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The specialist international beekeeping organisation

Bees, Trees and People project updates

Updated 1st June 2020

Deforestation is a disaster for the environment, but it is a disaster for people too. We see this in our work helping people around Lake Tana in northern Ethiopia to improve their lives through beekeeping. Here, beekeepers face a huge problem: severe deforestation, including the loss of nectar-bearing trees, has had a devastating impact on bees.

Our ambitious plan is to help regenerate a hundred acres of forest, providing bee habitat, and to train young landless women and men in beekeeping, giving them a way to earn a living and to secure a better future.

This project is supported by Rowse through their Hives for Lives campaign.


Spring 2020


Like many places around the world, activities in Ethiopia have been affected by coronavirus. However, we have achieved much while following official guidelines. The photos above show over 500 metres of fencing being put in place to protect an area from grazing animals; this has been done following much dialogue, with overwhelming local support. Two other areas have shown encouraging results (see reports below), to such an extent that local support has grown. We look forward to seeing the results in coming months! We've also been able to continue training of individuals in beekeeping skills, and to thank our wonderful volunteer lead beekeepers.




We trained lots of new and practicing beekeepers in various skills in September. 27 young people learned how to transfer bee colonies, and we provided 22 bee colonies to the participants. These will be housed in top-bar hives owned by the individuals. Several of the participants are already adding more bees to their apiaries as a result of taking the training sessions, and there is every chance of a successful season and a long term future for their beekeeping. 

Participants in courses, Mulualem and Dejamach (left), and Tesfaye with hive (right).



We have selected a second site to extend the project.  Gulagulimabut, also in the Yisala region, is impacted by the same problems following removal of the forest, with rapid erosion of the soil and run-off entering the lake. Planting of this new site has now begun, using native and endemic species that will grow well here.

Planting begins, with tree seedlings raised at Bahir Dar University.
Site planted with one of the very successful and well-proven indigenous grass used for gulley stabilization.  The local name for it is "dinsho".


An amazing 28,000 tree seedlings were planted in just one week in July, following a huge amount of preparation. This included the sowing of the trees themselves in December 2018, growing on, and transport (many of the seedlings were transported by cart to their final planting place). A total of 55,000 seedlings will have been planted here by the project's end.

Much of the surrounding area will naturally recolonise with trees and bees, with careful management of grazing livestock.

You can read more about this tree planting on our News Page.



Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cornwall was introduced to a new Rowse product - Ethiopian honey, at the Bee Garden Party in London. Everyone who attended the event was given a bottle of this delicious honey to take home with them.

Bees for Development Director Nicola Bradbear talking to Her Royal Highness about our work in Ethiopia; and the Rowse Ethiopian honey on display at the event. 

Profits from the sale of this honey, sold exclusively at Waitrose stores, are given to the Bees, Trees and People project through Rowse's Hives for Lives scheme.



We are working in Ysala to restore 30 hectares of forest. A major task has been to stabilise an active and eroding gully.

BEFORE: The site was devoid of vegetation and actively eroding, losing tons of soil each year.
NOW: Already the site is recovering with some herbs and seedlings emerging. 

Three arc weirs have been constructed for gully stabilisation in the much-degraded downstream area of the site. This project is a joint effort, with the local community taking the lead, and financial and technical support provided by Bees for Development Ethiopia.

Shiferaw Chekle, one of the strongest advocates from the local community explained, “We were trying to arrest this erosion by ourselves. But we have had some difficulties related to lack of skill and material scarcity. The project’s intervention in filling these gaps means a lot to us. We expect we will see good results and we will see our endangered natural resource conserved through this activity. We are committed to this initiative”.


Bees for Development has given the first phase of beekeeping training to thirty-six new beekeepers in Ysala in February and March 2019. So far, they have learned the basics of beekeeping, how to make top-bar hives and how to set up a small-scale apiary.

Photos: Efrem our beekeeper trainer explaining the principles of hive-making

New beekeepers Mantegbosh and Birtu Aschalew learning how to make their own hives – learning by doing.

21 men and 15 women received the training. In this part of Ethiopia women and girls are marginalised and often excluded from economic opportunities. Bees for Development supports women by giving them access to beekeeping – a valuable home-based income earning activity.

One-day training courses have also been delivered to another 37 farmers during this period.


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