Bees for Development Journal Edition 140 - September 2021

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Bees for Development Bees for Development Journal 140


September 2021

No 140 SEPTEMBER 2021


The Journal for sustainable beekeeping 1

Bees for Development Journal 140

September 2021

Dear friends Wild bees and trees

nesting places for honey bee colonies is highlighted by our work with the BfD Bee Houses, and on page 18 we review Jonathan Powell’s new book in which he describes his invention during lockdown of making a nesting box for honey bees from a couple of wooden pallets, and noticing how very rapidly such a bee house is occupied during the swarming season - indication perhaps of the dearth of good nesting places for honey bees. Studies on the genetics of honey bee populations in the south and western states of USA show that it is wild colonies which maintain the high genetic diversity needed for bees to survive and thrive. And it’s not just bees that need tree cavities, so do birds and mammals, and many other species that depend on the safe refuge offered by holes in trees. Ancient trees cannot be replaced or replanted except for future generations far ahead. By then the earth might be healing itself from what we have done to it.

Recently social media has strengthened debate between beekeepers and people who care for ‘wild bees’. However as Paolo Fontana mentions in his article (opposite), this is a false narrative – honey bees are wild bees, and more bee species beyond honey bees are being exploited, and deserve our greater care too There are still places on earth where trees and people live together in harmony and one of these is north west Zambia – on pages 10-13 Janet Lowore considers the (poorly understood by outsiders) sustainable use of the bark of trees in miombo woodland to make bee hives. For natural ecosystems to survive and thrive, the local community needs to be at the heart of protection efforts, and the beekeepers in this region are guardians of honey bees and of the forest too. Healthy ecosystems contain ancient areas with complex natural architecture. Honey bees need giant trees with big cavities to safely insulate and accommodate a honey bee colony throughout the years. Every ancient tree is hugely precious, a keystone species containing hundreds of other species across many genera - living in it and dependent on it. An ancient tree and the life it supports are not replaced by planting hundreds of saplings – except over centuries. This lack of suitable

In this issue


Bee conservation is not ‘child’s play’............................. 3 Propolis – from nuisance to new medicine...................... 7 Worldwide Propolis Survey...... 8 Bark hive beekeeping and forest maintenance – Part I......10 Beekeeping development in Mongolia.................................14 News.......................................16 Look Ahead.............................17 BfDJ Hub Update.....................17 Bookshelf................................18 Comment clarifer la cire d’abeille/Processing beeswax.................................20 BfD Connect............................20 Bees for Development Journal Produced quarterly and sent to readers in over 130 countries Editor: Nicola Bradbear PhD Co-ordinator: Helen Jackson BSc Subscriptions cost £30 per year – see page 19 for ways to pay

Bees for Development Works to assist beekeepers in developing countries. Readers in developing countries may apply for a sponsored subscription. Apply online at Bees for Development Trust gratefully acknowledge: Artemis Charitable Trust, Bees for Development North America, Briogeo, British Wax Refining Co Ltd, Charles Hayward Foundation, Didymus Charity, E H Thorne (Beehives) Ltd, Ethiopiaid, Euromonitor International, Eva Crane Trust, Healing Herbs, Hiscox Foundation, National Lottery Community Fund UK, Neal’s Yard Remedies, Nelsons Homeopathic Pharmacy, Rowse Honey Ltd, UK Aid Direct, Wales and Africa, Waterloo Foundation, Welsh Government, Yasaeng Beekeeping Supplies and many other generous organisations and individuals. Copyright: You are welcome to translate and/or reproduce items appearing in Bees for Development Journal as part of our Information Service. Permission is given on the understanding that the Journal and author(s) are acknowledged, our contact details are provided in full, and you send us a copy of the item or the website address where it is used.

Image © Rogers Wasibi

Issue 140 September 2021

Nicola Bradbear, Director Bees for Development

Cover image: Beeswax at its best – beekeeper Aidah Anyango from the Mount Elgon Coffee and Honey Cooperative, Mbale, Uganda agrees! Our training module Processing beeswax is now available in French – see page 20

Bees for Development

1 Agincourt Street, Monmouth NP25 3DZ, UK Tel: +44 (0)1600 714848 2

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Bee conservation is not ‘child’s play’ Paolo Fontana, Fondazione Edmund Mach and World Biodiversity Association, Trento, Italy Laura Bortolotti, Centro di Ricerca Agricoltura e Ambiente (CREA), Firenze, Italy Translation by Giacomo Ciriello, Project Manager, Bees for Development There are concerns among conservationists in Italy about the sale of solitary bee species, under the purported aim of supporting pollination and to raise awareness about these bees, mistakenly defined as ‘at risk of extinction’. The marketing campaign aims to educate the public about the plight of the bees and threats to pollinators. These issues affect honey bees, and therefore beekeepers, but more so all other bee species.

associated with intensive breeding. The safeguarding of honey bee genetics has only recently emerged as an important theme. Recently a narrative has taken hold in the media pitting ‘wild bees’ against ‘domesticated bees’. Honey bees are thus accused of out-competing other bee species, especially when there is a high concentration of beehives in a particular area, as often happens with migratory beekeeping. The alarm raised by the spread of honey bees as a cause for the decline in ‘wild’ bees and pollinators, while not entirely warranted, highlights growing public attention on the plight of pollinators. In Italy and the rest of Europe, honey bees are not the only bees that are bred and managed by people. Even among the so-called ‘wild bees’ several species are increasingly subject to intensive breeding and management.

