The local government has embraced this group for its good governance and they have received funding to encourage the youth to take up beekeeping they are learning how to make hives and when they own 2 hives they can become full members of the group. Members run their own fundraising from activities such as a “merry-go-round” that supports loans to members as well as the purchase of items for group activities. They produced 6 litres of honey ,harvested wax and are making body creams

They do have challenges like no running water ,no store for their honey and products and a workshop no doubt this group will work together to overcome these difficulties.


Bees Abroad was represented by 4 volunteer project leaders at The 1st Apimondia Symposium on African Bees and Beekeeping 2014 will be held from 11th to 13th November 2014, at the Arusha International Conference .more on the web site details can be found ..

It was an interesting time doing lots of networking and meeting people from all over the world including Alaska !The first person we recognised was Dr Lucy King and it was good to renew the acquaintance and to find out that she was going to Laikipia  in Kenya where we would be heading to after the conference. We will be putting together a report later as there was much to peruse over .It was followed by technical excursions we chose to go on the day excursion to see stingless bees on a farm nearby. It was a fascinating visit to see 400 hives-mainly logs and box hives just hanging on the buildings They obtain about 3 litres of honey per hive and harvest 3 times a year. The bees are different to bees as we know them gives very interesting information -many photos have been taken on the visit and will form the basis of interesting talks in the UK


In June 2013 CHEPTEBO RURAL DEVELOPMENT CENTRE (CRDC) in the Kerio Valley in Kenya , where Bees Abroad have helped to introduce beekeeping, was chosen to be the host nationally for the global day to combat desertification. This is a convention initiated by United Nations which Kenya is part of and its objectives are to educate communities in environmental conservation. The event drew many people from various parts of Kenya including senior government officials led by Environment secretary, Deputy Governor, dignitaries from United Nations, NGO’S and stakeholders.
The centre had passed the required criteria because of its track record in environmental conservation efforts in a practical way evident in its activities within and outside the Centre.

The key speech was given By Dr. Alice Akinyi Kaudia – Environment Secretary – Ministry of Environment and Natural resources. The theme of the year is, “don’t let our future dry up”. Her speech and others who spoke emphasized the intention of the day; that is World day to combat desertification initiative to support local communities to adapt and build resilience by seeking to:
1. Increase food security through enhancing drought resilient of local agricultural practices.
2. Reduce poverty through diversification of enterprises to improve livelihoods
3. Facilitate the integration of adaptation of drought into Kenya sustainable development plans and policies
4. Undertake measures to reduce vulnerability of inhabitants of Arid and semi arid areas to vagaries of drought
5. Illustrate how national policies through NAP (National Action Programme) may be influenced and modified based on lessons learned from the field.

Bees Abroad have been invited to help with a beekeeping module in the Agriculture course CRDC hope to commence in 2015 looking particularly at farming in arid and semi arid lands

CHEPSIGOT SEKEMIAT WOMENS GROUP attended this event having a stand with their added value products as well as a sample of their A-maizing Beesuits. They impressed the judges at the event and were awarded to following certificates shown above. This is a great achievement for the knowledge Bees Abroad have shared wi9th this group over the last few years

CHEPSIGOT SCHOOL have continued to develop their Young farmers club and one of the Bees Abroad donated hives has been occupied and has provided some honey added nourishment to the meals for the children. They have also benefited from a donation from the junior School in Southam which they are using to have additional hives and irrigation pipe for the school farm

SINYATI WOMEN still have considerable challenges from tribal unrest but are benefiting by being able to make the added value hive products to supplement their income. Caroline Lentupuru one of their members has joined the Baringo County Government responsible for the Environment and Natural Resources.

We have now had the opportunity to return to Nanyuki in Laikipia and meet our field staff at our partners  CERA office and hear updates from them all regarding the work so far in the widespread parts that they cover as field officers. The meeting was also attended the Chairman of CERA not forgetting our lady book keeper and the Executive project manager

Once again it was a pleasure to have the support of the Laikipia Governor and his Minister of Agriculture who greeted us at an early meeting. 

