What could be better than combining two loves, right?
That’s what I thought.
So for the last few months I’ve been working with Bees Abroad, a charity organization based in the UK that is working to relieve poverty through beekeeping. I’ve been writing occasional blog posts and magazine articles for and about them and... I love it.
Writing these posts and articles allows me to dive deep into the work they are doing. Digging through case studies and reports and getting as close and personal with the work being done as I can is the best thing, next to actually being there.
Bees Abroad and their beekeeper volunteers are amazing.
Here’s why I really like Bees Abroad and why I am attempting to support their efforts through writing.
They are not a blanket solution. They don’t arrive in third world countries with first world methods and solutions. They work with what the community/person already has/knows/does and they help them improve on it. For example, many communities in Africa (if they already keep bees), use top bar hives. Bees Abroad doesn’t come with Langstroth style hive bodies to replace top bar hives, but works with the existing hive system. And each person/community is struggling differently so every project is tailored specifically for that individual. One person I read about in a report had kept hives for a long time but was never able to grow beekeeping into a money making endeavor because he didn’t know about swarm control. A few lessons on bee behavior and some demonstrations and he was able to grow substantially!
Bees Abroad's projects are sustainable and locally led- when Bees Abroad has to leave, the effort doesn’t fall apart. They focus on improving skills and methods and giving people the tools and skills they need to lift themselves out of poverty. They don’t hand out money, they hand out knowledge. They teach useful skills. For example, all the ingredients for their lotion bar recipe are available, affordable and accessible.
Bees Abroad teaches value addition. They don’t dump a load of beekeeping supplies in a struggling community and hope for the best. They teach people how to make beesuits, hives and hive products like the lotion bars.
Bees Abroad's volunteers are mostly older folks who could spend their time at home or on vacation but instead choose to be a part of something bigger than their own apiaries.
They don’t want me to write articles begging for money and I don’t either. Their goal is to share how awesome bees and beekeeping is and what a difference it can make. The chair of the organization gets excited about articles about women in beekeeping--not because I can add “Please support Bees Abroad…” to the bottom of the article-- but because beekeeping is making a REAL difference in the lives of women worldwide! (I wrote an article about this, which you can find in the Winter 2019/2020 issue of the BeesCene magazine.)
They look at both the big and small pictures.
Big picture: More people managing hives means environmental benefits and pollination, less honey hunting activities (where wild hives are killed in order to harvest the honey) and community prosperity.
Small picture: Beekeeping impacts individuals, improving quality of life, health, and so on. Ultimately, the Bees Abroad goal is for beekeeping to be the way people can lift themselves out of poverty, in a sustainable way.
In the end, I don’t have money to give; I am just a young beekeeper and writer after all. But offering a skill I have to try and reach out to people in North America for support is something I can do, and it’s been so much fun!
Check out their website to learn more about what they do!