The Beehive challenge

It was a cold January day, not much was happening in the shop, when Mr Naylor rang

"I'm putting together a team to work with Farm Africa, your skill set might be useful, do you want to come?"

Skill set - this is how he actually speaks

"Sign me up" said I without much thought, it was cold in the shop and Africa seemed like a very good idea. I have been to Africa before, safari holidays, corporate sales trips that sort of thing, but my first experience of it was our family albums. My great grandfather was a diplomat, and spent many years in different parts of Africa. The photograph entitled "Vera (my great aunt) on a panther 1919" is one of my favourites, years before the health and safety executive would deem this inappropriate given the fact  it isn't stuffed but alive.

and then summer came and with it weddings, and if I'm honest thoughts of charitable endeavours were replaced with peonies and ribbons and swatches of ivory fabric.

Until last weekend, a meeting at the Farm Africa offices overlooking the Barbican, to meet the rest of the team, and discuss how we were going to build 67 beehives in a few days, and the small matter of the £50,00 we are aiming to raise.

In a nutshell that is what the beehive challenge is build hives raise money and awareness. Farm Africa helps African farmers grow themselves out of poverty and end hunger forever. Helping rural families to build a more prosperous life that allows them to take charge of their futures.

Here are some of the questions i now know the answers to, but was too afraid to ask incase i looked like an idiot and some other questions you might be thinking about.

Where are we doing this?
In the Nou Forest in Tanzania - nearest airport Kilimanjaro

Why is Farm Africa working in the Nou Forest?
Poverty is the main driver of deforestation, so our project is designed to show the local community how they can build businesses from sustainable forest products like honey and mushrooms. As forest farmers begin to understand how important the forest is for their future survival, they act as forest guardians constantly on the lookout for anything that threatens it. This virtuous circle delivers better futures for some of the most vulnerable people in Tanzania and at the same time helps restore the country’s valuable forest reserves.

Why Beehives?
Bee-keeping is a traditional method of farming in Tanzania, there is a huge local market for honey

If it is a traditional activity why are you going to build some hives?
To build modern hives (langstroth hives). Traditional log hives are generally high up in the trees, and are destroyed to perform an annual harvest, often killing the bees. The new hives yield far more honey, can be harvested 2 or 3 times a year, and mean that women can start their own honey businesses.
The fact that this project enables more women to run their own hives and sell their honey is something which has really struck a chord with me.

Why 67?
27 for one village, 40 for another. At the end of the task we take the beehives to the villages.

What are you going to wear?
To be fair you probably aren't thinking about this, but it is weighing heavy on my mind, because i can at times be that shallow.

Why are you doing this?
Because it is a challenge, this is very far out of my comfort zone, far away from the wedding world, of life in a small town with hot and cold running coffee and good cheese. And because i have a big birthday at the end of the year and if ever there is a time to challenge yourself, it is just before a big birthday, and because if i see one more picture of a cafe au lait dahlia on instagram i might scream. And like Miss World, I want world peace and an end to hunger.
It is also because i want to see for myself how an NGO works, how does it affect peoples lives, and more importantly who are the people.

What are you going to do with The Hound?
More people have asked me this than any of the above, he is going to Ma Hen's

How can we get involved?
Give me all your money, we need to raise £50,000 towards the project so i have a Just giving page. Click on the link, donate some money.

I'm the editor of a fancy magazine / newspaper can i write about this?
YES - i fully intend to take all the camera memory cards i can carry and spend all my time photographing the people we meet very much like that Humans of New York chap (best thing on the internet ever) So on our return i will be able to tell the story, through the medium of words, hi res digital images, film images and iPhone snaps and video. - i think this is the skill set he was referring to.

If you are going to spend all your time taking photographs, who is going to build the hives?
Ally off the telly  said he would help out with my quota, he might regret that. He made a video, somebody give this man a presenting job.

Have you had all your jabs?
Getting them tonight

Have you built a beehive before?
No, and from the look of the large document and the step by step guide, it doesn't look as easy as i thought.

When are you going?
October the 26th, we are getting the London to Nairobi flight and then a connection to Kilimanjaro. If you work for Kenya Airways get in touch.

Are they going to make you wear that lime green t-shirt?
They already have.

Can we follow your adventures whilst you are out there?
Yes across all the social medias (wifi permitting)

Are you excited?

How many times have you watched Out of Africa this week?


Jen said...

Thrilling. I love every thing you wrote here. "one more cafe au lait dahlia" and the "far out of my comfort zone" really hit home with me. I look forward to following you (at a safe virtual distance) on this adventure.

Mrs Beard said...

Good Luck to you and the team! Very much looking forward to the diary of your trip. An excellent cause.

Jenny Debeaux said...

Brilliant idea but why build Langstroth hives -they're big and very heavy. Why not build top bar hives or Rose hives instead? Both are easier to manipulate and make life easier for the bees, too. No queen guards etc. also, so the queen can lay where she will and the bees can make their own comb rather than following the Victorian idea that manufactured comb is better! There are lots of links on the internet, just look up top bar hives and Rose hives. The beekeepers inAfrica will need to be able to replace/make new hives themselves. Good luck!

Mrs T-J said...

wow! It will be the experience of a lifetime of that I am sure. All the love and luck in the world xxx

Can I donate with Aussie dollars, my UK bank account contains nada!