The following days we were able to make field trips to see for ourselves some groups the field officers are working with and how already after just 3 months  the benefits of training have been enthusiastically received  

During this time we have been accompanied by Arthur a young beekeeper from the UK as a gap year student who will be working within the project for  3 months.

It is a great encouragement to us at Bees Abroad to have had the opportunity to see how our efforts have started to bare fruit working as a team under the leadership of our Kenya project manager and the local staff to see the press release about the project work in Laikipia Kenya

Peter Paterson talking about the low tech approach he advocates with the possible use of his bamboo hive in an elephant fence with Dr King and John

Peter Paterson Dr Lucy King Mary and John Home when they met at Karen

Peter Paterson and John paid a visit to Honey Care Africa HQ having heard that there had been changes for the better in the organisation .This was confirmed when we met staff Head of operations Natasha Nurani who explained how things work now. It was a very informative visit which we both appreciated them accommodating us and answering our many questions.

John talking to a group of students at the National Beekeeping Station

Cattle on their way back to the farm after the day in the reserve

We have had an interesting time here in Kenya and now need to reflect on all the meetings we have attended ,the people we have met, the decisions we have made and still need to make on the way forward for our beekeeping  project. It has been challenging but we have learned a great deal about the changing face of Kenya with divulged government to the counties.

We have experienced a safari trip and seen the wide open spaces where the animals are free to wander The 3 hour journey between Nairobi and Nanyuki with very contrasting countryside.The traffic jams in Nairobi  and weather patterns we did not expect .A tropical storm in Nairobi on Wednesday  turned the roads into rivers and the unusually cool weather meant we needed to buy something warmer to wear.

On Thursday 15th we made a visit to the National Beekeeping Station and met with Grace Asiko as well as other members of the staff there It is good to met up and renew friendships. As well as exchanging beekeeping news and views we were asked to speak with the students who were attending the beekeeping course A good opportunity to talk about the potential of beekeeping as we had seen during our recent experience .


Entrance to Sweetwater Safari Park


White Rhino

In the afternoon with Peter Paterson we were privileged to meet with Dr Lucy King. She has been researching the use of bees as a natural elephant deterrent since 2006. She was asking for help from Bees Abroad with training in beekeeping skills for the farmers that she was introducing “bee hive fences “ to as  protection for their small farms from elephants raiding the crops. The farmers need to be sensitised to the importance of  preparing the provided hives for the forthcoming swarming season as well as the harvesting of honey and seeing the opportunities for marketing all the hive products as income generation. She was delighted to be invited by Peter to walk round his garden and see the different types of hives in situ as well as  listen to his wealth of knowledge and beekeeping experience  in Kenya and be able to discuss her need for support with the beekeeping aspect of her work. We shared the work we had been doing in Kenya as she knew about Bees Abroad from her contact with Pam Gregory and told us the tremendous help Pam’s Bee Keeping Manuals are to the projects

More photo’s to follow later

 The last 2 days have been taken up with meetings and working on the way forward, We have enjoyed the sunshine and travelling to a meeting at the local airstrip we had a glimpse of Mount Kenya which has had cloud cover most of the time we have been here .

See what tomorrow brings 

We arrived in Nairobi on Wednesday 31st staying at Karen overnight before travelling to Nanyuiki.

We are staying for 2 nights in the ranch house located in a beautiful area of the Laikipia. The ranch holders are very keen to protect their environment and on our journey we saw some of the wildlife able to roam freely.   Bees Abroad will be working with Desert Edge which is linked with Laikipia Wildlife forum (LWF) a conservation organisation working to improve the environment for the people and wildlife working on many different interest projects

Well a few days in Kenya and we have already seen elephants ,zebra,giraffes amongst other wildlife. The weather is in the cool period so is decidedly chilly in the evenings and we should have brought warmer clothing and have enjoyed sitting by a log fire.

