During 2014, Lewis County Beekeepers' Association adopted a memorandum of understanding with the Kisii Rural Education and Empowerment Coalition (KiReeCo), a group of beekeepers in Kenya founded by former LCBA member Wilma Sofranko, making the two sister beekeeping organizations.
The MOU was not renewed, but LCBA wishes KiReeCo best wishes for future success, and members communicate about KiReeCo's progress and questions. To read the history of the LCBA/KiReeCo relationship, click here.
For LCBA Secretary Susanne Weil's slideshow about our volunteers' work in Kisii in October-November 2014, click here.
Scroll down for more details.
Background: One of LCBA's early members, Wilma Sofranko, spoke at LCBA's February 2013 meeting about her plans to help farmers in the Kisii region of Kenya practice sustainable beekeeping. Kisii farmers who wished to harvest honey set fires beneath old top bar hives to drive out the bees. Yet if they could harvest more sustainably, they could have a source of income to help send their children to secondary school, which is not free in their province and so beyond reach of these subsistence farmers. For Wilma's February 2013 slideshow, click here.
LCBA worked with the Washington State Beekeepers' Association to provide WSBA's Apprentice Beekeeping curriculum to those seeking training for only the cost of handbooks. In July 2013, LCBA held a drawing for donated items to help fund the training. The training was completed by over 50 beekeepers, who then founded the KiReeco Beekeeping Association.
2014 MOU Proposal: At our February 2014 meeting, Wilma reported on KiReeco's progress: after the success of the first training, over 500 now wanted to take the course in October-November 2014. (For Wilma Sofranko's February 2014 slideshow, click here.) KiReeCo invited LCBA to sign an MOU to become their sister organization, “to work in partnership to train farmers in humane beekeeping and honey production, help them set up a hive production program and workshop on their school campus, assist them in designing and producing a commercial extractor with assistance from KiReeCo volunteer technicians, and working together to share information, experiences, and data on beekeeping, honey production, livelihood impact, and other areas of concern to both groups.” LCBA's support of KiReeco was through information sharing, volunteer work, and targeted fundraisers – funds did not come out of LCBA’s association dues.
LCBA's Board believed that it was important to ask the membership to vote on this initiative rather than simply move and approve it at the board level. This was a major new initiative for LCBA to take on, so it was felt that association members should approve or disapprove it. At the August 13 monthly meeting, the MOU was accepted by a vote of 32 for, 2 against. To read the MOU, click here.
Hive Building Support: Those interested in helping KiReeco beekeepers get started with a hive can sponsor a hive through KiReeco's rotating hive fund: $60 pays for materials a beekeeper needs to get started. Once the beekeeper raises $60 through honey sales, that is "paid forward" to sponsor the next family in line. Click here for details.
Training Support: At our August 2014 meeting, we held another drawing to raise funds to help the KiReeco beekeepers with training costs. Thanks to LCBA Vice President Dave Gaston for building and donating a top bar hive for drawing to help fund the training. Over $500 was raised.
Several LCBA members travelled to Kenya in October - November 2014 to help train these 500+ new beekeepers, as well as work with a local engineer to build hive boxes and design a bicycle extractor. Wilma’s beekeeping association also helps students at the St. Theresa's OVC Secondary School to learn the wood- and metal-working skills necessary to help KiReeco supply beekeepers with equipment. The goal of the project was to help the KiReeco beekeepers become self-sufficient in beekeeping and honey production.
These (and any future) LCBA members who travelled to Kisii funded travel, room, board and all other expenses entirely by themselves: no LCBA funds were spent.
To read the story of how the volunteers' work in Kisii progressed, click here.
Visit KiReeco online: www. kireeco.wordpress.com
Above, four women whose goal is to send their children to school by selling honey. To read their stories, click here for LCBA's March 2014 Newsletter.
Below, the KiReeco Beekeeping Association. To read how to sponsor a Kisii family to start beekeeping, click here.
Above, Wilma Sofranko (left) answering questions after her presentation at LCBA's February 2014 meeting.
Below, the top bar hive made by VP Dave Gaston, which was drawn for by members as a fundraiser to help KiReeco pay for WSBA beginning beekeeping books and Langstroth hive materials.