Uyogo Beekeeping Association (UBEA)
In 2015, supported by KUFL, Bees Abroad Project Manangers, David and Margery Blower, who were long-term Kenilworth residents before moving into the northern Cotswolds, made a preliminary visit to Uyogo to assess the possibilities for bee-keeping Projects.
Although a small ‘cottage industry’ bee-keeping scheme existed in Uyogo, producing small amounts of cash, at harvest time, there was interest at district and national levels to expand the activities.
Fortunately, Uyogo has an excellent local habitat, the miombo forest, for bees.
An income stream from bee-keeping based on the natural indigenous forest reduces the forest encroachment for tobacco and other cash crops and is good for environmental conservation.
The Uyogo community were using traditional log or bark hives that had to be hung high up in trees to prevent honey badgers raiding them. To harvest the honey, men smoked out the bees at night then climbed the trees to get the honey out. It was difficult for women to be involved in this way of bee-keeping.
David and Margery concluded that top bar hives might be more useful for Uyogo villagers, making it more possible for women to be involved as well, boosting their economic capacity. Top bar hives can be constructed by local carpenters and do not need to be hung so high in trees.
Top bar hives are promoted at the Beekeeping Training Institute in Tabora, the main town of the region where Uyogo community is located, so they are aligned with local best practice in bee-keeping.
The Uyogo villagers said they could make greater profits if they could improve the quality of their honey and package it correctly. They could sell locally through shops in Urambo and Tabora, as well as to traders; honey from the Tabora region is sought after in Tanzania and Kenya.
David and Margery delivered training on making a protective veil to wear and on how to inspect a bee colony, correctly equipped with veil, smoker and hive tool. Further training followed, on making a top bar hive and wax processing to make candles and basic creams to sell.
For marketing the honey and wax products, it was suggested that Uyogo bee-keepers pooled their resources and worked as a co-operative, rather than each bee-keeper trying to create their own market. Income produced by the co-operative can be reinvested.
David and Margery were delighted to be given a container of locally produced honey from the village. Most of this honey was sold to raise funds for KUFL but a jar was held back, to be entered in a new class at this year’s National Honey Show.
The honey was one of twelve entries in a class specifically for honey produced from projects such as that in Uyogo. We are pleased to report that the jar of honey was placed 4th and rated as Very Highly Commended.
KUFL have sent various beehive-making tools, such as a circular saw and a combination woodworking machine, via Tools With a Mission (TWAM), so Uyogo villagers can make their own top bar hives instead of using traditional tree-bark hives which kill off the trees.
The Bee-keeping project has two separate small buildings: one a room where machinery is kept for making hives, and another room for honey-processing. The machines are up and running, being used under supervision of the Village Chairman who is a trained carpenter and also an experienced bee-keeper.
A sewing machine has recently reached Uyogo’s bee-keepers, also via TWAM, with which they can make their own bee-keeping suits. There are plans to make hives and bee-suits to sell to other bee-keepers outside the village too, to generate income.