Bees for Development has been working since 2009 with Guiding Hope, a honey and beeswax trading company in Cameroon, and Tropical Forest Products, a Welsh Company specialising in the import and sale of honey and beeswax from Africa, to improve the efficiency and quality of honey and beeswax production in Cameroon for sale within the EU.
The Welsh Assembly Government provided funding for the Project through the Wales for Africa Grant Scheme. Now that the successful Project is almost complete, Bees for Development is sharing the new skills developed during the Project with other honey and beeswax traders throughout Africa.
The Project has three aims:
The first stage of the Project took place in Cameroon and involved designing an improved system for separating liquid honey from beeswax comb. This was needed because the company buys high quality honey in comb from 600 beekeepers who are using local style hives across the savannah of Adamaoua, and the liquid honey must be separated from the beeswax comb at the central plant.
Before the Project, 1,950 kg of comb honey were processed every 24 hours, using a series of 20 bottomless enamel basins lined with a layer of straw (as a filter) and placed over a second set of smaller enamel basins. This is the local method for honey processing, with basins left in the sun to speed up filtration. However the heat causes the HMF in the honey to increase.
In the new process, the honey is drained indoors to prevent warming of honey and HMF increase. However the company soon reached maximum filtration capacity, with no space for more enamel basins in the warehouse. Working with local carpenters, a draining table was built, made of local timber and imported stainless steel mesh with 3.3 mm holes and 0.9 mm wire. The new process enabled cleaner honey to be produced, and allowed an increase in capacity, filtering twice the amount of honeycomb in the same amount of time. The new method is easier for employees who can now stand upright to pour the honey and then leave it to drain, whereas with the basins, they needed to regularly adjust the filters and change the collecting basins.
EU regulations require food businesses to follow procedures based on Hazard Analyses and Critical Control Point (HACCP). Through training the Cameroonian supply chain has been able to meet these standards, which are described in more detail here.
You can read more about this Project in Bees for Development Journal 97.