For us at Musanya Honey, a hive isn’t just a box with some bees in it. It is so much more. It’s school fees for an impoverished rural child, running water for a village, family planning and primary healthcare for families. The list of benefits beekeeping can deliver to communities in a developing economy is a long one.
Our starting point of course was to find a way to provide a reliable income for communities by introducing honey farming. Social upliftment through beekeeping is not a new idea, we simply adapted it and added some Musanya innovation.
Providing the hives and training in bee husbandry for free, then guaranteeing a buy-back of all production was our starting point. The clever tweak came in recruiting families into the beekeeping project.
Families are the building blocks of a community. In families, information is shared, labour divided, and there is a very high likelihood that income will be spent for the benefit of the community at large. Schools for children, running water, clinics and other developmental milestones are on the cards wherever Musanya’s hives are buzzing with bees.
When it comes to the hives themselves, there has been innovation both in a practical and in the economic sense. By adapting a Kenyan design for the ‘top bar hive’ we have come up with a unit that is robust and simple – perfectly suited for remote sub-tropical conditions.
The hive is produced in modular format and shipped flat-packed. This innovation allows us to deliver more hives at a time which is important considering that we had distributed almost 10,000 hives by February 2020. Furthermore, the units are easily and quickly assembled on site with just a hammer and a pair of pliers.
By reaching out and forming strategic relationships locally, we are also able to be innovative in the realm of sustainability and the local economy. All the lumber for our hives is locally sourced from the sustainable plantations operated by the para-statal Zaffico entity.
Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation has several plantations in the Copper Belt region. Purchasing timber from them ensures that money for raw materials circulates within the local economy.
Through the use of technology readily available on mobile phones, our team is recording the precise GPS location of every Musanya hive. This help with our organic certification, as proximity to tarred roads, commercial agriculture and industry can be traced. Our beekeeper’s contribution to preserving forested areas will reflect in carbon credits using this information too.
At every level and in the face of each new challenge, Musanya Honey Co. is using creative strategies and innovation to change the lives of rural African families.