The plight of bees

The causes of the decline in bee numbers are linked to many factors including changes in land use, and unusual seasonal weather patterns.

Wild bees and breeding

Honey bees in Europe are affected by many health problems especially the parasite Varroa destructor and the viruses which are transmitted by this mite.

The notion that honey bees are ‘bad’ because they are bred and other bees are ‘good’ because they are wild, crumbles readily if we consider that honey bees are part of our ecosystems and that many colonies live

Another issue is the pollution of ecotypes with imported genetics and the loss of genetic diversity

Image © Paolo Fontana

A bumblebee and a solitary bee on the same flower. There are over 1,000 species of bees in Italy


September 2021

Image © Laura Bortolotti

Image © Matteo Marighi

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Evidence of poisoning at the hive entrance. One of the gravest problems for bees is the use of pesticides

Rearing bumblebees for pollination started in the 1980s

free from any human intervention. Little does it matter whether free-living colonies derive from managed colonies, because managed colonies in turn derive from those that lived freely in nature. This is true also for the ‘other’ bees. Some would say that bumblebees and other bee species are no longer ‘wild’ once they are managed and bred. This position however is not supported by a scientific vision.

near extinction of Bombus dahlbomii, as well as issues linked to the inter-species spread of disease. In many other countries where it has been introduced since the 1990s including Argentina, Chile, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Tasmania, Bombus terrestris spread at such a rate to be considered an invasive species. More recently, some countries including Australia, Japan and the USA, have forbidden the importation of these species for commercial purposes and incentivised the breeding of endemic species.

Today beekeeping is practised by many people for reasons that have nothing to do with production and livelihoods, but rather with experiencing nature and transmitting traditional knowledge. On the other hand, the breeding of bumblebees and solitary bees has been almost exclusively for economic purposes – that is to guarantee adequate pollination services to specific commercial cultivars. It may court sympathies to enrol these cute and furry creatures, buzzing from flower to flower, in a bid to transmit a love of nature. But it takes only a few ‘how’ and ‘where’ questions to paint a less reassuring picture.

There are many reasons to call into question the environmental sustainability of the use of bumblebees for pollination. Even though they have become essential for the economic sustainability of many farming businesses, it is necessary to regulate the commerce of these species adequately to reduce risks for biodiversity. The challenge then is to identify solutions that are sustainable both from environmental and economic points of view. Favouring indigenous pollinators must entail protecting indigenous flora and biodiversity more broadly, making farms welcoming and healthy places for pollinators.

Breeding bumblebees

Around one million bumblebee colonies are sold every year for pollination. These colonies are bred intensively, starting with the queens held in captivity. To ensure a minimum of genetic variation, it is necessary to periodically capture queens from the wild. These are caught towards the end of summer, picking queens that are ready to hibernate, or caught toward the end of winter and beginning of spring, when new queens are emerging from hibernation and starting to build their new colony. Generally, spring captures are considered more damaging, as this is a removal of individuals that are key to the survival of that species in that habitat. Sophisticated techniques to rear colonies of bumblebees have developed over many years and are not in the public domain. Sometimes worker honey bees are used to help bumblebees establish colonies faster.

Management of mason bees

Mason bees are solitary bees that nest in small cavities. In recent years several companies have emerged in Europe specialising in the management of these bees to offer commercial pollination services. How are these bees used? It starts with the capture of individuals in their natural habitat, siting bee hotels with straws or cavities of the specific sizes depending on the species. The nests with the bees are then taken to a production centre, where they are opened and the cocoons extracted, following a process of selection that eliminates those with parasites (as if parasites were not themselves serving an ecological function). Finally, the cocoons are frozen so that they can be made available, through modulating the temperature of conservation, on a specified date to match pollination requirements. The cocoons are thus sent to their destination ready to hatch according to farming requirements rather than to their natural lifecycle. When the mason bees have finished pollinating, their nests are retired back to the production centre, and are sorted and restocked for a new cycle.

The bumblebee species that is most widely bred in Europe is Bombus terrestris – indigenous to Europe and western-central Asia. Following the development of its commercial use, this species has been introduced to continents where it was not present, such as parts of South America, eastern Asia and Australasia, causing severe issues of genetic pollution and competition with local species. The introduction of Bombus terrestris in South America at the end of the 20th century led to the

The species used in Europe are Osmia cornuta and Osmia bicornis. Previous remarks about the need to preserve species, sub-species and ecotypes is valid for 4

Image © Laura Bortolotti

Osmia cornuta males and females mating

A mason bee nest in a bee hotel, partly parasitised by a beetle. Bee parasites also have an ecological function

mason bees, as much as for honey bees, and all other species. As they are captured in the wild, and selected, handled and shipped as cocoons, there is a risk that different species and subspecies to the ones identified are sent to where they are not endemic. In Italy, we know there are exotic species, such as Megachile sculpturalis from the Far East that compete with local species, especially for nesting sites.

everywhere, and also by the introduction of honey bees to their habitats. This issue is especially acute in the Americas following the spread of African honey bees. In the case of stingless bees, we are witnessing a growing movement of particularly productive species outside of their endemic ranges, without much thought to competition with local species or the spread of pests and diseases. This is the case for example with the Mexican species Melipona beecheii, which is exported to regions in the Caribbean and South America.

