Bees Over Badgers

We are going to Kenya to build fences to protect rural beehives from honey badgers.

Who We Are

Father and son Norm and Andrew Cote are lifelong beekeepers with a passion for helping people all over the world. In between inspecting hives, harvesting and selling honey, and teaching beekeeping classes, Andrew founded Bees Without Borders, a platform to teach beekeeping skills to groups of people in economically depressed areas of the globe as a means of poverty alleviation. He has taught beekeeping as a means of poverty alleviation in many countries, including Moldova, Iraq, Fiji, Uganda, Haiti, Ecuador, Zimbabwe, India, and most recently, Kenya in January 2012.

The current project will return to Kenya to revisit the beekeepers from the last trip and, with the help of local universities and beekeepers, build fences to protect the beehives from vicious honey badgers (the bane of the existence of the East African beekeeper).

The team is made up of both skilled and general volunteers. All travel is paid for by volunteers, who sleep and eat in the homes of the beneficiaries. Any Indiegogo money will go directly to beekeeping equipment and training.

What We Need

With $20,000 we will:

-build honey badger proof fences to protect existing hives
-donate beekeeping equipment such as smokers, veils, and hive tools
-give classes on basic beekeeping
-assist with marketing of honey for sale
-provide dozens of Kenyans with employment in building the fences
-set up new apiaries in other rural areas
-provide stipends to beekeepers in Kenya to attend conferences, subscribe to beekeeping news and materials magazines
-leave behind seed money for ICIPE (Dr. Muli) to use as discretionary funds for unforeseen needs in the beekeeping community

Each top-bar hive costs around $300 here in the US, and the total cost to set up an apiary including smokers, hive tools, suits and gloves we estimate to be around $700. We plan to buy most of the wood and materials needed for honey badger fences in Kenya to cut costs a bit, but each fence we estimate will cost around $1000. We are asking for $20,000 which would enable us to build ten fences in ten different Samburu and Haita villages, and to set up a number of new apiaries. Of course, the more we get, the more fences and apiaries we will be able to set up. What we accomplish will be directly related to the funding we receive. 

The Impact

For the semi-nomadic pastoralist Samburu people at the base of Mount Kenya, a beehive is not just a source of delicious honey; it is a renewable food source that never spoils and can be eaten or sold, providing a path towards poverty alleviation, self sufficiency and empowerment. Beekeeping is an old tradition in Kenya, but the most common method (of putting a large log up in a tree and harvesting it at the end of the season) has several problems: it often kills the bees, so the colony cannot survive from year to year; the hives cannot be monitored for disease throughout the season, or harvested more than once; and due to a lack of protective equipment, bee stings are much more frequent. By providing hive boxes, equipment such as smokers and veils, and information on more efficient beekeeping methods, we can help local people become better, safer beekeepers. 

On our first trip in January 2012, we weren’t sure what the reception would be.  However, we were utterly amazed by the dedication, perseverance and drive with which we were met. We were also humbled by the graciousness of our hosts (who are cousin to the Masai, and reputed to be one of the fiercest tribes in the area; yet we were treated as honored guests). Some of the women attending our beekeeping class would walk three hours each way just to attend our classes. That’s why, when we learned that the new hives BWB had donated had been having problems with honey badgers raiding and stealing the honey, we knew we had to return to help if we could. Honey badgers are strong, clever creatures that break into bee hives and steal honey, kill bees, and destroy equipment; in short, they are the bane of the Kenyan beekeeper. A fence is a simple thing for us to provide, and would be hugely effective in keeping honey badgers out of the hives, but is unfortunately outside the means of our friends in Kenya.  We plan to return to Kenya this January 2013, to check up on the villages we visited last year and make new contact with other people who could benefit from beekeeping.

Other Ways You Can Help

If you think our campaign is awesome (we do!) but are unable to donate at this time, please spread the word to friends, family, co-workers... even people you don't like very much! Any donations of beekeeping equipment would be greatly appreciated and will go a long way in securing the well-being and safety of our fellow beekeepers in Kenya. Any donation, even if it seems small or insignificant to you, makes a huge impact on multiple lives. Thank you!!

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