We are now in Nanyuki  staying at the Old House Hotel where we will now be based whilst we work on setting up our project. A  peaceful place set in lovely grounds.   Yesterday we met with our friend in Kenya who has been helping during the application procedure for the DFID grant as well as working as a volunteer for Bees Abroad in his free time supporting existing projects .

Sunday 4th we are having a restful day and preparing for the tasks and challenges for the week ahead.

The aim of our 3 year project is to create a new economic opportunity for 900 pastoral households to diversify livelihoods in the arid and semi arid land (ASAL) in Kenya districts of Laikipia and Samburu through Bee Products Enterprise Development (BPED) and developing opportunities to market these products  

John & Mary are waiting in Dubai to travel to Nairobi and will be travelling to Nanyuki to do some of the ground work.David our volunteer accountant and his wife are with us to help with this important task which will be a great opportunity and a huge learning curve 

Well how time flies by 

John & Mary are off to Kenya this time to help set a beekeeping project in the Laikipia and Samburu areas near to Mount Kenya  

Way out of Relying on Donor Aid

How an Orphanage plans to train youngsters skills and enable to see potential for small businesses.
Could bee keeping be added here?

After we returned from Kenya we both succumbed to the gastric bug that was doing the rounds here and this laid us low for a few days but now back to trying to catch up with our time in Kenya

We had the opportunity to revisit  Mr Moinde the deputy director of small livestock including beekeeping. We saw him before we went round the projects and he was interested in being updated  on the observations we had made.

On our last day Grace from the National Beekeeping Station in Nairobi arranged for us to make a  visits to see the Director of Livestock  Production Julius Kiptarus. He made us very welcome and listened as we talked about to the work we were doing with Bees Abroad in Kenya. He was impressed with the groups in the North Rift Valley  Sinyati, Cheptebo Rural Development Centre as well as Chepsigot Women’s group and the school there. He would like to visit them which would be such an encouragement and also asked Grace to arrange for them to be given some protective bee suits. We will ask Grace to make some for the children at the school too.We went on to talk about training in bee keeping and raising the awareness of the livestock extension officers who are responsible to visit the farmers and give advice on management . So the staff will be looking at the syllabus for the examination for the basic certificate in modern African Beekeeping produced by Pam Gregory and Brian Durk in conjunction with the British Beekeepers Association. At the present time those attending a course have a certificate to say the attended but not on the level of knowledge they gained. so this would be a great step forward and had the blessing of the Minister.

We then went on to to see a lady M A Nyandong who is the Senior Deputy Secretary to the department at the Ministry of Livestock . She was particularly interested the womens groups and in the value addition training . We presented her with a  sample of body cream these groups are making.

We are hoping that these visits will raise the profile of bee keeping in Kenya

One of the challenges a group had was the lack of shade  in their  rather arid area which had been deforested in the past – none of their  hives were occupied. We had seen some apiaries where an shaded  “bee house ” had been  constructed with a thatched roof and open sides . Henry our driver talked to the group about planting trees and shrubs funded by themselves through a “Merry-go-round”. He explained that  Merry-go-rounds are micro-finance schemes where  members contribute money weekly, fortnightly or every month. The collection is then passed to one person in a continuous cycle, until the last person is served. With this money they could buy trees and shrubs which are attractive to the bees  with the possibility of  producing fruit and nuts and each member would be responsible for watering and protecting from the animals. We promised to help them with information about the best species to buy

Initially, the groups also known as chamas were mainly associated with women with  the merry-go-round money  used  to buy food and other household items or to help with children’s education  It is increasingly helping  the members grow their businesses, educate their children, and cater for their basic needs as well as in their social lives.On further research we found an article  from Reader’s Digest August 2011 which tells of   Christine Tue, 49, who grew up in a poor farming community, married young and bore children—and never set foot in a school. Today, she manages a small honey farm that she built with Merry-Go-Round money. Tue also raises goats and sells their milk. “I help my children to access the best quality education and support themselves better,” she says.

