Your Source For Beekeeping News, Information and Entertainment
Feb. 14, 2022

Bees for Development with Nicola Bradbear (S4, E35)

In this episode, we welcome Nicola Bradbear to the podcast for the first time. Nicola is the Director of Bees for Development. Bees for Development uses bees to reduce poverty through sustainable beekeeping and increase biodiversity. One of the most overlooked aspects of...

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In this episode, we welcome Nicola Bradbear to the podcast for the first time. Nicola is the Director of Bees for Development. Bees for Development uses bees to reduce poverty through sustainable beekeeping and increase biodiversity.

One of the most overlooked aspects of using beekeeping as an income source in developing countries, is that the beekeeper does not need to own land. In 1993, Nicola Bradbear drew on that foundation to start an organization to teach low to no income people in developing countries how to keep bees using locally sourced equipment, start businesses that can thrive locally, and develop global markets for their products. Bees for Development shares beekeeping skills with people in the poorest communities of the world, giving a reliable, sustainable income for life. 

Bees for Development has learned that simple, low-cost and local styles of beekeeping work best while keeping to the principles of natural beekeeping. Their programs are successful. Listen today to learn more about this incredible organization and Nicole who leads it.

If you liked today's episode, subscribe/follow to keep up to date with the latest releases!

Links and websites mentioned in this podcast:

Honey Bee Obscura


We welcome Betterbee as sponsor of today's episode. BetterBee’s mission is to support every beekeeper with excellent customerBetterBeeservice, continued education and quality equipment. From their colorful and informative catalog to their support of beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast series, BetterBee truly is Beekeepers Serving Beekeepers. See for yourself at

Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of Beekeeping TodayStrong MicrobialsPodcast. Find out more about heir line of probiotics in our Season 3, Episode 12 episode and from their website:

This episode is brought to you by Global Patties! Global Patties is a family business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honey bees. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will helpGlobal Pattiesensure that they produce strong and health colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow. Global offers a variety of standard patties, as well as custom patties to meet your specific needs. Visit them today at and let them know you appreciate them sponsoring this episode! 

Thanks for Northern Bee Books for their sponsorship of Bee Books: Old & New with Kim Flottum. Northern Bee Books is the publisher of bee books available worldwide from their website or from Amazon and bookstores everywhere. They are also the publishers of The Beekeepers Quarterly and Natural Bee Husbandry. Check them out today!

We want to also thank 2 Million Blossoms as a sponsor of the podcast. 2 Million Blossoms is a regular podcast featuring interviews with leading bee and insect researchers in the world of pollination, hosted by Dr. Kirsten Traynor.


We hope you enjoy this podcast and welcome your questions and comments:

Thanks to Bee Culture, the Magazine of American Beekeeping, for their support of The Beekeeping Today Podcast. Available in print and digital at

Bee Culture Magazine

Thank you for listening! 

Podcast music: Be Strong by Young Presidents; Epilogue by Musicalman; Walking in Paris by Studio Le Bus; Original guitar background instrumental by Jeff Ott

Beekeeping Today Podcast is an audio production of Growing Planet Media, LLC

Growing Planet Media, LLC


S4, E35 – Bees for Development with Nicola Bradbear


Jeff Ott:Welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast presented by Bee Culture. Beekeeping Today Podcast is your source for beekeeping news, information, and entertainment. I'm Jeff Ott.

Kim Flottum:I'm Kim Flottum.

Global Patties:Hey Jeff and Kim, today's sponsor is Global Patties. They're a family-operated business that manufacturers protein supplement patties for honey bees. It's a good time to think about honey bee nutrition. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will ensure that they produce strong and healthy colonies, by increasing brood production and overall honey flow. Now is a great time to consider what type of patty is right for your area and your honeybees. Global offers a variety of standard patties as well as custom patties to meet your needs. No matter where you are, Global is ready to serve you out of their manufacturing plants in Airdrie, Alberta, and in Butte, Montana, or from distribution depots across the continent. Visit them today at

Jeff:Thanks, Sherry, and thank you Global Patties. You know each week we get to talk about how much we appreciate our sponsor support, and we know you'd rather get right to talking about beekeeping. Who writes these scripts anyways, Kim? However, our super sponsors are critical to help making all of this happen from the transcripts, the hosting fees, the software, hardware, microphones, and recorders. They enable each episode. With that, thanks to Bee Culture Magazine for continuing to presenting sponsorship of this podcast. Bee Culture has been the magazine for American beekeeping since 1873. Subscribe to Bee Culture today.