Stingless bees Looking beyond Italy, in tropical and subtropical areas of the world there are many species of stingless bees (Meliponini sp, social bees) that are kept for the production of honey, as well as for pollination of special cultivations, such as the vanilla orchid. Around 500 Meliponini sp are severely threatened by environmental issues causing a decline of pollinators

Conservation of bees and sustainability In addition to breeding and moving bees for productive reasons, there are now initiatives doing so with educational goals, supposedly to enhance biodiversity and contrast the decline of pollinators. Unfortunately despite good intentions this proposal is not in the

A queen of Bombus terrestris flying towards a Prunus sp blossom

Image © Laura Bortolotti

September 2021

Image © Paolo Fontana

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slightest sustainable from an ecological point of view: it fosters miseducation, as it reduces these marvellous beings to a mere object, a toy and a slogan. Different altogether is the setting up a of bee hotel, planting local flora, stopping the use of pesticides, and choosing to buy organic food, sustainably produced.

Image © Paolo Fontana

How can this mindless sale of mason bees be happening despite environmental and animal welfare legislation? From a legal standpoint, there are laws that explicitly prohibit the transfer of wild animals beyond their endemic range. However, these laws are usually made for vertebrate species. There is no good reason why they should not hold for insects too. Consider also, for example, the release of butterflies at weddings and other events. Does the fact they are reared by people strip them of their status as ‘wild’ (and therefore of legal protection)? There is a need for knowledge, clarity and dedication on these themes. Superficiality is one of the great evils of our times. Nowadays information is at our finger-tips, yet we fail to focus on the heart of the matter. Bees, with their great ecological role, with their variety of species and habits, yet also with their fragility, offer once again key example to evaluate what is truly sustainable. The Italian language version of this article was first published in L’Apicoltore Italiano N.4 May-June 2021.


Image from Rasmont et al (2008)

(right) Bee hotel in a garden in Verona (below) Subspecies of Bombus terrestris in Europe and the Mediterranean

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Propolis – from nuisance to new medicine James Fearnley, Apiceutical Research Centre/International Propolis Research Group I remember meeting beekeepers in Vancouver, Canada 25 years ago and talking about the amazing medicinal properties of propolis: they were not impressed. One beekeeper said they were trying to breed out the tendency of their black bees to produce large amounts of propolis, as for them it was a nuisance and an irritation for the main purpose of beekeeping - the production of honey!

over 125 researchers with over 40 papers presented. The Conference planned for Istanbul in 2020 had to be postponed because of COVID 19, but the stream of research into the use of propolis did not stop. Clinical trials research began to appear regarding the use of propolis in treating COVID , upper respiratory tract infections and metabolic syndrome that is diseases connected with COVID, for example diabetes and obesity. Rather than waiting for COVID to abate and travel to be allowed again, the IPRG decided to hold an online conference - stressful but highly successful! Over 3,000 people viewed the conference Propolis: Medicine for the Future? with 400 participants from 90 countries and 40 papers presented.

Since that meeting, research into the medicinal properties of propolis has increased exponentially with hundreds of papers published every year from institutions all over the world. My own work includes two books about propolis and contributions to over 30 peer review research papers, with papers illustrating how propolis is effective against MRSA.

Our paper showed how propolis combined with antibiotics can radically improve antibiotic efficiency and reduce side effects. Propolis is talked of as a new medicine rather than a nuisance. It has become a bridge between traditional natural medicines/herbal medicines and pharmaceutical medicines and is proving to be a real contender in the fight against antibiotic resistance, defined by the WHO as a global health challenge.

I founded the Apiceutical Research Centre (ARC) to research and develop ‘Apiceuticals’ (medicines from bee products) and sustainable beekeeping. ARC organised the first conference in the UK on medicines from the beehive with the ambitious title – Apiceuticals: Future Medicine?

Global interest in the medicinal properties of propolis is now a reality – looking at the ways that propolis works by stimulating our immune system, by disabling bacteria and viruses rather than by destroying them. Propolis is leading the way towards a more holistic, gentler, and hopefully, ultimately, a more humane and effective medicine for the future.

The International Propolis Research Group (IPRG), which I started six years ago, holds a conference every two years for academics from around the world to discuss Propolis: in Human and Bee Health. The last physical conference in Sofia, Bulgaria attracted

More at:

Training included best practice for beekeeping 7

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Worldwide Propolis Survey Wherever you find propolis, its chemical and biological properties vary depending on the local flora and climate.


In Tropical Zones propolis contains more phenols and has stronger “antibiotic” properties.


In Temperate Zones propolis contains more of flavonoids and has greater antioxidant/anti-inflammatory properties.


In Meditteranean Zones propolis has a mix of these characteristics.

Why Propolis is so Important The ARC Global BeePharma Project has looked at propolis from around the world. We found that: Propolis can stop bacteria from joining together in dangerous biofilm. Propolis from the South Sea Islands was effective against MRSA - Multiple Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. Propolis from an area where there was sleeping sickness contained an anti-trypanasome chemical, i.e. a chemical used in treating sleeping sickness.

Propolis Geographic Medicine ? 8

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Calling All Beekeepers Wherever You Are In The World Send us a 300g sample of your propolis and we will pay you $100!

