While searching for a viable grassroots approach to directly combat poverty in Africa, Richard Unwin, an international businessman, looked to honey bees for an answer.
Although apiculture, or beekeeping as it is better known, has a long tradition in Africa, it is not normally practiced as a commercial activity. Honey hunting’ is a more conventional way of harvesting, but the natural colonies and log hives are often damaged in the process.
Currently working in Uganda, Hives Save Lives supports non-governmental and community building organisations, such as farmers’ co-operatives, schools, women’s groups and youth projects. A package of support includes a seven-day course, hives specially designed for the local conditions and equipment such as protective clothing.
The bee projects also receive ongoing support, from colonising the new hives, to helping market the honey, as well as other products. Repayment for the cost of the hives is on an interest-free basis over four to five years, which allows the organisation to put their money back into further training and manufacturing.
To progress their work further, Hives Save Lives is looking for basic mobile telephones to help with the monitoring and evaluation of the projects. This will help to collate important data on honey production levels and report changes in harvesting seasons.