We also want to thank 2 Million Blossoms, the sponsor of this episode. 2 Million Blossoms is dedicated to protecting all pollinators. Listen to Kirsten Traynor's 2 million blossoms at, and that is with a number two. It's available on the website or from wherever you download your shows. Hey, everybody, thanks for joining us. We're really, really happy you're here. Hey, Kim, you know what today is. It's Valentine's Day. What did you get me, buddy?

Kim:Happy Valentine's Day.


Kim:As a kid, it used to be happy VE Day and I'm not going to go where that used to go, but thanks.


Jeff:Well, no, it's a good time, it's another sign that spring is on its way. I'm all that.


Jeff:We've been having some sunshine. Actually, over the weekend it got 50 and almost 60 degrees, and it's nice to see the bees flying.

Kim:Rub it in guy, rub it in.

Jeff:[laughs] Well, if you would only go off and shovel the snow off the front of the hives, I'm sure your bees would be happy to get out.

Kim:Then therein lies the problem, shoveling the snow away from the hives-


Kim:-and you've got 60 degrees. Give me a break.

Jeff:Well, nearly 60 degrees. It wasn't quite. We've got a big show today, Kim, but before we get into all that, how are things over at our other podcast?

Kim:Honey Bee Obscura with Jim. Jim and I have been having fun. We've been putting our heads together and coming up with some good topics. We're looking at, okay, you got some beekeeping equipment you don't need anymore, how do you get rid of it? What do you do? We're looking at observation hives, big ones and small ones and the summer is coming up and you're going to have small ones for fairs and big ones in your house, and he and I have both been there, done that, and made all the mistakes you can make and maybe we can share some of them.

Jeff:Those are really good shows. I really enjoyed the one with the observation hives. My very first beehive was an observation hive, and that's actually me and my first observation hive in the show notes.

Kim:That's you? Oh, no kidding.

Jeff:That's me.

Kim:I wondered where the picture came from.

Jeff:Yes, that was me way long ago. It was fun. I encourage our listeners, if you haven't listened to Honey Bee Obscura, do yourself a favor and do so today, you'll enjoy it. All right next, we have a new segment that we just started a couple of weeks ago. It's your new segment Kim, it is called Bee Books: Old & New with Kim Flottum.

Kim:It's Bee Books: Old & New, and what we're taking a look at is, every other week, we take a look at a couple of new bee books that Northern Bee Books may or may not be producing, but they're involved in it. Certainly, one of the old books, and the one this week is The ABC that the Root Company published here a couple of years ago and in two years, nobody has talked about it. This time I'm looking at authors and countries, and all of the topics that we covered, and I'm going to do this over several weeks. Bee Books: Old & New, sponsored by Northern Bee Books. Thank you, Northern Bee Books.

Jeff:Real good. Well, let's get right into the episode. Thanks for doing it, Kim.


Northern Bee Books:Welcome to Bee Books: Old & New, brought to you by Northern Bee Books, publishers and sellers of fine books on bees, beekeeping, and the global beekeeping industry, and our very own Growing Planet Media. Here's Kim with today's Bee Books: Old & New.

Kim:I'm going to welcome you to another chapter of Bee Books: Old & New, sponsored by Northern Bee Books in the United Kingdom. Today I'm looking at a couple of new books from Northern Bee Books that are short, well written, and with an abundance of excellent photos that demonstrate what the written parts describe. Both of these books look at equipment that's easy to use, pretty easy to make, and both do exactly what they say they will. I'm also going to talk about The A.I. Root Company's latest addition of The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture. I'm not going to review the entire book, it's over 800 pages long, but rather give you some idea of what it contains, the topics it covers that I find interesting, and some that are so well done that the author should be given some medal.

Next time we'll start to look at more detail of The ABC and will for a few more sessions. Today, basically, I'm going to look at the sources of information where it comes from, and how much there is. Let's get started. The first book is The Hopkins Method for Raising Queens in your Small Apiary by Joe Conti. It's published by Northern Bee Books and it's available on Amazon. Raising your own queens is always a good idea because queens are expensive. The Hopkins method requires no purchasing of queen rearing materials or kits, no learning curve, and skills required or grafting. Beekeeping presents many challenges and one of the most troublesome and today one of the most common is finding colonies with no queens.