Contact us for further details about how to send your sample and claim your $100

+44(0)7980624988 Information including the precise location of the sample, a description of local flora, the date and time when the sample was collected will be required.

James Fearnley founded the Apiceutical Research Centre in 2011. ARC is a not-for-profit organisation, devoted to researching the medicinal properties of bee products and to their sustainable production. ARC is run be an international board of scientists. In 2016 James founded the IPRG (International Propolis Research Group) which runs bi-annual conferences on propolis in human and bee health. 9

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Bark hive beekeeping and forest maintenance – Part I Janet Lowore, Programme Manager, Bees for Development Bark is a marvellous and versatile material and is widely used to make bee hives, particularly in miombo forest areas such as north-western Zambia. The use of bark is much criticised by foresters, and development professionals, as being harmful to forests. In this series of articles, we examine these criticisms in detail and propose an alternative paradigm.

Beekeepers test a small part of the bark before harvesting and if the grain is vertical, and not crossgrained, they leave it. These factors: size, species, form and grain mean that only a small percentage of trees in a forest meet the exacting requirements.

Sustainability The main criticism of bark hives is that the removal of bark causes the tree to die. Yet cutting trees to make planks also causes trees to die and top-bar hives and frame-hives, often promoted as ‘better’ alternatives to bark hives, are made of planks. So, killing trees is not the problem here – we also use trees for many other purposes! Is the rate of use equal or less than the rate of replenishment? The answer is a function of how many hives are made each year, from a hectare of a given forest and the rate of re-growth. It is rare for any human activity to have no impact on the environment. With bark hive beekeeping, we accept that making hives harms individual trees, but what about the forest as a whole? Is the forest harmed, or indeed helped, by the sum of all the activities of bark hive beekeepers? The focus of these articles is Zambia, where miombo forest beekeeping has been most studied - miombo forest

Bark bee hive making involves peeling the pliable bark off a tree and allowing it to re-form into its natural cylinder shape, then pegging the overlapping edges together. Both ends are closed using a circle of bark or wood and the hive is allowed to dry before hanging in a tree to attract a swarm of bees. Only certain tree species are suitable for making bark hives. In the North Western Province (NWP) of Zambia the preferred species include Brachystegia boehmii, Brachystegia spiciformis and Julbernardia paniculata. Trees of the right size and shape must be selected but some trees which appear suitable do not have the necessary crossgrained fibres to give the resulting hive its strength.

Images © Bees for Development

Hives are placed many metres apart, a pattern which reflects the dispersed way trees are used for hive making – tree use is not intensively concentrated


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Dimas Sakalechi making a bark hive in Ikelenge. In NWP Zambia there is no evidence that after generations of bark hive making, beekeepers are obliged to use smaller trees. Hive making activities have not led to a shortage of suitable trees. Some beekeepers report shifting working locations in response to localised shortages and returning once smaller trees reach maturity

Offtake versus replenishment

beekeeping extends also throughout Angola, DR Congo, Mozambique and Tanzania.

A way to consider whether the rate of use is matched by the rate of replenishment is to analyse data about the number of beekeepers, the area of forest from which they harvest bark, the number of hives they make each year (a function of longevity of each hive and number of hives owned) and the rate of tree growth.

Some people argue against bark hive beekeeping because of the colony management limitations posed by fixed-comb hives. We refer you to other articles which report on the bee health advantages of fixedcomb hives and their success in yielding very large volumes of honey, visit

Bark is removed from the stems of living trees to make hives. The trees do not recover but the rate of use in NWP Zambia is sustainable

Bark hives underpin a beekeeping system where beekeepers efficiently manage the resources they have – bark, bees, bee forage and their own labour and skills to harvest high quality honey and beeswax 11

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This question, in relation to NWP Zambia was considered by Clauss (1992). His results indicated that 3.1 trees were used per km2, while the estimated number of suitable specimens to be 224 trees per km2. At this rate of use, given the availability of suitable trees, a regrowth period of 72 years would allow for sustainability, and it is likely that hive-sized trees are less than 72 years old. A subsequent estimation using data from IFAD in 1999 concluded ‘the overall number of trees remain in a range that implies relatively low levels of damage, which are likely to be within the limits of replacement’. These estimates were updated (Mickels-Kokwe, 2006). Her assumptions included an increase in number of beekeepers, an increase in number of hives made per beekeeper and a decrease in forest area. As a consequence of her extrapolations she concluded that by 2006 the rate of tree use per km2 had risen from 3.1 to 4.9 which pushed the necessary regrowth period from 72 years down to 45 years, whereas other data (Stromgaard, 1985) suggested that trees of bark-making dimensions are 50 years old.

significant increase in the intervening years. Have the concerns posed by Mickels-Kokwe in 2006 materialised in NWP Zambia?

Are beekeepers using smaller trees to make bark hives?

