My interest is deeply rooted in beekeeping, nobody can stop me, that is a teenage beekeeper who shared her experience in keeping bees with us.
Sarah Fosua is a Ghanaian Senior High School graduate living in Tuobodom near Techiman Bono East Region. She started beekeeping two years ago while still a student at Yeboah Asuamah High School, Nsuta. She has four other siblings with Sarah being the eldest. Both parents are subsistence farmers. She currently manages 15 colonies and hopes to add more hives.
Flamboyant Sarah shared her beekeeping journey when the Apiculture Development Coordinator of Bees for development Ghana (BfDG) visited her in Tuobodom, Techiman North district.
How she got involved in beekeeping
When asked how she got involved in beekeeping, Sarah said, “I used to sell assorted products on the street and house to house but things weren’t going well. Then I met Stephen – a Master Beekeeper who got trained by BfDG – who advised me that beekeeping is something that would help me. So, I stopped and joined him to do beekeeping.
“Though it was difficult from the beginning as time went by, I became used to the stress that comes with beekeeping activities. Now I can say it a good work although I’m an apprentice on the job.”
Sarah’s beekeeping learning journey
She was asked to share her beekeeping learning journey, and this is what she had to say. “I know how to select an apiary site, clear the area of its bushes, set my hives, and manage the apiary. I also know how to hang swarm boxes to catch swarms for our empty hives. I also know how to process honey and beeswax.”
Sarah disclosed the beekeeping activities she feels confident doing without any help. Sarah said, “I will say preparing a new apiary site and setting hives in that apiary. I can do that without any assistance.”
Beekeeping is rewarding
Sarah shared her thoughts on the benefits of engaging in beekeeping. She said, “of course, beekeeping has numerous benefits”.
She shared with readers how she has benefited from starting keeping bees. “I used to fear things a lot, I would never walk alone at night even in town but now I don’t fear anything again. I can go to the field [visit bees] at night alone without being scared.”
“Though I’m still an apprentice, I have seen it is very rewarding. Every serious beekeeper is not poor. People are making good money from it. My parents are beginning to appreciate what I do. We now eat honey unlike before when we don’t get honey to eat because we needed to buy it. With the support of my younger brother, I know the future is bright for us if I don’t quit beekeeping.”
Sarah also said beekeeping has other health benefits aside one eating honey. She indicated she exercises herself whiles carrying out beekeeping activities – lifting or carrying hives and honey.
Barriers to women start beekeeping
According to Sarah, there is no hindrance to women keeping bees. She believes, perhaps, laziness. Sarah added that once you are determined to work hard you can keep bees with ease.
“No, to me there is no barrier. Beekeeping is like any work so once you make up your mind to do it you can do it. This is a money-making venture and so it’s normal, nothing can prevent me from keeping bees.”
Lesson from beekeeping
Sarah was asked if she has learned anything from beekeeping. She said “Beekeeping has taught me not to be lazy. No, you cannot be lazy, no. I feel confident and happy to do anything I want without feeling lazy. I don’t feel lazy to work. I am not afraid to do anything.”
Attitudes of community people toward women beekeepers
Sarah said “People meet me and say to me this is not job or work for women [girls] so stop and look for something else to do. Even some family members constantly tell my father to let me stop beekeeping because they think beekeeping is not for women. But due to my interest rooted in beekeeping, nobody can convince me to stop.”
She added that sometimes she feels people gossip about her. Some argue about her.
“Sometimes I get the feeling that people talk about me when they see me. People get shocked when they see me doing beekeeping. They think beekeeping is too difficult for women to do.”
Sarah also shared some weird comments from one of her classmates from basic school. “Someone once told me, ‘Stop this work, it’s too difficult for you … one day someone will rape you for walking around at night doing this work’ but I told the person that oh no nobody can do anything to me.”
“Sometimes people doubt my identity especially if I’m wearing beesuit and helmet on a motorbike to the extent that they argue on whether I’m a guy or girl until I take off my apparel to settle the argument. People feel surprised when they see my real identity. Some feel motivated to also start keeping bees.”
A real deal for women
Sarah believes beekeeping has numerous opportunities for women.
“I think beekeeping is a good income-generating activity for women. We can add value to the honey and sell it to get more money. I know we can use honey to make other things to sell and make more money to take care of ourselves. We can make local drinks, and soaps from honey. Beeswax can be used for a number of things too. We [women] can’t continue to depend solely on men for our needs. We can play various roles in the value chain of honey.”
“We [women] need to take advantage of the numerous opportunities beekeeping presents and make money too. Women can easily retail their honey.
“We all know that if a man and a woman are selling the same product at the same place, a lot of people especially men are most likely to buy from the woman. Women can sell more than the man. We are special and have some advantages over men, so we need to leverage that to be successful. Keeping bees is a real deal for us.”
She indicated that a means of transport is a major challenge since there is only one motorbike for them [six people] to use. This, she added, has a negative impact on their fieldwork.
Future for Sarah
Sarah also shared with us her plan for the future. “I would like to own a retail shop where I can sell my honey.”
Advice for the youth
Sarah had a piece of advice for men and women, and boys and girls. “God has already blessed every work for those who want to do it. So, if opportunities such as keeping bees present themselves, please don’t let go, take advantage of them. Be glad you have such a chance to do something for yourself and your family. Let us work hard and we can succeed in whatever we set out to do.”
Appreciation to Bees for Development Ghana
Sarah is very grateful to Bees for Development Ghana for giving Stephen the opportunity which she and tens of others are also benefiting from. On behalf of her colleagues, she said thank you to the BfD family for their continuous support for mankind especially beekeepers and cashew growers in the Bono area.
“We are very grateful for all that you have done for us and continue to do. You gave us very valuable knowledge that we are making money from it. Thank you, Bees for Development. Cashew growers and beekeepers in Bono are grateful. God bless you.”