There are queen suppliers who are more than willing to sell you some queens, but the prices of these royal highnesses seem to be increasing each year, and of course, you can't be sure of the health of that queen nor the genetics of her background. This certainly has led many beekeepers down the path of self-support, raising their own queens and you can raise your own queens, without a lot of fuss and bother and expense. There are a lot of ways to do this, but most of the techniques are designed for raising many queens. Queens for sale, queens for 100 of your new nukes this season, and they involve intricate tools and procedures and techniques and skills.

Some of the equipment beekeepers purchase to raise queens include grafting tools, cell bars, plastic cell cups, plastic cell protectors, candy caps, incubators, and queen cages. There are even complete queen rearing kits that include everything you need plus instructions. Some of the common methods associated with queen rearing are the Jenter, Nicot, and Doolittle systems. The other options you know often overlooked are the simple methods that work well, produce queens of good quality and known genetics and all from your own stock. One of these is the Hopkins method. No special equipment needed except one simple box and a chisel. The author, Joe Conti, clearly explains this in the Hopkins method for raising queens in your small area.

Just so you know, Joe is a Bronx, New York, USA native, but has lived in the state of Georgia in the US for 35 years. He has a Master's in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Florida and worked as a wildlife biologist specializing in wildlife diseases at both the Universities of Florida and Georgia. He's well grounded in the biology and procedures required for this method of rearing a few queens. The technique is practical, easy, and basic. You want to remove the queen if it has one, from the colony you want to re-queen or provide a queen for. To do this, you first need to provide the box mentioned earlier.

What this box is essentially is a very shallow super, designed to hold a frame lying on its side. You'll have to build the box so that it holds the frame and all that is required is a notch on each side to hold the lug of the frame so it doesn't lie on the tops of the frames below. Plus something to keep the bottom of the frame even with the top and a simple nail does that nicely, but that's all the equipment you will need. That's it. One box with two notches chiseled on two sides. Once made and checked to see that the frame now lying on its side does not violate bee space to the top bars below, you can go to the next step.

To begin, remove a frame from the hive you were using or from another with different genetics and place it in the shell super equipped with appropriate holders to keep the frame of bee space above the frames in the box, but lying on one side. Not hanging in the super. Recall, the hive has been rendered queen-less a short time beforehand, say at least a day, maybe two or three at most. The bottom side of the comb of that frame must contain eggs and larva, because this is where the queens are going to be raised. This comb hanging above the broodness of the hive is very close to and accessible to the bees below to pick and choose which larvae they will use to raise their new queen from. Another super is added above this box with the frame.

Then it's sit back, relax, and let the bees do what bees do. Raise a few queen cells from that frame so handly hanging above them. When the cells are capped and ready to be harvested, the frame is removed. The queen cells cut out from the comb and placed in a queen-less colony to finish. No grafting, no cell bars, cell cups, queen cages, or other tools or equipment needed. It is a remarkably easy technique to use and without expensive equipment or a stressful management schedule to follow.

You can pick and choose, getting the fattest, plumpest, most awesome queen cell that exists on that frame, and the queen you will get will be the best of the bunch. No equipment needed, no dollars spent, and only the one or few you wanted. The Hopkins method is easy, safe, productive, and inexpensive. Try it to spring. The book is only $14 and available from Amazon. You'll save enough using this method to buy three books and you'll be glad you did. The next book I want to talk about it is called the Modified Golden Hive. It's by David Heaf, and it's another new book published by Northern Bees Books.

Like the Hopkins queen ring book, it's only 37 pages and it's only $14 and you can get it from Amazon. The golden hive is another form of the whole horizontal hives with frames that are becoming increasingly popular in Europe and North America. This one, the golden hive, was developed at the Mellifera Association in Germany. It's practical because it's based on Dadant size frames that are rotated 90 degrees in the box.

The resulting deep format allows for a vertically uninterrupted brood nest and a deep honey crown that is good for wintering. It's a wary type hive in another shape but you don't need to change a lot of the equipment. The author who lives in the UK switched from using UK national hives, using conventional management to what he felt was a more natural style and more natural equipment, but still using a conventional wary hive style management. The golden hive is similar in design and management.

