We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Our Life as Beekeepers

Bees in tires, bees on containers, bees in trees. Cow dung experiments, bucket adapting and red torch night lights. Ant invasions, honey badger demolitions and water shortages. It is impossible to sum up and adequately describe the ups and downs, the excitement, the despair, along with sweet taste of honey in one blog post. It's been a full-on few weeks!

With our expert beekeepers, Julian Willford (from Bees Abroad UK) and his mate, David Colley, we have been as busy as the bees. They arrived on Sunday, September 14 and we were straight in at our hives on Monday. All looking good there which was a huge relief after my saga of disaster a few months ago... But patience needed now to wait a little longer for our honey.

Louisa the Beekeeper

Julian, David and Joseph drying the cow dung
Making a honey filter

Julian again in his "supervisory" role!
We went to Kayenze last Wednesday to do a two-day training seminar with the Beekeeping Group. It was a great time of training (theory and practical) and although there wasn't much honey ready yet, we were able to harvest a little for teaching purposes ... ok, and tasting purposes! So delicious! Fresh honey dripping from the honey comb! Driving out into villages and up into the rocks until we had to continue on foot, we were quite the beekeeping entourage.

We were gutted to find one of the good hives demolished with all honey scoffed, by a honey badger. That was a first for us. But we worked quickly to rectify the situation out there in the middle of nowhere, getting swinging hives hanging higher. We were also gutted to lose another hive to the ants. But again, worked on rectifying the situation by greasing all the wires the hives hang on. A constant learning game.

After Kayenze, we were in Kisesa ... and this was pure excited delight. Our first honey was finally harvested! Julian, David, Amisadai and I (in the heat of the afternoon sun!) climbed precariously up on the top of a container where the hives were placed. It was such a thrill to find the beautiful capped honey lined up straight on the top bars! We collected a bucketful which we took home to process in our awesomely adapted buckets. The next morning, the honey had filtered through and we filled our first jars! As Tim said, we were beginning to think we were doing a "honey-less bee" project! Words cannot describe how encouraging it was to see this honey pouring out! This is just the beginning!
Honey harvesting on containers

Julian busy filtering the first honey in the living room
The first honey in the jar!
Get a taste of the action (sorry, not the honey!) here with some photos from Kayenze. And I'll update again soon with more stories of Malya bee adventures with wild swarms and stories from the Dancing Rocks, of Rachel the "strong, fierce woman" who can kick...
Preparing to go to the hives
Out to the hives in Kayenze
A good comb of brood, nectar and capped honey

Preparing for the women to go out to the hives in Rangi (near Kayenze)
Quite an audience from the local school children!
The Mama Beekeepers!
Disaster of the ants
Disaster of the honey badger

Our Funeral Procession carrying the coffin (demolished hive) of the lost bees.
A Sombre Affair

The hive brought back

The hive loaded to return for re-baiting

Admiring the honeycomb as we learn to process

Fresh honey on the comb to share!

A bit more honey to taste when we go to process the wax


  1. Love all these photos...we just checked out what Honey Badgers look like...not so sweet!
    So thrilled to see there is honey...we shall pray for more, more, more. Love to you all

    1. Thanks! Tim actually thought the Honey Badger looked cute! I can't bring myself to agree though!


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