In the picturesque region of Afram Plains in Ghana, where the sweet hum of bees resonates with the rhythms of rural life, a remarkable collaboration has taken shape. Bees for Development Ghana, a pioneering organisation dedicated to apiculture development, has joined forces with the Ghana National Fire Service to empower local beekeepers with vital knowledge and skills in bushfire prevention and management. This unique partnership not only protects precious honeybee colonies but also ensures the livelihoods of beekeepers remain secure in the face of a growing threat.
In the last few years, Afram Plains has been renowned for its vibrant beekeeping communities, courtesy of Bees for Development Ghana, where indigenous honeybee species play a pivotal role in pollinating crops and producing high-quality honey. However, the area is not without its challenges, and one of the most pressing issues is the recurrent bushfires that pose a serious threat to both beekeepers and their buzzing partners.
Afram Plains is faced with perennial bushfire that destroys properties, farms, and the landscape affecting the area’s biodiversity. Many people in the area have suffered from this unfortunate disaster year on year. In fact, the economic cost of its devastating effects on crops and environmental resources is huge.
Bees for Development Ghana and the Ghana National Fire Service recognised the urgency of addressing this issue through a project Beekeepers Restore the Forest of Afram Plains funded by the UK Government through the Darwin Initiative. They are joining forces together to develop a comprehensive training programme tailored to the unique needs of Afram Plains beekeepers. The programme aimed not only to teach preventative measures but also to equip beekeepers with strategies to manage bushfires effectively.
Key Elements of the Training:
- Bushfire Prevention: The training emphasises the importance of creating firebreaks around apiaries, clearing dry vegetation, and establishing early warning systems to detect fires in their infancy.
- Firefighting Skills: Beekeepers are being taught basic firefighting techniques, including the use of fire beaters and fire extinguishers, enabling them to respond swiftly and effectively to small fires before they escalate.
- Emergency Response: The training also provides guidance on evacuation procedures and first aid, ensuring the safety of beekeepers in case of emergencies.
Community Collaboration: Beekeepers are encouraged to work together and engage with local people, fostering a collaborative approach to bushfire prevention and response.
The initiation of this collaboration this year is expected to birth several remarkable outcomes. Notably, the incidence of bushfires in the Afram Plains beekeeping communities is expected to significantly decrease. Beekeepers are expected to express feeling more prepared and confident in dealing with potential fire threats, ensuring the safety of their hives, farms, other properties, and the environment.
Additionally, this partnership is expected to strengthen the bond between beekeepers in the area and the Ghana National Fire Service, creating a united front in safeguarding the Afram Plains ecosystem. The exchange of knowledge and experiences would be mutually beneficial, enhancing the resilience of the area as a whole.
Looking ahead, the collaboration between Bees for Development Ghana and the Ghana National Fire Service in Donkorkrom serves as a shining example of how organisations can come together to address critical challenges facing local communities. As the threat of bushfires continues to loom, this partnership reaffirms the importance of proactive, community-driven solutions.
In Afram Plains, we want to see the bees continue to thrive, pollinating fields and producing honey, while beekeepers stand ready to protect their colonies from the ever-present danger of bushfires. It is a testament to the power of collaboration, demonstrating that when organisations join forces, they can make a lasting impact on both the environment and the lives of those who depend on it.
Some beekeepers who attended the first bushfire prevention and management training session had a lot to say. “The bushfire training not only taught us how to protect our bees but also how to protect our way of life. It’s the knowledge that’s priceless.” Samuel, Afram Plains Beekeeper. Alice, a beekeeper in Bodua said “Learning to prevent and fight bushfires has made me a more confident beekeeper. Now, I can face challenges head-on and protect my precious hives.”
Sharing experience Alice said she has been creating firebelts around her cassava farm and that has been effective over the years in safeguarding her crops. Another said “This training has opened our eyes to the importance of working together as a community. We are not just beekeepers; we are guardians of the land [the environment].”
The participants voiced their commitment to fighting bushfires in the area. They said “We are happy about the training. We will use the knowledge we have obtained from this workshop to prevent bushfires caused by nearby communities. We will also ensure that the culprits are arrested. This will serve as a lesson to the others.”
The project Beekeepers Restore the Forest of Afram Plains is funded by the UK Government through the Darwin Initiative.