Like a wary hive, additional boxes or space can be added at the bottom without disturbing the brood and inspection does not include lifting heavy boxes off the top to get to the brood below for inspection. This is an attractive feature for my very old back, I might add. The major attraction however since I live where winter is a major environmental feature is that the double walls of the hive are both thick but they have insulation between them. This is one warm box let me tell you.

It has a heavily insulated roof that comes with a quilt above the frames and the entrance is at the bottom through the floor no less, providing a warm way configuration. Sound much like a tree, do you think? It holds 22 frames too. Both brood and honey stores are neatly held together. The floor is designed to be removed to clean but a varroa trap beneath isn't added.

The roof is curved, designed to not allow rodents to get inside to the quilt and overlaps the sides to keep driving rain out. There are bees waxed top bars, V-shaped in the bottom to guide the beginning of comb construction, and there are interestingly comb supports for the comb from the top to the bottom of the box. These are simply dowel guides about 2 inches long protruding from each side, that provide support and guidance from the top to the bottom at the combs fit between.

As with similar hives, harvesting is simply removing a frame and the comb and cutting off the combs to remove the harvestable honey and then replacing the top bars and any remaining comb when finished. This book describes modifications to the golden hive to buffer the colony against heat and cold extremes, as does a tree cavity. With the help of many excellent pictures, and I mean many excellent pictures, details are given of how to make the hive followed by highlights of running it untreated for varroa over six seasons. That's something to be said and something to be considered.

A few other modified golden hive projects are also mentioned in the book. If you're thinking of long hive beekeeping, this is another example of equipment to use, that you can build yourself using some equipment the top bars for example that already exist. Finally, here's a quick overview of the sources of information you'll find in the 42nd edition of ABC. Like I said before, there's 832 pages in this that are all color. It's a 6.5 inch by 9.5 inch book.

Actually, it's fully 2 inches thick, just to give you a feel for the size and the weight. Dr. Keith Delaplane was chosen to be the lead information gatherer and editor deciding on what information needed to be updated and who should be doing it, plus what new information needed to be shared. He picked some pretty good folks to help him with that part. Dr. Jim too, now retired from the University of Ohio. Actually, Jim, that's Ohio State University. Sorry about that, and he's a Bee Culture contributor.

Jennifer Berry from the University of Georgia, another Bee Culture contributor. Clarence Collison now retired from the University of Mississippi and also a Bee Culture contributor and Ann Harman, an author, master beekeeper, and a Bee Culture contributor. I was finalizer, gathering all of that that Keith produced and had finished in his style. I was the retainer of all of the information that did not need to be choosed and was going to be moved from the last edition to the new one.

When you add in what wasn't changed, there are a total of 93 contributing authors to this edition. That's quite a gathering if you think about it. There were authors from 29 states but let me give you a few for these. There were eight from Georgia, two from Pennsylvania, two from Montana, two from Texas, three from Utah, two from Mississippi, five from California, four from Maryland, six from Minnesota, two from Virginia, three from Ohio, two from North Carolina, two from Illinois, three from New York, plus one each from Oklahoma North Carolina, Oregon, the Washington DC, Delaware, the state of Washington, Mississippi, Michigan, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Kentucky. That's a mouthful but it gives you a feel for the broad perspective and the huge background of information that we were able to pull together. 12 countries provided authors.

There were nine USDA scientists who were used, one scientist from Apimondia, five scientists from the UK, and five from Canada. There's also an extensive updating of the root family history and a thorough overview of the history of the Dadant family and business. Finally, we provided information on 69 of the best honey producing plants in most parts of the world. This is just starters, I wanted to give you some background on what this book contains.

We're going to look at more detail in the next coming shows. I think that's enough for today. Thank you Northern Bee Books for supporting this adventure this week. We'll see you next time.


Jeff:Hey, thanks Kim. That's really good. I really enjoy those and I was looking at my copy of ABC and what? There's 93 authors in that?

Kim:93 authors. Exactly right.

Jeff:That's really good. That's an impressive book. Speaking of authors, we have the blog pages up and running now. We have a couple of stories up and we are going to produce just little short snippets of our experience, good and bad on the blog page. I encourage our listeners to go out and check that. You can get there at the top of the website. It just says blogs.

