Bee Keeping

Below is the case study for the bee keeping project in Zambia.

Project nameBeekeeping for Poverty Alleviation
LocationZambia, Central Africa
Date case study completed24 Dec. 10
Contact for more informationMartin Zuch

For more information on this project contact the TBN office at
Background, purpose and progress to date
What was the problem / opportunity?Zambia is one of the least developed countries in sub-Saharan Africa, failing to meet the Millennium Development Goals at a relatively slow growth rate of 6% a year (The World Bank Group in Zambia). A report by the UNDP highlights the deterioration of social services, namely education, health, water and sanitation (UNDP, 2006). HIV prevalence exceeds 10 %. Infant mortality was at 102 per 1,000 in 2005. In terms of education, according to UNESCO estimate, nearly one fourth of Zambian primary school age children were not enrolled in school in 2003. Most of the children drop out after year 7 when fees must be paid.
One of the root causes of such poverty in Ndola, where the project is implemented, is lack of diversified sources of income. With the exception of scant work on vegetable gardening, the majority of the people live on subsistence farming, producing few crops, which makes them vulnerable to shocks of all kinds.
Another problem in the area is the issue of gender imbalance. Men generally control the gathering of resources, and the little income earned is often spent on drinking, which is one of the major social problems in the locality. Women often face the challenge of taking care of their children with little or no resources.
Zambia in general, and Ndola in particular, has been known for its huge forest coverage which is an opportunity as it is very suitable for beekeeping project. However, because of the lack of income the majority of local farmers have resorted to the production of charcoal. This, together with poor forest management, weak institutions, and unpopular conservation laws, is significantly aggravating the loss of forest cover in the area. This will eventually affect the whole ecosystem and climate, further exacerbating the problems of livelihood.
What is the Project's vision?The vision of the project is to establish apiculture as a viable alternative means of income for the most disadvantaged people in Ndola, helping to alleviate poverty in a sustainable way and improve their livelihood, as well as education. This would, in turn, further increase the capacity of the community to break out of poverty.
How is this vision to be achieved?The vision is to be achieved through enabling an estimated 2,400 households own on average ten to fifteen modern beehives, organizing the households in schemes/cooperatives of about 100 households, and providing them with the skill training on the honey production, processing the honey, ensuring traceability for fair trade opportunity, and branding and marketing.
What progress has been made to date?To date over three thousand modern beehives are distributed to over 200 households and two cooperatives are formed.
When will the project be self funding, i.e. cost covered by earned income?Beginning from the second year of the project, beneficiaries of the preceding year contribute to the cost of two new beehives for new beneficiaries. The project will be self funding
What has been the direct and indirect impact of the project to date?Since the beginning of the project in 2008, the households involved in the project to date have started to make up to $200 additional income, which is a significant increase in income for those previously struggling to survive on less than a dollar a day.
The process of production of the hives has provided dozens of jobs in the locality. Local people are also trained and employed as supervisors as well as processing and marketing the honey. The project has also provided solid economic reason for the Zambians to preserve the natural forests of the country.
Specifically, how many FTE jobs have been created or sustained? So far 37 FTE jobs have been created on areas of project management, supervision and training, honey processing and marketing.
How much direct and indirect investment has been made to date?To date a total of $250,000 has been invested on the project.
Lessons learned
What lessons have been learned? What do you know now that you wish you knew at the outset?One of the major lessons we learnt is regarding addressing the issue of gender imbalance. We learnt that enabling the household make more money per se is not sufficient to help alleviate household poverty since the income is controlled and often squandered by the men leaving the wife and children in abject poverty. This led a change of approach by allowing and encouraging women to have their own hives.
On the technical part, we had to experiment with various methods of suspending the beehives and swarm boxes until we came up with the most suitable one to speed up occupancy rate and prevent ants and termitesÕ attack. We have also learnt methods of reducing the cost of beehives.
Expansion and replication
What are your plans to expand or replicate the project?Preparations are under way to scale up the project to reach 2,400 households and distribute up to 30,000 hives within the first four years. The ultimate goal is to roll out up to 300,000 modern beehives and produce a total of at least 12,000 tons of honey a year. We are also looking in to the possibility of replicating the project to Ethiopia, where Give Hope has recently launched its operations.
How many FTE jobs do you expect to have been created or sustained in 3 years?Over 150 FTE jobs will be created in 3 years
What help do you need to achieve your goals?Additional funds for the production and distribution of the beehives, building the capacity of the beekeepers and their cooperatives, process the honey
Training and skill transfer
Development and/or transfer of appropriate technology that helps reduce the level of wastage while processing the honey which stands at about 27% at the moment
Branding and marketing the honey to the regional and then international market
Could this project be replicated by others elsewhere? What would be needed to do this?The project could be replicated to other parts of sub-Saharan African countries where there is natural forest available.
Check availability of natural forest, carry out baseline assessment on the socio-economic situation of the area; identify conditions peculiar to the context at hand, if any; carry out community consultation; pilot the designs, methods, and processes at a very small scale for 1 to 2 years; carry out evaluation of the piloting phase; make changes/improvements to initial designs and methods if necessary; implement
Are there documents to aid replication in the TBN resource library?Designs of the beehives and swarm boxes; pictures showing how to suspend the hives and swarm boxes and set up apiaries; information on processing the honey; follow up sheets of performance of each beehive.
See also Bees Abroad,

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Bee Keeping - Zambia
Bee Keeping – Zambia
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