The history of BeeSupport
HistoryThe BeeSupport Foundation is a continuation of the "Honey-project Zimbabwe", which has been in operation since 1999 under the advisor ship of Jane Aerts and the Green Development Foundation in Amsterdam. In 1996, Ellen Michaelis, the initiator, met the hobby beekeeper, Michael Hlungwani, in Zimbabwe through her work. He is the driving force behind the Kutsungirira Beekeeping Club which was started in 1997. He is convinced that beekeeping can bring people out of poverty.
BeeSupport Foundation was started in 2004 by Ellen Michaelis, Bert-Jan van Wichen and Jimmy Navarro for the increase of support for beekeeping projects.
How it started
In 1996, during her work in Zimbabwe, Ellen Michaelis came into contact with hobby-beekeeper and schoolteacher, Michael Hlungwani. Hunting (gathering) honey was done everywhere but was dangerous for the bees, since the use of fire usually destroyed the swarm and caused fires. The honey harvest was small. Michael was convinced that training in beekeeping (in hives) could contribute to a safer and bigger harvest, thus generating food and income. In 1997, his wife, Miriro, took a course in beekeeping. After a successful honey-harvest, the neighbours were so interested that the Hlungwanis and their fellow villagers founded the Kutsungirira Beekeeping Club.
Ellen was very impressed with the great possibilities of beekeeping for the people. She decided to do all she could to help develop this beekeeping project.
Back in the Netherlands, she approached Jane Aerts of the Green Development Foundation, an organisation in Amsterdam that supports sustainable projects in outlying areas of developing countries. Together they assisted the KBC with the raising of funds for training and beekeeping-equipment. At the same time, they were the advisers and sounding-board for Michael and the club members on all aspects of the development of the project.
During the past years, Michael Hlungwani, Ellen Michaelis and Jane Aerts have spread in information by means of folders, annual news-letters, articles in relevant periodicals, presentations and exhibitions. The result of fund-raising activities by private persons, businesses and the Stichting Doen (a charitable organisation) was doubled by the NCDO (National Committee for International Co-operation and Sustainable Development). In the Netherlands, a network of people sympathising with Ellen's initiative has sprung up, many of whom are also active as volunteers in various capacities.
Founding the BeeSupport Foundation
The success of the Kutsungirira Beekeeping Club led to the idea of helping to develop other beekeeping projects. When Ellen met the Dutch beekeeper and forester, Bert-Jan van Wichen in 2004, the idea became more concrete. He had been to Kenya and wanted to help beekeepers there. In 2001, during the International Beekeeping Congress, Apimondia, in South Africa, Ellen had met the Kenyan beekeeper Peter Otengo, who wanted to set up a beekeeping project in his village, Kesogon, together with other community members. Ellen and Bert-Jan had discussions and made plans and on December 1 st, 2004, founded the BeeSupport Foundation. In 2005, a start was made with the co-operation with the Kesogon Self Help Group in Kenya.
A highlight of the first year of BeeSupport's existence was the participation of Ellen, Bert-Jan, Michael and Peter at the Apimondia in Ireland. Everybody was able to meet and exchange ideas.
BeeSupport is now working on its future form and content with a growing group of volunteers with various angles of approach
Do not hesitate to join us in the work of the Foundation.
We would love to hear from you.