first hives assembled and understanding how to look after them and their occupants, the bees.

Demonstrating the Use of Top Bars
The Finished Article – Ready to Move to the Apiary
Installing the Top Bar Hive In The Apiary

The Dowa Group is one of our largest recent projects and Bees Abroad believe it has been a great success. We’re already planning an expansion of the programme with our partners at ICAD through our Beekeepers For Life campaign. Don’t, however, just take our word for this success.

Meet Mai Lucy Kamdolozi  -one of our participants from the Tilipo Women Beekeeping Group within the Dowa project.

Mai Lucy Studying Hard With a Bees Abroad Manual

Mai is a first time beekeeper and when asked about her thoughts on the beekeeping training this is what she had to say:

“I have been encouraged and inspired by the basic beekeeping training which has provided me with an introduction to beekeeping and basic skills for bee management. I am very hopeful that beekeeping will contribute to Improving nutrition and food security for my family. In addition, income realized from my beekeeping business will able me to pay for school fees for my children.”

And, of course, nothing beats the feeling of coming home from the apiary having harvested honey..

Returning Home – Mission Accomplished

Photo Credits: all photos courtesy of ICAD