This is a way for group  members to grow their businesses, educate their children, and cater for their basic needs as well as in their social lives. They learn  money management skills and they can also receive help from the Equity bank who will train in opening their own bank account, keeping records and accessing loans.

One of the things we had become aware of the need to “wean” groups now from donor aid which had cropped up in their daily papers so this is a way to develop their knowledge on how to progress in the future

Well it’s goodbye to Kenya for the time being.  We have had a busy day meeting some government personnel with Grace Asiko from the beekeeping staion.  She thought it was important that they were aware of Bees Abroad and the work we have been doing.


We are hopeful that this will raise our profile in the coutnry and we really hope for some positive feedback especially if they visit some of the groups as they indicated they would.


We will put a fuller report on our reflections and the work achieved when we get home!

All of the groups have developed differently having received the same training support and equipment .Each group is made up with members who having different skills contributing to the stage they have currently reached. Group leadership also plays a significant contribution to what they have achieved and demonstrated to us on our most visit.
We are aware that factors outside our control such as the prolonged drought over several years have affected their beekeeping and honey crop which affected their enthusiasm but their interest has been held by the success of utilizing honey and wax in high value products which we undertook when in Kenya last.
The most successful groups are making and marketing and are spurring on the slower groups by their example The recent rains significantly helped to increase the number of hives that now have bees so having the potential to gather good crops of honey and wax in the next month or two.This years training was on honey nd wax soap making with each group receiving all the equipment needed. Time was also given at each project to talk through their achievements and challenges and how they see the future with the possible lessening of the support from Bees Abroad in due course
It has always been a pleasure to work with rural people who have so little and to see them respond to training and small impute proving that a little given and received with enthusiasm can make such a difference
We will come back to suggestions and advice later

We arrived back in Nairobi this afternoon after a long drive from Kitale through some beautiful areas of Kenya.

We are feeling rather tired but will be reflecting on our trip and our experiences tomorrow so that we can draw our final thoughts together about the trip and the progress of the Bees Abroad projects here. We need to tie up some ends and update the progress against the goals and milestones we have set on the projects here. All these need to be considered before we leave as it is so much easier to talk to local people while we are still in the country.

We were met by Jacquelyn office administrator who showed us to the arranged accommodation. After the long journey we were pleased to feed and rest.
The following day we traveled over an hour out of town to meet up with field officer Everline and on to one of her village groups. Pleasingly their hives had Bees and they had been making body cream with honey and wax that they had received training for on our visit in 2011.We then proceeded with demonstrating soap making which contained honey and wax.The threat of heavy rain making the track muddy we returned to Kitale …

Before our farewell to Cheptebo Rural Developmet Centre we discussed the future plans for beekeeping and the marketing of the hive products and left Joseph and Sally Kimeli with many ideas to consider.
Then the long steep drive out of the valley and the road that leads to Eldoret. Many of the Kenyan athletes train in this high altitude area On way we drove through a large swarm of bees and then on to Kitale in readiness for our work with the SMART group.

It is a really lovely Sunday morning here and we are at the Africa Inland Mission Cheptebo Rural development Centre as we take a rest day
We will go to the Church Service which will be in Swahili but we be the singing as well as enjoying seeing the lovely smiling faces

So far only a few hitches but otherwise all is going to plan. Caroline and Helen from Sinyati. joined us yesterday for the training in soap making which they are sure will be another very good Enterprise for them. So far they have not been directly affected by the cattle rustlers but they know they are near by and could attack at anytime. These are local warriors not the bandits who ambushed the police much further north.

We will be traveling to Kitale tomorrow returning to Nairobi on Thursday to see Mr Moinde to discuss some of our observations and findings during our travels. We will be staying in Karen with Peter Paterson again which will give us the opportunity to share beekeeping news and views!

