Bees for development – the leading international charity organisation specialising in poverty alleviation through sustainable beekeeping – hosted two events at the Palace of Westminster on Tuesday 23rd February – a Bee Breakfast in the House of Commons and an evening Bee Soirée in the House of Lords.
Both events, sponsored by charity Patron, Baroness Anita Gale of Blaenrhondda, were aimed at raising awareness of the value of bees and beekeeping, and highlighted Bees for development’s overseas work, improving the livelihoods of some of the poorest people in countries such Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana and Uganda, Chechnya and Kyrgyzstan.
The Bee Breakfast, held in the House of Commons courtesy of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, featured honeys from around the world. MPs and Peers were reminded that most of the foods featuring on breakfast tables are dependent on insect pollination. At the evening’s Bee Soiree, which took place in the House of Lords with the kind permission of the Lord Speaker, guests enjoyed mead and honey-themed canapés and listened to well-known broadcaster and Trust Patron Martha Kearney speak movingly about Bees for Development’s work with beekeepers world-wide.
Charity director, Dr Nicola Bradbear, describes Bees for development’s international work as ‘…helping some of the poorest communities in the world improve their well-being by providing the skills and knowledge that enable them to help themselves. We provide practical training in beekeeping, honey harvesting and the marketing of honey and beeswax products. One of our recent successes has been encouraging cashew farmers in Ghana, whose crops provide meagre incomes, to keep bees among their cashew trees; this increases the cashew yield and enables these farming communities to sell honey too! Other issues we address in developing countries include the misuse of agrochemicals and poor land rights – these harm bees and hinder beekeepers trying to earn a living’.
Bees for development are as active in the UK as they are abroad. The charity is a key partner in the ‘Bee Friendly Monmouthshire’ campaign to retain wildflowers in hedgerows and verges for the benefits of bees and other pollinating insects. It also participates in local and national efforts to protect the environment, bees and their habitat and runs a range of locally-based training courses.