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

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