Dr Kwame Aidoo, 2015 Commonwealth Professional Fellow from Ghana, reports on a unique event arranged by his host organisation, Bees for Development.

During the summer months every year, honey bee colonies gather nectar, pollen, and other resources to grow and develop a vibrant nest. When a nest is overflowing with bees and food, the colony divides into two, and half leaves the mother nest with the older of two queens that have been raised. The old queen, many thousands of worker bees all filled with honey, and some few hundreds of drones issue out of the mother nest and relocate to another cavity elsewhere. This is a swarm of bees and the swarming process is the means by which bee colonies reproduce.

On 1 July 2015, months of hard work and preparation by the Bees for Development Trust (BfD) culminated in the Bee Garden Party, held in the gardens of Marlborough House, London – home of the Commonwealth Secretariat. The event was organised to raise funds for BfD’s work in supporting and promoting sustainable beekeeping among rural farming communities all over the world.

I arrived in Monmouth for the start of my Commonwealth Professional Fellowship in late June, just in time to join my host organisation in making the necessary preparations as a colony to swarm to Marlborough House on the appointed day, led by our energetic queen, Dr Nicola Bradbear (Director, BfD).

By late afternoon on the day of the event, the buzzing of thousands of bees could be heard across the streets adjoining Marlborough House, and by evening all the invited dignitaries had arrived, the garden bustling with even louder buzzing.

(left) Bee hives on the lawn of Marlborough House; (right) An observation hive with a colony of bees

The event featured a raffle and auctions hosted by the famous BBC broadcaster, Bill Turnbull (a beekeeper himself, whose jar of honey was bought for £650.00!). Guests were treated to a wonderful display of BfD’s work on sustainable beekeeping in many developing countries. There were exhibitions of beekeeping equipment, bee products and a display of different kinds of bee hives used by many rural communities for sustainable beekeeping.

(left) Bill Turnbull hosting the raffle; (right) Kwame Aidoo at the Ghana stand

As part of my role as a Commonwealth Professional Fellow, I hosted a stand to showcase the contribution of sustainable beekeeping to the income and livelihoods of Ghanaian farmers. Many visitors to my stand were overwhelmed at the benefits of the pollinating activities of bees on crop production, especially on cashew farms in Ghana.

The Bee Garden Party gave me the opportunity to meet and interact with many people who share a belief in the value of bees for human livelihoods and also biodiversity conservation. Based on these noble values, these people contributed generously towards the work of Bees for Development and we are indeed grateful.