Sunday, 12 August 2007

Bees for Development

Einstein is reputed to have said that if bees disappeared, the earth would die within four years. It is unlikely that he did in fact say it, but the idea nevertheless does have a grain of truth.

The Bees for Development organisation helps people in poor and remote areas of developing countries and raises awareness of the value of beekeeping in alleviating poverty. They provide both training and resources. They advise on how to build hives, market the honey, manage the bees sustainably and develop a livelihood.

The benefits to people are that the bees pollinate crops, they provide food in the form of honey, and they provide income from selling honey as well as other products such as beeswax. Beekeeping offers a good way for people to create income from natural resources without harming the environment.

The other products can be made and sold locally. Beeswax is used in polish, soaps and candles. Propolis is commonly available as an ingredient in toothpaste, soaps and ointments. Many people value it for sore throats and toothache.

Beekeeping is especially empowering for women as it offers an opportunity to create an income without great expense in setting up, and there is no requirement to own land, often a major problem for women. It doesn't require constant attention and can fit in with other work.

Projects have been set up in Ethiopia, Senegal, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana, Malawi, as well as many other countries outside Africa. North West Bee Products in Zambia is the only Fair-trade and organic certified honey business exporting honey from Africa to the UK.


  1. The honey bees here are disappearing. Do you know if this is happening in Africa, too?

  2. Hi Hathor. I don't know for certain, but I think not. The disappearing bee problem started apparently in North America, and there are some occurrences in Europe. There is a huge long article in Wikipedia, but nowhere does it mention the problem in Africa.


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