What we do

Our work

Livelihoods for landless people 

Landlessness for young adults is a real problem in Amhara, which coupled with a lack of formal employment opportunities, is causing severe poverty for many young families – who spend a significant proportion of their income to rent land and buy food. Hunger, exploitation, insecurity and migration are the major consequences of landlessness. 

We are working to give young women and men a reliable income source from beekeeping. Beekeeping is feasible for people with limited land as bee colonies can be kept next to the home, whilst the bees forage far and wide on land belonging to other people. They bring nectar back to the beekeeper who is then able to sell honey, to earn
much-needed income. 

We provide training, in all aspects of beekeeping. Our programmes start with teaching people how to make their own hives – so that once they have the skills they need, they can scale up their beekeeping on their own. The young people we have trained are earning good income, not only from selling honey, but also from selling bees – harnessing the power of bees to sustain their lives. 

Restoration of degraded land 

Environmental degradation in Amhara is severe, caused by forest clearing for agriculture, charcoal making and high populations of livestock. People’s livelihoods subsequently suffer from soil erosion, flooding, siltation of Lake Tana and biodiversity loss. Forests provide the best habitat for bees – in terms of quantity of nectar and nesting sites for wild bees. Beekeepers near forests benefit from higher honey yields and more bee swarms for their apiaries.  

We are working to restore tree cover in Amhara. We partner with local communities to identify areas of badly degraded land which has lost all productive function and bring the area back to life. The community take the lead by identifying the boundary, setting local guidelines and achieving commitment from everyone in the community. We help to build the capacity of local watershed management committees and provide seedlings, seeds and tools and support for gully stabilisation. 

As these sites come back to life – the re-growing vegetation provides nectar and pollen for bees. Beekeeping generates tangible income benefits from this work – in a sustainable way. Other important benefits include reduced flooding, recovery of perennial streams and grass for cut-and-carry. Beekeeping and ecosystem restoration go hand in hand. 


Empowering the most marginalised people 

Improving people’s lives not only entails reaching the poorest of the poor, but requires us to combat discrimination and remove barriers to opportunity. Here at Bees for Development Ethiopia we work hard to identify those groups who are most excluded and ensure that they too can benefit from beekeeping.  

We have worked to overcome preconceived ideas that people with disabilities cannot do beekeeping and are now reaching people with hearing and sight loss and with mobility issues. This work starts with analysing the barriers to their participation – which includes the attitudes of project and government staff – and gradually make changes. Ideas soon change when people see the achievements.  

Beekeeping is relatively accessible to women where apiaries at established near the home. Yet, women don’t always have time to attend beekeeping training or are side-lined by men when it comes to taking honey to market for sale. We work overcome these constraints and deliberately include women in all our projects. We have learned that women still earn less from beekeeping, than men, but the difference it makes to their lives is tremendous.