Business and Finance

Hives save Lives in Africa

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Is the descriptive name of a charity that operates mainly in Uganda.   The HSLA charity with its European sponsors provides hundreds of subsistence farmers with equipment and training to produce a honey cash crop.  The charity is administered by a volunteer husband and wife team based in a Sussex village and a growing group of African managers and trainers in Uganda.  A recent visit by the charities CEO Michael Oxley along with its founder Richard Unwin, witnessed great strides in the development of beekeeping in Uganda’s Rwenzori district.  Not that keeping bees is a new experience to Africa, honey has been harvested for centuries in the bush, what is new is African beekeepers being trained to handle bees using hives that can be accessed without destroying the coloney.  Extracting honey, beeswax and other products is sustaining both the beehives as well as their keepers.

During their visit to Uganda Michael and Richard helped to distribute 200 hives free to new beekeepers to add to the HSLA existing beekeeping communities.  The cost of these simply designed hives is reimbursed out of the modest profits of the honey harvest.   The distribution and accounting of the operation is managed by Patrick Ayebazibwe who has been with the HSLA since its inception and is now Ugandan Operations Director.  He reviews projects, delivers hives and helps train Africa’s beekeepers across the country.   The newly appointed Training Officer of HSLA is Roset Mukande who id a very skilled beekeeper and whose appointment reflects the growing number of women’s group enjoying the benefits of beekeeping.  The HSLA has not only expanded the 1400 hives that the charity has in the Rwenzori district but their effectiveness of production techniques as well.  The region has about 60,000 hives which produced about 200 metric tonnes of honey last year.  Hives Save Lives produced 20 tonnes or 10 % of the regions production over the same period with less than 3% of the hives, so the African team is certainly doing something right.

Case Studies

Details of three of our current projects can be found here:


Contact us

Hives Save Lives
11, Jew Street

Tel: +44 (0)7595 023737


Beekeeping has some unexpected advantages for children in the African bush.  Any one  spending time in elephant country can recognise the damage that they can cause to the growing crops of subsistence farmers.   Children spend long hours beating pans and tins to scare off the herds that eat and trample the food that the village depends on.  This can be the background music of Africa; the trouble is, elephants often come by night.  Children have to wait long hours before creating the timpani that keeps the lumbering giants out of the precious fields.    Elephants do not like bees, a bee up the trunk and a sting there or around the eye is very unpleasant and to be avoided.  African small farms are beginning to use this and site their hives around the fields and as a result villages do tend to sleep more soundly.        

It gets better, the small profits made from honey are being channelled into the building of tiny schools in the beekeeping communities.  The children now have a school to go to, although the book and teaching resources are often pitiful.  The children are better rested; they are better educated in admittedly primitive schools and better nourished on the foundations built on African honey

Peter Matthews – The Foreign Press Association

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