In my research (2018) I measured trees used to make hives. The average diameter over bark of trees used to make hives was 35cm with average hive diameter 30cm. Clauss (1992) reports that in Mwinilunga, hives are typically 20-25cm in diameter, whilst Simplified beekeeping with bark hives (Forestry Department, n.d.) states that hives should be 120cm long and 30cm in diameter. These results suggest that hives made in 2018 are no smaller than in previous years and suggest that Mickel-Kokwe’s first warning that beekeepers will be constrained by lack of hive material and be forced to user smaller trees is not the case – or at least not in this location. During interviews, beekeepers explained that if they face difficulty in finding trees suitable for hives, they do not use smaller trees because that would be a waste of effort. Smaller hives may not attract or accommodate a bee colony which results in lower honey yields or total failure. Their tactic is to look for trees elsewhere. In Ikelenge and Mwinilunga beekeepers are not constrained provided they are willing to walk long distances: maybe a problem for the beekeeper, but not for the forest – this is a well –

Mickels-Kokwe warns against jumping to conclusions that bark hive beekeeping causes deforestation and explains that the selective nature of the harvest minimises the overall impact of the activity. It is important to remember that while Clauss estimated there to be 224 suitable trees per km2, there are thousands of other trees in the same area which are not impacted by hive-making because they are not suitable. Mickels-Kokwe (2006) does suggest four possible concerns:

• Trees suitable for hive-making may become scarce, obliging beekeepers to use smaller trees • The constant off-take of suitable trees may erode the genetic base • Removal of trees for hive-making may reduce nectar availability • Pressure on specific trees may change the woodland composition We examine this question again, but not by trying to recalculate the current rate of use, through measuring and counting trees, hives and beekeepers, because there is significant room for error. In my research (Lowore, 2016-2018) I learned that the largest honey buying company in NWP Zambia, Forest Fruits Ltd (FFL) buys from 3,000 registered beekeepers, a far smaller number than the 17,640 beekeepers estimated by Mickels-Kokwe in 2006 – although of course not every beekeeper sells to FFL. The area of forest used for beekeeping in Zambia is estimated but does not consider that Zambian beekeepers extend their activities into DR Congo and Angola (confirmed by beekeepers I worked with in 2018). The number of hives made each year by one beekeeper varies depending on the prevailing honey prices and the reliability of the honey market, but there is a selfimposed limit set simply by the effort of the beekeeper. Most beekeepers do all their own work, with possibly one helper. They do not have time to make and maintain hives in ever greater numbers. In 1992, Clauss recorded the average hive ownership of beekeepers in Mwinilunga to be 110, my research suggested that the average ownership was 89-115 hives each, so no

A typical hive site in Mwinilunga, Zambia. Most trees are unsuitable for hive-making – crooked or the bark is not useable – but are maintained for their nectar, pollen, and other benefits 12

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established conservation tactic: desist from harvesting from places of scarcity and shift to places of abundance.

Changes to genetic base and woodland composition? Does the constant removal of suitable trees erode the genetic base and hinder natural regeneration? Information about the age of seed-bearing of miombo species is hard to find. One report notes that ‘Julbernardia globiflora reproduces while still a small sapling and Brachystegia only reproduces when the plant emerges in the canopy’ (Campbell, 1996). Trees of diameter 34cm, 135m above ground, are between 40-60 years old (Stromgaard, 1985) and have had several years of seed bearing by the time of harvest. On B. spiciformis it is noted that ‘The ground under the trees is frequently saturated with seedlings’ (Bingham, 2010). The tree species used for hive-making are not uncommon and not endangered: B. spiciformis is reported to be the most widespread of the Brachystegia sp (Bingham 2010) and a recent Zambia land cover report records that B. spiciformis and J. paniculata are the two most abundant species in Zambia (ILUA II, 2016). These are two of the most preferred tree species for hive-making. Bark hive making has been occurring at scale for decades in Zambia and these two tree species are still abundant, suggesting that fear that they are failing to regenerate because seed-bearing trees have been removed is unfounded.

Beekeepers are not wasteful: where possible they make several hives from one tree


There is no evidence that using bark to make hives has a negative impact on the health of the forest ecosystem. In the next article we recognise that the first people to notice shortage of hive-making trees will be the beekeepers themselves and we will report their experiences. In the final article we will return to the question of trade-offs and consider the wider impact of bark hive beekeeping on the environment, rather than looking narrowly at hive making alone, and explore whether the forest is helped or harmed, by the sum of all the activities of bark hive beekeepers.

It is widely understood by forest ecologists that miombo woodland withstands moderate harvesting pressure without regeneration potential being harmed. Work done by Chidumayo (2013) reports, ‘Where these [biomass] losses were relatively small in relation to the standing biomass, no obvious impact was observed in standing biomass stocks. A decrease in tree population appeared to reduce competition and enhanced the growth of the surviving trees and in many cases the standing biomass either remained the same or actually increased’.

References BINGHAM,M.G. (2010). Notes on Zambian trees: Brachystegia spiciformis - Muputu. Black Lechwe, 17(1), 16–18. CAMPBELL,B. (1996). The Miombo in Transition: Woodlands and Welfare in Africa. The Miombo in Transition: Woodlands and Welfare in Africa. Bogor: Center for International Forestry Research. Retrieved from pgis=1

The impact of light canopy removal on seedling recruitment is also noted by other forest scientists. ‘The high level of recruitment of saplings from the seedling pool that have been stunted suggests that further development of seedlings with well-established roots is suppressed by the woodland canopy. Lees (1962) also observed that old but stunted seedlings of many miombo woodland trees are heliophytic and require high light intensities to develop and grow’. The implication of this capacity to sustain regrowth is that miombo woodland can sustain heavy cutting pressures (Campbell 1996).

