Octaform founder Dave Richardson along with his wife, Pamela, and son, Colby, helped to establish a program in collaboration with WE Charity in Kenya in order to empower community members with a sustainable economic practice that simultaneously helps the environment. What is that sustainable economic practice, you ask? Bees!
What the Program Does
This is an initiative established in 2019 that gives locals in Kenya the tools and skills they need to keep bees, then harvest and sell honey and other bee products. So far, the program has established more than 70 beehives, 25 of which have been colonized (this means that they contain active, honey-producing bee communities). The first harvest yielded over 25 kilograms of beeswax and honey for local beekeepers to sell as a way to support their families. Community members are given the equipment and tools they need to run a successful apiary and are trained in how to keep bees, harvest and produce honey, and sell honey and beeswax products at local markets.
How it Helps Community Members
The goal of the program is to help give the community access to the skills and resources they need in order to earn a sustainable income and break the cycle of poverty, while benefiting the environment at the same time. Beekeeping is a way for community members to earn a consistent income that they will be able to depend on for years to come. The initiative trains locals in apiary management, honey production, and the small business skills required to sell their honey products. These are transferable skills that will serve the people well in other aspects of their life. In addition to providing some much-needed financial stability in a sustainable way, beekeeping is a satisfying activity that promotes wellbeing, self-confidence, and helps to harbour a sense of community amongst the participants.
How it Helps the Environment
In addition to being a sustainable source of income for Kenyan villagers, beekeeping has many environmental benefits as well. Bees are necessary for the pollination of plants and 90% of all plants require pollination in order to grow properly.
The way that pollination works is that bees transfer pollen from the anther (the male part of a plant) to the stigma (the female part of a plant), which enables the plant to produce fruit, seeds, or nuts. This is particularly important for agricultural food crops. One third of all food consumed by humans is reliant on bees and other pollinators, so bees are necessary for food security everywhere in the world, but especially in countries like Kenya where food scarcity is a problem. Pollination is also essential for maintaining food sources for animals (another important part of Kenya’s economy), not just people.
Bees are currently threatened with extinction due to the increased use of pesticides and environmental impact caused by climate change, so grassroots apiary initiatives like this one are needed to help grow dwindling bee populations. The recent decline in bee populations has negatively affected agricultural crop growth, meaning apiculture is now more important than ever.
The Richardson family and Octaform believe that it’s everyone’s job to do what we can to protect the planet and those who live on it, which is why we’re working with WE Charity to help build a better future, one bee at a time.