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Beekeeping - training and livelihoods

Typically in Nigeria, honey is collected from the wild, and then sold by women in the local markets. It can be contaminated with debris, brownish in colour, and smells and tastes smokey. It is usually sold in recycled bottles into which the honey has been decanted.The honey is used locally as a sweetener and also as an antiseptic.

Background to the project

The idea of beekeeping at Attachab came through discussions between John Dada and Marcus Simmons. The need to look at local honey production as a potential sustainable livelihood was identified. It soon became apparent during the UK-Nigeria meetings that actually this project would encompass a number of other issues too:

  • Education - introducing Biology as a science.
  • Design of the Attachab Eco-village along permaculture principles and in the long term, the future possibility of Eco tourism.
  • Honey providing sustainable livelihoods
  • Honey production for its nutritional value which compliments John Dada's Positive Concern programme at Fantsuam Foundation.

Initially, a feasibility study was set up in order to assess the potential possibility of running a Beekeeping course at Fantsuam: Phase one of the Beekeeping Project.

Dadamac's involvement

July 2008 : In Collaboration with Dadamac, Marcus Simmons and Fantsuam Foundation held a series of online meetings.

In depth details

a) Currently the secondary education curriculum does not cover Biology as a science. John is a Professor of Biology. It is hoped that eventually the current Knowlege Resource Center at Fantsuam, Nigeria will develop into a centre of excellence for Biology offering field studies and contributing and enriching local secondary education. The study of the Bees lifecycle is felt to be a meaningful first introduction to biology

b) From the outset the Attachab Eco-village is being designed along permaculture principles so it was important for the team to audit what flowering plants were already in the vicinity and to advise the Attachab team as to which local flowering plants should be planted at the site.

c) There is the potential for the honey production to become part of the successful Fantsuam Foundation microcredit bank providing sustainable livlihoods, paticularly for women. The bank could provide loans for the beekeeping equipment and for training. The honey could then, for example, be sold in 20 mils sachets using the microcredit field officers network for distribution.

d) An additional and important benefit of honey production is for its nutritional value as it will compliment John Dada's Positive Concern programme. WEEK ONE - BEEKEEPING TRAINING CURRICULUM Life cycle of the honey bee Caste of the colony Bee by-products and their uses Types of bee hives Concept or dynamics of bee hives Safety in beekeeping Smother and smother fuel Baiting Methods of hive colonization Cells size Capped honey cells Capped brood cells Identification of queen bee Site location requirements Hive management practices Hive Installation methods How to open a bee hive How to locate the queen bee Methods of colony increase Methods of colony division Swarming and its control Absconding and its control Pest and disease Feed and feeding techniques - Harvesting and processing - Organic soap making using beeswax - Organic cream making for Skin Infection - Candle making

Project outcomes

As a result of  Phase One the team were able to:

  • Identify a suitable Nigerian expert who was willing to run a 1 week beekeeping course at Fantsuam.
  • The course content was identified and agreed.
  • Photos of the local flowers were taken to establish the existance of suitable local flowering plants
  • A site for 10 hives was identified.

The outcome of the study was that it is feasible and desirable to run a week long beekeeping course at Fantsuam Foundation but that this project cannot proceed any further until there are funds.

In August 2010 Jen contacted Dadamac to say that she was now in a position to help us move into Phase Two of the project: namely to look at securing funding for a practical Beekeeping course which will provide a sustainable livelihood.

What happened next

  • Update January 2010  Pam met Pam Gregory, a master beekeeper and international beekeeping consultant with 35 years beekeeping and training experience, at Engineers without Borders (Nov 6th 2009) . Pam Gregory has a beekeeping manual with excellent photos that could be made freely available should a beekeeping course at Fantsuam start. 
  • We have also had an offer for help from Sasha, an experienced beekeeper from Serbia who has experience of advising others online.
  • September 2010: Jen Miller,  the zoologist, who was originally instrumental in the 2008 feasibility study agreed to become the Dadamac Beekeeping Ambassador.