On 26 October 2014 a team of farming sector figures headed to our Forest management project in the Nou Forest in Tanzania to build much-needed beehives with the local community.The self-proclaimed ‘Bee Team’ worked shoulder-to-shoulder with farmers to build, wax and deliver 58 hives in under three days. This almighty task was made even harder by the team's ambition to raise £50,000 along the way! It's an amazing challenge, and every penny raised will go towards our work supporting farmers in eastern Africa.
Beekeeping is one important element of Farm Africa’s project to help forest families move out of poverty, one of the key causes of deforestation.
While beekeeping is a traditional activity, introducing modern hives means that production can double in one year and the farmers get a better price at market.
As farmers earn more from the forest they become its guardiansand understand the importance of protecting it for their children and children’s children. Building modern hives also mean that women are able to start honey businesses.
The Bee Team comprised seven brave beehive builders from across the UK agricultural sector, all willing to roll up their sleeves and grab their saws and hammers to produce the bee-ready abodes! The team members were:
Adam Bedford - EU Policy Advisor, National Farmers Union.
Emma Dennis - Agronomist and Technical Support, Agrii.
Tom Hughes - Director at Active Soil.
Ally Hunter-Blair - Farmer in Herefordshire and one of Channel 4's 'First Time Farmers'.
Matthew Naylor - Lincolnshire farmer and journalist.
Simone Pickering - Florist and blogger behind the Miss Pickering website.
Caroline Stocks - Freelance journalist specialising in the environment, food, agriculture and rural affairs.
To keep up to date with news from the team please follow their blog here.
Matthew Naylor, Lincolnshire farmer and Bee Team member!
Farmer Matthew Naylor is a long-term supporter of Farm Africa, believing that "once you have more food than you need, you have choices, and that changes life for the better". Matthew talks about how hard the group worked during the beehive challenge below:
"I'm exhausted. Anyone who sponsored me in the hope that I would have to do some hard work for a change can be very satisfied with the result. I think that I'm quite good at DIY but is easy to forget just how many luxuries we have at home. What I wouldn't give for some strap-on kneeling pads and a De Walt drill at the moment".
The team built their beehives alongside farmers benefiting from our Forest management project. The UK farming sector professionals who are faced with many of their own farming issues in the UK, worked alongside their Tanzanian counterparts, allowing them to gain a unique insight into the hardships experienced by the Nou Forest community.
Poverty is the main driver of deforestation, so our project is designed to show the local community how they can build businesses from sustainable forest products like honey and mushrooms. As forest farmers begin to understand how important the forest is for their future survival, they act as forest guardians constantly on the lookout for anything that threatens it. This virtuous circle delivers better futures for some of the most vulnerable people in Tanzania and at the same time helps restore the country’s valuable forest reserves.
Caroline Stocks recalls the experience and how much the team were able to learn from the people they met during the challenge.
"When I first arrived in Tanzania I wasn't sure about what kind of difference we would be able to make in just three days, particularly with my ropey DIY skills. But speaking to the farmers we were working with and the communities we were delivering the hives to showed how simply giving knowledge and skills empowered these communities to help improve their own lives.
It's been an unforgettable experience, and I've come away having learnt so much about cooperation, hope and friendship from the people we've met and the things we've seen".
The Bee Team will be hosting a number of events throughout 2015 to reach their fundraising target of £50,000. You can still sponsor the team by clicking here. To find out more about the challenge or any of the planned events, please contact Sarah Wren on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 067 1236.