CHIDUMAYO,E.N. (2013). Forest degradation and recovery in a miombo woodland landscape in Zambia: 22 years of observations on permanent sample plots. Forest Ecology and Management, 291, 154–161. CLAUSS,B. (1992). Bees and beekeeping in the North Western Province of Zambia. Ndola: Mission Press, Zambia. IFAD (1999). Republic of Zambia. Forest Resource Management Project. Post- appraisal report. Volume II Annexes. IFAD Africa Division II, Programme Management Department. ILUA II. (2016). Integrated Land Use Assessment Phase II – Report for Zambia. Lusaka: Forestry Department, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources. Retrieved from files/2018-08/ILUA II_Final Report_Zambia_19062016.pdf

Reduced nectar availability? The largest honey buying company in NWP Zambia is FFL. In the years since they began buying honey their year-on-year purchases exhibit growth and not decline. With exceptions due to poor weather, the supply of honey is increasing. A major driver of honey supply in miombo countries is the reliability and accessibility of the market. Where the market is good, beekeepers supply honey. During 2009-2013, FFL bought 500 tonnes of honey a year, by 2019 this had risen to 1,000 tonnes – all from beekeepers using bark hives. This strongly suggests bark hive beekeeping is not reducing nectar availability.

LOWORE,J. (2021). Forest beekeeping in Zambia: analysing the nexus of sustainable forest management and commercial honey trade. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Huddersfield, UK. FORESTRY DEPARTMENT. (n.d.). Simplified beekeeping with bark hives. Lusaka, Zambia. MICKELS-KOKWE,G. (2006). Small-scale woodland-based enterprises with outstanding economic potential: the case of honey in Zambia. Bogor: Center for International Forestry Research. STROMGAARD,P. (1985). Biomass, growth and burning of woodland in a shifting cultivation area of South Central Africa. Forest Ecology and Management, 12, 163–178.


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Beekeeping development in Mongolia Togtokhbayar Norovsambuu, Head of Professor’s Team, School of Animal Sciences and Biotechnology, Mongolian University of Life Sciences, Ulaanbaator, Mongolia Beekeeping is one of the important and indispensable sectors for the creation of ‘green’ jobs and the reduction of rural poverty.

Khalkhgol, soum of Dornodaimag, Batshireet and Binder soums of Khentiiaimag, with the relevant contracts signed with beekeepers. Other training courses including beekeeping technology, teaching methods, internal audit, consulting, and capacity building for beekeepers were organised for advisors and workers in honey packing factories.

Issues and resolutions

To increase the volume and quality of honey by strengthening the professional capacity of beekeepers, as well as increasing their income, many projects and programmes were implemented with international donor organisations.

Outcomes In addition to the training, the Project published six books and, in co-operation with the Mongolian Beekeepers Association, a series of 15 short films on Beekeeping Technology and Management were created and distributed to beekeeper trainers.

Project implementation

The Asian Development Bank supported the Agricultural Value Chain Project to improve the technical and marketing capacity of bee sector enterprises, the technical capacity of farmers and herders, and the processors. The Project aimed to establish a process for brand development and management that is sustainable and replicable by institutions.

During the three years of the Project, beekeepers have been applying what they have learned, growing the number of bee colonies and increasing the amount of honey produced. As a result, Mongolia now produces high-quality honey for supply to both domestic and international markets.

It aimed to facilitate matchmaking between selected Mongolian enterprises and international brands, and to establish brand partnership agreements between at least three Project enterprises and international brands. The Project entered into cooperation agreements with Gachuurt, Mihachi, Permakultur development, and Ikh Ord Aurag companies which receive honey from beekeepers. In this framework, ten module training courses were organised to improve the technical knowledge and skills of the beekeepers – there were 322 participants (147 men and 175 women). The training included best practice procedures for beekeeping, how to evaluate and identify business needs, make business plans, write proposals and adopt good agricultural practices to produce good quality honey to meet international standards and export requirements. After the training, 54 beekeepers were awarded Certificates of Competence.

Images © Togtokhbayar Norovsambuu

Veterinarians play an important role in the bee sector establishing a traceability system to verify bee products and 130 (55 men and 75 women) also undertook training. This included colony structure and inspection methods, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of bee diseases and the services provided by province and soum veterinary units, and the requirements of good agricultural practices. Those who completed five modules were awarded with a certificate. To create a honey tracking system implemented by JICA, veterinary service units have signed cooperation agreements and continued work for discussion and approval of the veterinary and sanitary certificates of origin by the meeting of the Representatives of the Citizens of the soum. These documents have been approved in Bayan-Undur soum of Orkhonaimag,

Training included best practice for beekeeping 14

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The author (left) with agronomists learning about strawberry pollination by bees

September 2021

Strawberry plants and hive in place ready for pollination!

Veterinarians on their training course 15

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NEWS THE GAMBIA After completing my training, I started beekeeping in 1996 with one top-bar hive. Now I manage over 40 top-bar hives. After harvesting I process the honey, filling small containers and walking around the town to sell it. When I realised how many customers I had I decided to open my shop. I sell also other bee products including beeswax, beeswax body cream, lip balm, honey in peanut butter and soap. I now supply supermarkets with my honey and value-added products.

