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Happy bees, happy planet.

The production of honey through our beekeeping projects in the Miombo Woodlands has a delicious effect on this threatened biosphere.

The industrious little African honey bee can play a vital role in preserving the habitats of its largest neighbours.


When Musanya Honey’s founder first assessed the potential of the honey fields of the Miombo Woodlands, it was at the request of wildlife conservation interests in the region. The constant trade-off between human settlement and the preservation of the natural environment is the survival of nature versus the interests of people.

Communities living here were clearing the forest to make way for subsistence crops. They were also cutting down trees to produce charcoal and meet the local demand – in the absence of electricity supply – for fuel for cooking.

Interestingly enough, traditional beekeeping using old-fashioned ‘bark hives’ also accounted for up to 15% of indigenous tree loss. Trees are ring-barked and left to die, while the bark is formed into a cylindrical hive for wild bees.

Zambian Conservation
Forest clearance for charcoal and crops threatens the ecological balance of the region.
Bark hives are an existential threat to indigenous trees.

Interestingly enough, traditional beekeeping using old-fashioned ‘bark hives’ also accounted for up to 15% of indigenous tree loss. Trees are ring-barked and left to die, while the bark is formed into a cylindrical hive for wild bees.

Together, these activities accounted for most of the deforestation of a vast strip of deciduous savannah woodland that lies across the waist of sub-Saharan Africa. From northern Mozambique and southern Tanzania on the east coast, across Malawi, northern Zimbabwe, Zambia, the southern DRC and across the highlands of central Angola to its Atlantic coast.

When the Amazon was burning in 2019 and the world watched as similar fires blazed in Africa, it was the Miombo Woodlands that were alight. As the trees and the undergrowth burned, so did the small game and their habitat. The loss of natural cover for bigger wildlife meant they were easy prey for hungry poachers.


Organisations working in conservation locally strive to create sources of income for local communities so they did not need to harm trees for a livelihood. In a developing country at the heart of Africa, finding gainful occupations for people in remote area is a challenge.

“Life in rural Zambia gets sweeter every day as Musanya Honey Co. delivers hives and collects the harvest from our community beekeepers.”

Teaching people about beekeeping can potentially improve their lives and save the woodlands.

Nature had a solution though. Honey has been harvested among these trees for centuries. Bees thrive in the woodlands whose semi-deciduous, sub-tropical trees produce a rich spray of blossoms after the rain. The flowers provide a rich feast for the little workers, so wild hives teem in the woodlands.

Musanya’s founder, Jacques Hurter, asked to assess the quality and viability of honey production, made several trips into the Miombo Woodlands. He spoke to traditional beekeepers, tasted honey and visited hive sites deep among the trees.

What was most striking for him was the abundance of bees and the richness of the honey in the region.

He was struck by the lack of development and the apparent material poverty of people living in a region that offered such natural gifts. The bees and these beautiful trees could easily provide for people’s material needs. With some training in basic beekeeping methods and using modern harvesting processes, the poorest settlements could produce high quality honey for the international market.

Honey produced by the bees from these semi-deciduous trees is incredibly rich and pure.

People First

One of the observations from early fact-finding trips was just how hard-working people in these far-flung rural communities were. Everything the developed world takes for granted is a chore out in these sub-tropical woodlands. It’s back-breaking work.

Water is drawn from a river or a well and carried home. Cooking fires fueled with charcoal must be lit and tended for every meal. Land must be cleared for planting, kept free of weeds, fenced against wildlife, watered and finally, harvested. Schools are few and often far from small homesteads or settlements. Healthcare is in the hands of nurses in a few regional clinics and village midwives deliver babies.

The struggle of these communities’ daily lives was played out against the backdrop of a thriving ecosystem dripping in a wealth of honey. Musanya Honey was established to change that. From our launch date in January 2019, we set out to change the lives of people buy using the bees and their woodland home to bring meaningful and sustainable development in partnership with local leaders.

Running water and other services are almost non-existent, but the bees can provide so much through honey production.

Joining Hands

Introducing beekeeping as a means of earning a living had an immediate benefit for the environment. By working hand-in-hand with people living in the woodlands and demonstrating how the trees could provide a better livelihood than crops, attitudes began to change.

Making honey a cash crop for families immediately assigns a value to the bees and the trees they rely on for food. The environment is given a monetary value.

This means that for the good of the beekeeper’s family and successive generations, the delicate Miombo biosphere is an asset worth protecting and preserving. Training on the environment and its preservation is therefore a first principle for our project.

By joining hands with people who live in such close proximity with nature, we ensure the preservation of two of our most precious assets. Bees feed us by pollenating crops, and the trees help us breathe.

Box of Goods

The hives we manufacture and distribute to kickstart this agri-business for our farmers are extremely efficient. They have the capacity to deliver as much as 20 kg of rich, raw honey each season. With ten units allocated per family and over ten thousand distributed to date, the impact is enormous.

Families in the project are given 10 hives each to begin their beekeeping  journey.

Built to last ten years or more, our hive boxes are made with locally sourced timber from sustainable plantations. By adapting a Kenyan design for an easy-to-use top-bar hive, we provide a simple, robust hive for our farmers to use.

Musanya’s global network and beekeeping expertise ensures that the honey can reach lucrative markets. This brings the benefit of good prices to our beekeepers and connects them with international trade through the traceability built into our innovative system.

Through blockchain technology and GPS tracking of every hive placement, our pure forest honey can be linked to the farmer who harvested it. Yields are logged so we can track development and growth. The GPS location helps us to assess conservation of the trees and establish organic credentials or claim carbon credits.

Families in the project are given 10 hives each to begin their beekeeping journey.

Bee’s Knees

Protecting bees in a pristine habitat under the careful hands of subsistence farmers is a win for the earth. It’s the bee’s knees so to speak. Bees are considered the single most important organism affecting human food security on our planet.

Musanya’s community honey project places value on these vital creatures and on the trees in which they live. Conservation through livelihood creation lessens that the threat to bees from human activity like commercial agriculture, pesticides and habitat depletion in in this remote corner of the planet. The world can enjoy incredible honey and contribute to its sustenance at the same time.

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