In the UK, beekeeping is often seen as a hobby, especially with famous faces like David Beckham and Ed Sheeran donning a bee suit. However, there is an opportunity to forge a career out of beekeeping, not just here in the UK but further afield too. And actually, managing these powerful little creatures, harvesting their honey and selling it offers some of the poorest communities in Ethiopia a route out of poverty and an opportunity to build a life of their own.
That’s what we look to do with our Hives for Lives partner, Bees for Development. Bees for Development is a global charity that focuses on using bees as a force for good to address global poverty, climate change and biodiversity loss.
One young person our partnership has helped is Alemnesh. As a young girl, Alemnesh was taken out of primary school for marriage; something that is common in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. Child marriage is perpetuated by poverty, a lack of access to education, and the absence of economic opportunities.
Girls like Alemnesh who are married before the age of 15 are commonly illiterate, having missed out on education, and if they leave the marriage and return home, their prospects look bleak. Alemnesh however did run home – though girls in this position are often seen as a burden to their families as they have few skills, and are an extra mouth to feed.
Through our partnership though, Bees for Development taught her beekeeping skills which has completely transformed her life and given her opportunities she never had before. For the first time, Alemnesh has her own money which means she can begin to make her own decisions.
Bees offer a wonderful way to help people in extreme poverty as nature provides the bees, they find their own food and water and simple hives can be well made from locally available materials. Beekeeping is even possible for people with no land of their own. It offers a feasible livelihood option, with good markets for honey and beeswax.