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The specialist international beekeeping organisation

How to set up a beekeeping project

This is one of Bees for Development's most frequently asked questions.

There are many components to establishing a succesfull beekeeping project.  Failure is often a result of some of these compeonents not being considered, perhaps because of incomplete understanding of the different elements of both beekeeping and development.

The three most important elements of a beekeeping development project are:

  • Taking the environment into account
    Question if the natural resources are available to sustain beekeeping. In developing countries these are often forest assets that are also frequently under pressure from agriculture, charcoal making and the demand for timber and other resources as a consequence of urbanisation. Degraded environments may need rehabilitation before they will support beekeeping. Tree planting, forest protection and agroforestry techniques may be necessary to provide forage resources for the bees to produce abundant honey crops.
  • Taking the needs of the people into account
    This includes allowing access for the most vulnerable to beekeeping if it is to be used as a tool for poverty alleviation and access to the market. This benefits both rich and poor beekeepers but can also undermine existing markets. To generate sufficient income to make a difference, beekeeping has to practised on a sufficiently large scale. This means people have to be able to gain access to the means of production. This means both hives, and places to keep the hives. This may require work to empower people in gaining access to these resources. This may be as simple as showing people how to make inexpensive hives from local materials, or as complex as preventing rich, absentee landowners from taking a quick profit from clear forest felling. 
  • Taking existing technical knowledge into account
    Local beekeepers will have a depth of practical knowledge that must be well explored. Technical extension workers often have theoretical knowledge that is not well integrated into practical work.  This can lead to the use of expensive or inappropriate technical solutions while abandoning tried and tested ideas in the mistaken belief that something new is something better.

Follow our decision tree tool.  This can help you to decide if there is potential for a beekeeping project in your area and will also help you to consider what you need to think about.

If you decide to go ahead with a beekeeping project, use this website to learn more about beekeeping and find more information.


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