We are getting towards the end of the trip and needing to think about tying up the ends before we leave. I am really pleased with the enthusiasm among the groups for the new products. We are really trying to provide them with the skills and knowledge for maximising their income from their hive products. They also see the benefits, and we hope that they will find a market for their produce. These are things we can talk about in the last week of our trip so that our work continues to bring rewards after we have left.

Returning to Cheptebo and having time to relax a bit and think about the projects has been useful. It is not easy to get news back to the UK with internet connections being a little unreliable, and not readily available, but we are managing. Things are really going very well on the trip, and we are very pleased with both the way we are being received and welcomed, but more importantly in the results of our work here last year. Groups are doing really well and beekeeping is doing well in general. Hives are colonised and those that are well colonised are productive. I am particularly interested in the value added products from the hive waste. We really only worked on body cream and lotion bars last year, but the groups have taken this up with enthusiasm and seem to be developing a market for their wares. We have shown the groups how to make soap this time and they are enthusiastic about adding this to the products. I am impressed that they are generating income from these and in reasonable amounts. This means that the income stream is being diversified and different elements of the groups are benefiting. Using what was previously deemed waste – mainly wax – has meant that previously marginalised sectors of the community are benefiting and finding a place in the project. This is really good news for us and we are hoping to continue to encourage this. It means the income in general will increase, but it will also reach further into the hard-to-reach sectors of communities. It also means that the project is doing well in finding a place at the heart of the community. We really hope that this continues and while we are here we intend to really encourage the work they are doing and help them think of marketing ideas to increase income.

We met with those members of the group who were available as they did not have commitments on the day. We used a room provided for the group by the District Chief’s office The aim was to make soap using beeswax and honey. We achieved this successfully and then went to visit the grou’s training hives. THese had again been relocated due to problems with land ownership. All except one were in good condition.

This was the classic situation we cover in our training programmes, where due to lack of precautions by the beekeepers, ants in vast numbers had invaded, causing the bees to abscond leaving behind wax combs which already had signs of wax moth. To have the bees abscond is such a shame, and so unnecessary, if they had observed more closely and prevented the ants taking over, but the wax moths will do the same and infest other neighboring hives. We therefore hurriedly harvested the empty combs to melt down, so salvaging something from the hive and preventing further problems.

After this we paid a visit to the school to view the hives that BA provided for their Farmers Club. The weather conditions were stifling hot. One hive has yet to attract bees, but overall it is encouraging that the children clearly appreciate the value of honey bees for the crops they grow.

We returned to Cheptebo to relax and take a cooling shower. We felt that we had a very profitable day and that the work is going well. Seeing hives occupied and productive and doing well, and then to see the school hives was really a good day.

We will be up early tomorrow and leaving here at 08:30 as we will be travelling most of the day. 

I guess it will Friday before I will be able to get in touch 

There has been trouble in the Baringo area with cattle rustling and so Caroline and members  from the Sinyati group feel that their area is unsafe for us to travel too. Tomorrow we will travel to AIM Cheptebo Rural Development Centre and then bring our programme forward  Two members will be traveling to Cheptebo for soap making so we will be seeing Caroline and have chance to chat and see how the group are getting on 

The field visit today was to a Masai who have recently produced quantities of honey but still needed answers to ongoing beekeeping challenges not the lest elephants knocking tree over that have the hives suspended in them. This group is situated some hour and a half drive from town much of which was on dirt and stone road creating driving difficulties to the point that the vehicle became stuck with the solution being finding and packing rocks under thw wheels and pushing like mad never-the-less much was achieved particularly in influencing the new programme manager in the ways Bees Abroad train and utilize available materials with their skills and keeping keeping capital costs down

I have the opportunity today to catch up with news. John is with David Njuguna and  going to see some beekeeping in Lakipia district, Eric the programme manager is going too as he is new to Desert Edge and is familiarizing himself with the field work . I am going to have a relaxing day at Susie house enjoying the sunshine from a distance. My skin does not tolerate the strong sunshine as I soon started to come up with lumps and bumps I was able to get some medication from the chemist and it is now considerably improved.

