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HMSG Geographical Society Lunchtime Lecture, 29th April 2016

May 9th, 2016

How can bees & honey support developing countries?
Dr Nicola Bradbear, Director of Bees for Development


Dr Bradbear, kindly took time out of her busy schedule to give 67 pupils from Years 7-12 a presentation on the importance of bees for biodiversity and for the livelihood of many communities in the developing world.  Dr Bradbear had just returned from Saudi Arabia where she has been promoting beekeeping and providing education and skills training.  The audience was surprised to hear that honey and bees are popular in such an arid part of the planet and that a jar of honey can cost up to £140.  It is highly prized for its medicinal properties.

Dr Bradbear pointed out to the audience, who were tucking into an excellent lunch of sandwiches, cake and fruit, that much of what they were eating was due to the pollination activities of bees. Without bees our diet would be very plain.

Based in Monmouth, Bees for Development is an international charity and has worked in more than fifty countries world-wide.  In addition to their own projects, the charity has undertaken beekeeping project work on behalf of the World Bank, United Nations, EU, DFID, USAID and other international organisations.  The charity currently manages projects at community and national levels in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana and Uganda.

Pupils discovered that Bees for Development was the first organisation to promote beekeeping as a useful tool for reducing poverty while helping to maintain biodiversity.  The charity focuses on simple methods of sustainable beekeeping, always using local bees and local materials.  They have helped many thousands of remote and poor families to earn essential income to meet their basic needs.  Farmers are helped to make simple, low-cost beehives, turning natural resources into sustainable livelihoods with great benefit for the wider environment. Pupils discovered that 50% more coffee berries could be produced on a single coffee bush if it is pollinated by bees.  There is also evidence that the flavour of the coffee is also increased due to bee pollination.

Dr Bradbear explained to pupils that beekeeping may be the only activity available in areas of conflict, for example in Afghanistan and Chechnya, as the land can be mined and therefore unsuitable for agriculture.  We also saw a fascinating image of old ammunition boxes being used as bee hives.

There was time after the presentation for questions including, how easy is it to keep bees, the bee-friendly Monmouthshire Campaign and the growing concern of the impact of agricultural chemicals on bees.  Many pupils expressed further interest after the talk.

We thank Dr Bradbear for her time and thought-provoking talk and plan to invite her back to HMSG in the future.

Mr Meek
Head of Geography


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