Get to Know Bees for Development - Laura James

Get to Know Bees for Development

Earlier this year we launched our Hebee garden range in partnership with Bees for Development, an amazing charity that focuses on making lives better across the world with Bees.

We took some time to speak with Janet from Bees for Development to find out a bit more about the amazing work that they do.

How did Bees for Development come about?

We’re an organisation that promotes bee keeping to address problems with global poverty and bio diversity and to support livelihoods of people living in poverty around the world. The organisation started when the founder Dr Nicola Bradbear came to understand that beekeeping had some unique advantages and values when it came to solving problems for people living in poverty. These people living in rural remote areas often have access to natural resources, but are poor in financial resources, and bees offer some fantastic advantages for people to turn these natural resources into income. Honey and beeswax are really high value products so for relatively little input, people who are in remote, rural, disadvantaged situations can capitalise on the nature that was around them and build it into their livelihood and add to their farming mix.

What are some examples of some of the work you have done across the world?

Since we were founded we have worked in many countries and work with partner organisations to achieve the most impactful work.

We’re working with an organisation in Amhara, Ethiopia, doing some important work helping people who are living in disadvantaged communities and degrading landscapes. We’re putting the two things together, beekeeping and environmental restoration, to aid their agricultural situation. We’re working with communities to restore degraded land which means protecting it, replanting trees and allowing the natural regeneration to grow. This helps to produce shrubs and flowers that can be integrated with bee keeping to generate an income for the local communities. The healthier the environment the more bees, and the more bee keepers there are then the more people there are to champion the environmental conservation work.

How did you get involved with Bees for Development?

I’ve been working here since 2005, but before that I lived and worked in Africa in the forestry sector, so I’ve always been interested in conservation and the environment. When I was working in Tanzania and Malawi on forestry projects, wherever I went I met beekeepers and I didn’t know anything about beekeeping but I thought this could be interesting. Then I really just became more and more fascinated and learnt from then about the connection between bees and selling honey as a source of income, and really appreciated that beekeeping was a forestry activity that you can do without cutting down trees. Most forestry activities require harvesting of trees at some point, but beekeeping is wholly sustainable. So I then just became more and more interested in bees and eventually found the organisation.

Can anyone do beekeeping with the right equipment?

You need basic skills and basic knowledge, but you don’t need a lot of equipment and the equipment that you do need doesn’t have to be expensive. The people we work with don’t have the money or the resources to be able to invest in expensive equipment. Here in the UK when we do beekeeping we go to the suppliers and choose from a catalogue and before you know it you’ve spent a lot of money. But it doesn’t have to be like that. You can make your own bee hives, all that bees need is somewhere to nest.

Basic knowledge is needed about bees and the how they respond to the seasons, so a lot of the work that we do is giving people those skills and knowledge so they can do beekeeping properly and successfully.

How can our customers help support bees in their gardens?

There are a lot of different bee species around the world and they all have different needs for their habitats. So its really good if people can begin to get familiar with the bees in their garden, in terms of recognising the type and what plants they are interested in.

Are there any plants in particular that can encourage bees?

I think a lot of the herbs, like lavender, rosemary, thyme, marjoram are really fantastic. But almost anything that’s got an open single flower so the bees can get access to the plants. Trees, fruit trees, and then a lot of wildflowers are also great for bees.

Should you feed them sugar syrup if you see them, or is that a myth?

It certainly doesn’t do them any harm, it’s always nice to help the bees.

How can our customers find out more about what you do and get involved with Bees for Development?

By visiting our website, following us on our social media channels as well. We’re also really privileged to be given the opportunity to go to Chelsea flower show this year, so come and give us a visit if you happen to be there.

Our website gives you information about how you can get involved in fundraising or making a donation or even just signing up to our newsletter, so we can just keep in touch about what we’re doing and share our news and projects on a regular basis.

Find Bees for Development at the following:

Website -
Instagram -
Facebook -

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