Kim:Jimmy is doing his blog on Honey Bee Obscura. I'm doing mine on Beekeeping Today. You're doing yours on Beekeeping Today. One of the things that I'm looking at and I've been really, really, really, what's the word I want? Intensively looking at as climate change and or not climate change and what's going on. That's what my blog is looking at. I'm gathering a lot of data and how it's affecting bees and beekeeping and beekeepers. The coming show we have with John Miller talks about climate change.

Jeff:All right, well we have a big show today. Today we talk with Nicola Bradbear of Bees for Development.

Kim:I've known her for quite a while since I've been going to the National Honey Show in the UK. They always have a booth there and that's where I got to know them. She's a special lady and she's running an incredibly, what's the word that I want? An Incredibly generous operation doing a lot of good for a lot of people.

Jeff:Absolutely. I've gone through her material. I've read the journal that they have and several of the pamphlets and the work that they provide for developing countries is phenomenal. I really give them a lot of kudos and wish I was in my 20s. I'd go and help them somewhere.

Kim:Well, she's a neat lady and it's a neat organization. This was fun to do.

Jeff:I'm looking for forward to talking with Nicola but first let's do a quick word from Strong Microbials.

Strong Microbial:Hello beekeepers. Your honeybees face a lot of challenges out there. Unbalanced food sources from monoculture crops, holding yards, drought, food shortages, antibiotics, pesticides, and pathogens like chop brood. To overcome these challenges, your bees need the multiple bacteria that are in all nectars, pollens, and the environment. These bacteria aid honeybees' digestion and improve your honeybees' response and resilience to pesticides. Now, you can help improve your honey colony health with a quick, easy, and safe to use product. Strong Microbials SuperDFM-HoneyBee uses naturally occurring bacteria to restore the healthy gut biome of your honeybees. Check them out today at

Jeff:While you're on the Strong Microbial site, make sure you click on and subscribe toThe Hive, their regular newsletter full of interesting bee facts and product information. Hey everybody, welcome back. Sitting across a virtual Zoom table right now is no other than Nicola Bradbear. Oh, did I get that right?

Nicola Bradbear:Yes, very good.

Jeff:Nicola Bradbear from Bees for Development. Nicola, welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast.

Nicola:Hello there. Thanks for inviting me.

Kim:It's good to see you again Nicola. I had missed you at the National Honey Show this year and I always look forward to that to be able to get at least a couple minutes of your time, so maybe next year.

Nicola:Yes, we missed having you there, Kim. You must come this year.

Jeff:Nicola, I thought that you have a funny accent and it's definitely not from Tennessee. What is that accent? Where are you?

Nicola:I don't have any accent actually.


Nicola:I'm British. I'm originally Scottish but I don't have any Scott's accent left now, because I've been living in England and now I live in Wales and I don't really have a Wales accent. I don't think I have an accent, but I'm living in Wales just across the border from England about three hours west of London in the UK.

Jeff:We've invited you to the podcast because of the work that you do for Bees for Development. Before we get into that, can you tell us a little bit about your bee background and how you got started with honey bees?

Nicola:Sure. My interest obviously is in development and social development. Many, many years ago when I was a student in the '70s, there was meant to be a world food problem. It was the time of ?? and many problems like that. Of course, there was never really a world food problem, there was a world food distribution problem. I was very interested in that and I did my degree and my PhD in the hope of addressing that.

Then I did a postdoc. I was working at Durham University in England and I just realized that nothing I ever did was going to make a drop of difference and I went off traveling. It's like the back end of the hippie time. I perceived beekeeping was this wonderful thing that people were doing in rural places. My dad was a beekeeper, so I was always looking for beekeeping and I realized that beekeeping is actually a wonderful tool for development. It's a really useful rural livelihood.

I came back to the UK and at that time, there was a lady called Eva Crane, a historian of beekeeping who was running something called the International Bee Research Association near London, near Heathrow Airport where that is. I wrote to her and said, I want to do something about beekeeping and development. She saw that's interesting and it ended up I worked there for 10 years. She was my first boss, so I loved working there. [chuckles] Time changed and then in 1993, it was time to form Bees for Development as an organization focused completely on, as it says, Bees for Development.