Musa Gibba, President, National Beekeepers Association of The Gambia, Brikama

ZIMBABWE Success Story I would like to share with you the story of Working for Bees and Africa University celebrating success. The main objective of the Project was for pollination of crops and as a training ground for students and communities to learn beekeeping and to take skills to their respective countries, conservation of natural resources within the campus, and safeguarding bee populations, as well as generating income for the university as the Project expands. On campus Working for Bees trained nine participants from five countries: Angola, Burundi, DR Congo, Rwanda and Zimbabwe. On 24 June we harvested honey from the three apiaries at the campus. Fully capped honey was harvested - this is the fourth harvest since the University apiaries were established.

Musa Gibba in his honey shop in Lamin Village, Brikama The University has agreed to expand the Project as a standalone farming activity. Working for Bees will continue to support the University offering mentorship and training. Robert Mutisi, Working for Bees, Rusape Lovely honey from the fourth harvest

Our honey jar label 16

Images © Robert Mutisi

Beekeeping is a good business. Protect the bees wherever you are. Long live the bees!

Image © Musa Gibba

My honey business has improved my livelihood. With the profits I pay for my children`s school fees and to buy materials to build my house.

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APIMONDIA: 48th International Apicultural Congress 2023, Santiago Further details will appear here

90th National Honey Show 21-23 October 2021, Sandown Park Racecourse Further details If you want notice of your conference, workshop or meeting to be included here and on our website, send details to Bees for Development.


Honey bee and Insect Session World Congress for Genetics for Livestock Production 3-8 July 2022, Rotterdam Further details



BFD’s FUN BEE QUIZ WITH BILL TURNBULL Friday 22 October 2021 at 6.00pm At the National Honey Show – details above

BEECOME 21 European Beekeeping Congress 20-21 November 2021, ONLINE Further details

Straw Skep Making Course with Chris Park and Bees for Development 13 November 2021 Ross on Wye HR9 6JZ


Beekeeping in Cold and Moderate Climates 19-20 October 2021, Pskov Further details

Willow Straw Skep Hive Making Course with Chris Park and Bees for Development 27 November 2021 Ross on Wye HR9 6JZ

APIMONDIA: 47th International Apicultural Congress NEW DATES 5-10 September 2022, Ufa Further details

Sustainable Beekeeping Weekend Course 18-19 June and 3-4 September 2022 Ragman’s Lane Farm, GL17 9PA


EurBee 9 Congress NEW DATES 20-22 September 2022 University of Belgrade Further details

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12th International Meeting of Young Beekeepers DATES TO BE CONFIRMED 5-9 July 2023 Ivančna Gorica Further details

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Bees for Development Journal Distribution Hubs Despite struggles with international mail delivery, we are pleased to confirm BfD Journal Distribution Hubs are now established in co-operation with the following organisations: Bees for Development Ghana, Saltpond, Ghana Bees for Development Ethiopia, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia Keystone Foundation, Tamil Nadu, India UTMT Society, Mumbai, India Working for Bees, Rusape, Zimbabwe Printed copies of BfD Journal will be handed out at local and national beekeeping events and made freely available for pick-up. If you are in any of these countries and would like printed copies of BfDJ email We continue to work with our partners in other countries and regions to establish more Hubs and will provide details as these are confirmed. Please contact us if you wish to help with distributing the Journal by becoming a Hub. Paying subscribers will continue to receive BfDJ by post. 17

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BOOKSHELF Rafter beekeeping – sustainable management with Apis dorsata Eric Guerin 2021 43 pages Softcover. Jointly published by the International Bee Research Association and Northern Bee Books (UK) Rafter beekeeping is the use of purpose-made rafters to serve as nesting sites for Apis dorsata, the giant Asian honey bee. The rafters are a piece of branch or tree trunk, around 2m long and supported by poles, which, resembling a natural branch, attract Apis dorsata to build their nest beneath it. In this 43-page monograph, Eric Guerin describes the practice of rafter beekeeping, with many photographs, and usefully lists all the recent references describing how this is done in South East Asian nations of Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The lockdown pallet hive Jonathan Powell 2021 17 pages Softcover. Published by Northern Bee Books (UK) Here in the UK our manicured landscape leaves few dead trees in place, and this means few natural nesting places available for wild honey bee colonies. It is accepted practice to provide nesting places for birds, and we need more nesting places for honey bee colonies too. 2019’s coronavirus lockdown brought a few positive outcomes, this 17-page book being one of them. Confined to home, Jonathan Powell was forced to use what was available to make a home for a wild-living honey bee colony – this meant two pallets, general wood working tools, and two days of work. Jonathan brought excellent wood working skills too, and the result was a well-made, double-walled hive. Once situated on the shaded side of a tree, honey bees gave it their vote of approval - when it was swiftly occupied by a swarm of bees within two days.

Stingless Bees – Their behaviour, ecology and evolution Christoph Grüter 2020 385 pages Hardcover. Published by Springer Nature (Germany) This is an excellent book drawing together current knowledge of stingless bees, the Meliponini. Just like honey bees, stingless bees live in colonies and create and store honey, they are pollinators, and play important roles in human societies. Just like honey bees too, they face large-scale loss of natural habitat, widespread use of agrochemicals, and climate change. Around 550 species of stingless bees have been described and are listed here, while many more exist. The author has arranged his summaries of current knowledge about stingless bees across ten chapters, and while all the text is fully referenced, it still remains readable. Supported by wonderful diagrams and illustrations this creates a useful new text on stingless bees.