I will back tract to Wednesday 7th when we met with David Njuguna and our driver Henry We had had a comfortable night after a long day travelling on Tuesday . We had an appointment to meet with Mr Moinde who is the deputy minister of livestock which includes bees. He is very interested in the work of Bees Abroad and is an opportunity to share challenges. The agricultural extension officers are responsible for giving advice to the farmers on beekeeping  sadly based on little or no knowledge.  He asked if we would inform them when we visited the projects so that it would raise the awareness of the sustainable beekeeping we promote.We also discussed training at present there is a certificate of attendance on beekeeping courses not of attainment .He was happy for us to continue the discussion with the staff at the National Beekeeping station. He would like to see us at the end of  our visit for a debrief and he was going to see if he could arrange for some publicity with the public relations department  to raise the awareness of beekeeping in Kenya.

Although Peter Paterson was away on business were welcome to stay at his house in Karen we found that he had another UK guest Tim Roberts from Somerset .We soon found we had a lot in common as he had worked in Kenya for a numbers of years with several agricultural charities

On Thursday  we made our way to the National Beekeeping Station and were warmly greeted by the staff .It was good to be able to exchange news and present them with the Annual Report and the previous 12 copies of Bee Craft which they like to have for their library.We spent time explaining the proposal we had put to  Mr Moinde and they were very much in favour of having a qualification in beekeeping.  They  had arranged for us to talk to some students on secondment so John talked about bees and I was able to talk about adding value to the hive products.This was followed by an interesting question time.

The weather had been very wet in Nairobi and this contributed to huge traffic jams and a short journey was taking hours so we made start about 9am on Friday to travel to Machakos it was still almost gridlocked until we were on the Mombasa road .Our first visit was to the Mutini group on the north side of town.The scenery was spectacular as we wound our way up the hill side into the forested area.The group are blessed with good opportunities for beekeeping with so many trees and the nectar flow just beginning. They showed us some of the honey they had been marketing and also the skin lotions they had been making. We talked about the challenges they had but really they were making great strides  to becoming self sufficient. We went through the processes involved  in soap making making sure they realised the importance of safe handling of the caustic soda demonstrating the procedure but left them with the soap in the molds to be cut into pieces the next morning and then it is best left for several weeks to mature.

Our second visit on Saturday 10th Nov was to the Konza Group  who were situatedat the  south of Machakos in a  more arid environment they certainly have many challenges in producing honey. A way of increasing the vegetation around their farmsteads came from  a suggestion of Henry(he is our driver) who himself helps  a group to make their surroundings green with plants and trees. Using what they call a merry-go round each member of their group will contribute 5 Kenya shillings.This will purchase a good number of plants for 1 member to  to grow and look after. The next week the same for another member until all members have planted trees and shrubs around their holdings . Of course this will help in time to increase their honey production.They are going to take this idea forward and so improve their environment for the bees. We did see some hives but they were not yet occupied but started with making soap as with the previous group. They will need more support from Bees Abroad . We travelled back to Karen to stay with Peter Paterson who had returned from his business. He was unwell so did not have much opportunity to share with him. On Sunday we journeyed to Nanuki and met with Susie Wren and have had a very pleasant time at her partners ranch sharing ideas and the way forward in this area for the beekeeping. We will be in touch again soon with some changes and the reason for them to our programme

Morocco 2013?

Fed-up of the cold already? want to join bees abroad for an adventure?  Join Bees Abroad on the trail in a  unique adventure in Taroudant, Morocco

head over to the Bees Aboard website for more detail 

We are off to Kenya on Tuesday for the annual project managers’ visit to our projects.  We are very excited to be going and are really looking forward to seeing our friends and co-workers in the area of the Arid and semi arid region in North Rift Valley.

We will be able to see the progress they have made since we were in Kenya a year ago when we concentrated on showing how to add value to the products from the hive -honey and beeswax . They have since been making a body cream and selling at their local markets

A training session in one of the villages

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