Jeff:Where were you traveling in your walkabout times that you thought about this?

Nicola:India and Nepal and all around there, interesting places.

Jeff:Very good. Good hippie times, good hippie places.

Nicola:Yes, but also spotting all these amazing apis dorsata and things and noticing that beekeeping is very interesting and very different from how I'd seen it at home.

Kim:You're aging both of us Nicola talking about the hippie days. I was there also.

Nicola:We're all just old hippies, really.


Kim:Yes, that's what we are. When you decided to begin Bees for Development and I can't imagine how you would start something like that. How did you get going?

Nicola:IBRA went through a rocky patch after Eva Crane was no longer the boss. I don't really want to talk about this, I was made redundant from there to start, but many of the council at that time were sympathetic to me so I left and other people left with me. That was how I started. I took with me-- I was given permission to take the journal and all of our resources with us.

Jeff:You know swarming is a natural activity, so there's nothing to apologize for that.

Nicola:Yes, that's just life. That's how organizations go.

Kim:You're now working and after all of these years, you're working in a lot of countries. Jeff, I'll point out to the people listening that the webpage that Bees for Development has is worth all of the time you can spend there to find out more about what they do and how they make it happen and what you can do. Tune that in for sure, but what are the countries that you're working in now, Nicola, primarily?

Nicola:Actually, we do two distinct things. Beekeeping is a funny subject that doesn't quite fit, is it part of agriculture? Is it part of entomology? Is it part of animal production? Is it part of forestry? Because in many countries beekeeping is part of forestry. Even in countries like this one, it's a subject that you don't always get trained in at agricultural college. Many people in poor countries find it very hard to get hold of reliable beekeeping information and often they don't have a ministry department with responsibility for beekeeping. We provide free information to about 130 developing countries.

We publish lots of stuff and send lots of training materials and what we call resource boxes. If somebody's doing some training, we send them a lot of information and training posters and things like that. We provide materials to lots of countries around the world free, just because no one else is doing that really. Then we also have our own community projects in some countries where we have a team of people working and that's really where most of our money is spent on those projects.

At the moment, we have what we call Apiculture Centers of Excellence in Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda, we're just starting in Zimbabwe and we've worked in many, many, many countries by now over the years.

Kim:One of the things that I've always liked about beekeeping is you can have bees, you can be a farmer, you can make money and you don't have to own the land which is a distinct advantage for people who don't have the money to buy land or don't have land. There isn't land to buy either way. You tapped into that resource very nicely.

Nicola:It's even better than that because unlike other livestock, you don't have to feed bees. Bees feed themselves and they have their own transport to go and find their own forage, find their own food. Beekeeping is a possible thing because as we all know, you don't have to do it every day. It's not like looking after cows or hens that you have to attend to every day. You can do it when you've got time to do it and as you say, Kim, it's possible for landless people. For many people where we work, this is the problem that the young people don't have their own land, but they somehow have to scratch a living and beekeeping is feasible for them.

Kim:Definitely. Looking at the things that you were training people, what I found very interesting is that almost all of the materials that you're using are natural to the location where you're at. When you're in this country, you're probably using something much different than the materials in another country that it works just as well in both places, but it's totally different. Different design, different use, different all that. It's not one size fits all.

Nicola:Absolutely. We in all of our projects people have to make their own equipment from whatever is available locally. There's no point in having a project where you bring in stuff because the minute you stop doing that, it won't work. We train people to make their own beehives from whatever is there. Usually, it's using skills that are already there to make very beautiful beehives, but these really need to cost nothing so that the beekeeping itself is really cost-effective.

Actually, wherever we work, people don't need to spend money on equipment. They make their own equipment. Then, of course, as soon as they harvest honey and beeswax, they're in profit. When they find it works, if they can make the equipment themselves, then they can scale up on their own without relying on any donor inputs. It works really well actually.

Kim:Many of the hives that they are made locally are fixed comb, hives, not movable frames. Let me think a minute, gosh, that's how bees live. They've taken what they do. You've just essentially, slid them over to another container, but that's about all the changes you've made.

Nicola:Yes. Of course, in rich countries like this one, people are increasingly interested in natural beekeeping and understanding more about how actually when bees live in the way that bees really want to live in their own nest. They're healthier and happier. Actually, the very chronically poor people that we work with, they're already doing this natural beekeeping.