Silent Earth – averting the insect apocalypse Dave Goulson 2021 327 pages Hardcover. Published by Penguin Random House (UK) If one looks at the various studies across Europe, it seems we have lost at least 50% of our insects since 1970. It could easily be as high as 90%. Time is running out, but we are not too late to avert the insect apocalypse. Dave Goulson’s new book is a passionate love letter to the marvellous insect kingdom and a call to arms for protecting what is left of it. The first part instils the importance of insects and a sprawling wonder for their amazing lives. Part II rigorously reviews world evidence for declines in insect populations. Part III collects and explains the evidence for the causes of these declines. Part IV paints a bleak picture of a future where we have failed to act on this evidence. Finally, Goulson dedicates 60 resolutely practical pages to detailing the actions we must commit to, to avoid leaving behind a silent earth and “to learn to live as part of nature, not apart from it.” 18

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Beekeeping in tropical Africa Peter David Paterson 2021 166 pages Softcover. Published by the author (Kenya) Peter Paterson is a hugely experienced beekeeper who has been keeping bees in Africa throughout his lifetime. The excellent thing about this book is that the author writes from practical experience and advocates only the feasible, low-cost techniques that help people to gain maximum benefit from tropical African honey bees. This book provides the information needed for a beginner to make the right choices and understand what will be involved in beekeeping. The ten chapters introduce bees and beekeeping in the tropics, equipment, management of bees, pests and diseases, bee products and beekeeping projects: the basis for success. These are followed by a useful glossary bibliography plant next and subject index. The clear text is accompanied by many useful photographs and excellent drawings by Timothy Njoroge.

Honeybee and Nectarine Vearna Argualine Gloster 2021 Softcover. Published by Trinity House Publishing (Trinidad and Tobago) As a beekeeper for over three decades, I have read considerably about flowers and honey bees, and consider myself a reliable eyewitness to the mutualistic relationship that exists between the two. Vearna has skilfully humanised the story’s main characters. Her treatment of the subject matter is factually accurate reflecting the 13 years Vearna has been managing African bees in Trinidad and Tobago. Readers can assimilate the honey bee biology nuggets interwoven in the story and gain a better understanding of the symbiotic relationship between honey bees and flowers. Gladstone Solomon, Founder and Past President, Tobago Apicultural Society, and the Association of Caribbean Beekeepers’ Organisations

Crop Pollination by Bees – Volume 1 (2nd Edition) Keith S Delaplane 2021 173 pages Softcover. Published by CABI (UK) A practical guide discussing the evolutionary and ecological bases of pollination by bees, as well as the management of honey bee, bumblebee, solitary bee and stingless bee species for pollination of crops. The management of some of the species covered in this book is otherwise not well documented in the literature. Three main sections of the text address the biology of pollination, methods of culturing and conserving bees for optimum pollination, and the pollination requirements and recommendations for individual crops. 42 short chapters cover different crops, useful knowledge for academics, agronomists and those working in the field with bees.

Common bees of eastern North America Olivia Messinger Carril and Joseph S Wilson 2021 286 pages Hardcover. Published by Princeton University Press (USA) 125 of the most common bee species to be seen in eastern USA and Canada. 500 fabulous, high-resolution close-up colour photos, highlighting the unique characteristics of each species, key identifying marks explained and a range map for every species makes this an excellent resource for learning about the bees in these areas. If we had a book like this for everywhere that would be brilliant!


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BfD Connect

Reaching people who are out of touch by existing routes. Regular broadcasts via WhatsApp to the phone of everyone who has signed up. Broadcasts provide links to find out more about topics. Subscribers receive messages from BfD Connect and can reply if they wish. We are encouraging subscribers to engage in this way and send us information, photos and videos for broadcast. Broadcasts will send updates on new resources, gain information through surveys and promote your events and projects to a wide audience. Sign up at blog/bfd-connect/

COMMENT CLARIFER LA CIRE D’ABEILLE Maintenant disponible: L’édition française du module de formation Bees for Development sur le traitement de la cire d’abeille, destiné aux formateurs en Afrique tropicale. Après la fin du module, les participants au stage apprécieront la valeur et les différentes utilisations de la cire d’abeille, comprendront les problèmes relatifs à sa qualité, sauront clarifier la cire d’abeille en utilisant de l’eau chaude ou un cerificateur solaire, et comprendront les différents types de marchés pour commercialiser la cire d’abeille. Ce module peut être obtenu gratuitement par les projets et les associations dans les pays en développement et il est également disponible à l’achat sur notre boutique en ligne. (Translation Francine Sagar) PROCESSING BEESWAX This Bees for Development Training Module is intended for use by trainers in tropical Africa. At the end of the Module, course participants will appreciate the value and different uses of beeswax, understand issues regarding its quality, know how to render beeswax using hot water or a solar wax extractor, and appreciate the different types of markets for beeswax. Available free of charge to projects and associations in developing nations, also available for purchase from our website store. Bees for Development, 1 Agincourt Street, Monmouth NP25 3DZ, UK Telephone +44 (0)1600 714848 © Bees for Development 2021 ISSN 1477-6588 Printed on environmentally friendly paper and delivered in a fully compostable wrapper made from potato and corn starch 20