Bee muses

This is an ongoing project to study and document the practices of master beekeepers in Africa – people who produce excellent yields of honey in a sustainable, environmentally appropriate manner using traditional or modern methods, or a combination of both.  We want to capture the innovations and creativity of African beekeepers. Indeed under local conditions our experience tells us that low-cost tools, indigenous knowledge and local materials are often superior to those “improved systems” based on modern hives and European-based methods.

The project is financed by contributions from individual benefactors, and is implemented by the ABRC team.

This 18-month project is identifying and working with exemplary Kenyan beekeepers and honey hunters (men and women) by focussing on which particular husbandry practices make them successful – describing the techniques, technologies, values and business skills that set them apart from the rest. (We will continue collecting and publishing these stories and lessons beyond the life of this project.)

Our findings (credited to the individuals themselves) are being written-up/filmed/recorded to provide lessons for improving beekeeping practice, focusing research needs and guiding development support to benefit others. The outputs will be in the form of audience-targeted materials: a book; Journal contributions; a series of films for use in trainings; a series of concepts for development and research projects; a series of off-prints; mass media (newspaper) articles (for the general public); and material for the ABRC website.

These knowledge products will also provide case-studies for influencing development practitioners and donors. They will generate basic principles for improving African bee husbandry – redressing the many misguided technology-transfer approaches that have failed to date.

Furthermore, locally appropriate bee husbandry systems are needed across the continent – with other races of bees, in different ecological zones and in other socio-cultural and economic environments. “Bee muses” will not only refine ideas on which beekeeping systems are best for Eastern Africa, but will also demonstrate how local knowledge can be collected, assessed and used elsewhere.  Both the outputs of the project, and processes we are using to identify these skills, will be valuable.

If you would like know more about this project, or would like to support this research, please get in touch with us.

Box Hives:  Mr. Andrew Makau, a small scale farmer from Nakuru with his innovative box hive beekeeping system
Box Hives: Mr. Andrew Makau, a small scale farmer from Nakuru with his innovative box hive beekeeping system
A traditional log hive with a queen excluder fitted.
A traditional log hive with a queen excluder fitted.
Pot hive
Innovation: A pot hive with a honey super on top

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