News from KITE Beekeepers, Kasese, Uganda

The mission of Bees Abroad, Uganda, is to promote locally appropriate beekeeping to enable participants to generate income to enhance their livelihoods, alleviate poverty and improve their quality of life. Our vision is to be recognised as experts in delivering practical, appropriate and sustainable beekeeping projects that enhance the livelihoods of participants, promoting ecologically favourable methods and general awareness of climate concerns.

Kihungu Thusube Engeru (KITE) Women Beekeepers was started by a group of twenty women in 2016 to empower each other through agriculture with the main focus on beekeeping, tree planting and poultry. They have a shared savings and credit scheme which avoids the cultural requirement to share income with their husbands and so enhances their control over domestic income making them more self-reliant. Their rural community is 45km from Kasese in Western Uganda where the environment is equatorial and well suited to beekeeping. They know beekeeping can provide a good income but lack the knowledge and equipment to succeed. In 2021 the Edith M Ellis 1985 Charitable Trust provided Bees Abroad with a grant to enable them to provide classroom style training and the delivery of beehive kits which the women would assemble and place on their land. It takes up to six months for bees to be attracted into the hives and a further 18 months for colonies to develop to a size where a surplus of honey can be harvested. Throughout practical on site support is given which builds on the initial training. They are given a smartphone with a hive monitoring form which gathers data monthly on progress. All materials used in the project are sourced locally. 100% of funds are spent locally. Each hive is expected to provide an average of 12kg of honey per year with a value of £2/kg. In addition bees wax can be sold and added value produces such as body creams made.

As at August  2022 the group are making good progress. Katerina Prokopiou, our partnership manager, maintains close contact with LIDEFO, our delivery partner, and the leaders of the KITE group via WhatsApp and the occasional phone call.  KITE are one of four similar women’s groups which we started together and who share experiences. The group are well engaged in the project, are maintaining their hives well and their confidence and ability is developing well.

Hives have been in place for 13 months and are well colonised. During 2023 we anticipate a small harvest but nothing significant until the following year. Colonies develop far more slowly in Africa than in UK because they don’t face the jeopardy of a winter.

In February, Becca,  a volunteer ran a series of two day workshops for all our projects in the area teaching them to make added value projects. Although a University student she is lifelong beekeeper and she has represented England at the International Meeting of Young Beekeepers. Feedback from the workshops as overwhelmingly positive.

However afterwards it became clear that without funding groups were unable to buy containers, labels and non-hive ingredients. Working with LIDEFO Katerina devised a microloan scheme which provided the required items which are to be paid for following the sale of the products. We wait to find out the success of groups in selling their added value products.

Katerina visited Kasese in July, met with the KITE group and got a first hand appreciation of the situation which was favourable.