It's non-interventionist and the bees are really living as they want to live in their own nest and the beekeepers harvest honey but they're very skilled actually. They do it very carefully and it's very often very beautiful and very skilled and sustainable, excellent beekeeping. Everywhere we work, the beekeepers don't really know about bee diseases, but of course, for our-- and everything is there, but because the bees are living naturally and swarming naturally and maintaining their genetic integrity and nobody is using any chemicals, so there's no development of any resistance. Actually, when bees are allowed to live that way they're very healthy. The beekeepers we work with, they don't have problems with bee diseases. It's not a thing.

Kim:I know Tom Seeley is on your board. I imagined he is a strong supporter of all of this way of keeping bees happy and the beekeepers also.

Nicola:Yes. It's just fantastic to have Tom's endorsement for our work. We like to say that everything we do is science-based and yes, we're very delighted to have his support for many years now.

Kim:How many people do you have that are running this organization?

Nicola:Well, we are a small team of professionals here, so we are eight full-time equivalent. Those are paid staff. Then we have an army of volunteers here as well. It's not us going back and forward to do training. We have teams of professional Ethiopians in Ethiopia and Ghanaians in Ghana and Ugandans in Uganda who are doing the work in the field and we manage them.

I must say, this is one of the good things of COVID, we've discovered that we don't need to get on planes anymore. Zoom is so brilliant. We talk to them every day and it's just marvelous. We can help them in every way we can, but without having to waste money and carbon and earth resources on airplanes.

Kim:You're finding people in these countries that are already fairly well skilled in beekeeping and product processing. You're using those people to do the training. If I'm going to learn beekeeping in Ethiopia or Zimbabwe or any of those countries, I'm working with people that are from my home, which has got to make life a lot simpler.

Nicola:Yes. We always find the skilled beekeepers in an area. Those are the ones we are working with to teach more beekeepers. Even when people have just been learning for a year or two they, in turn, start training more people. There's another thing going on here about once somebody becomes a beekeeper, it gives them a social identity and some status in the society. People are proud to have that beekeeping skill and to be an expert and to pass it onto other people. That's a big part of our project.

Kim:Well, I see one of the other things that you're interested in doing is you're working with, I would guess almost exclusively, tropical forest habitat and local bee species, not just honey bees but other local bees and using local material. The local bee species thing has got me interested. How do you learn to keep bees if you've never-- [laughs] you see what I mean?

Nicola:Well, actually everywhere there are people that already know how to do these things that are experts in keeping stingless bees. That wherever there are bees around the world or indigenous bees, there are indigenous people who know how to work with them. Those are the people that we are in touch with and that we would always go to to learn from. It's their wisdom that we want them to share with other people in indigenous land management.

This is a huge marvelous thing of protecting the Earth's resources. There's much more biodiversity, protected by indigenous communities than in all the reserves added together. It's very important to help these people. We have a project with Batwa which used to be called pygmies in Uganda. These people are so chronically poor, but we are working with them to become very good beekeepers. Beekeepers, with stingless bees, not honey bees.

Kim:That goes back to not one size fits all, which is, if this is the way you do it here, that's what we're going to teach you. That's got to make life easier for the teachers and for the people learning because I don't have to-- it's not completely foreign.



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Kim:There was one of the projects you had where you planted thousands of trees someplace. All of the things that you said so far and all the things that I've read and what I know about your organization, you guys are doing everything you should be to help climate change go backwards.

Nicola:That's what we think. We cannot solve climate change without solving human poverty. These chronically poor people on earth are really living in very important places for biodiversity and restoring that habitat is so important. Actually, that's the brilliant thing about beekeeping. When someone becomes a beekeeper, as you know, every beekeeper is a bit of an amateur botanist.

You become invested in habitat and interested in habitat and learning what trees are what, and knowing plant species. Every time we train a beekeeper, we're actually training someone who will protect habitat. Land restoration is an inevitable important part of all the work we do.

Kim:A very inevitable important. I'm glad, thank you. Keep it up, please. We appreciate it. If I wanted to help support Bee for Development. I could send you a check I suppose, but are there other are things that I can do?

Nicola:Raising awareness is a marvelous thing. In the world, there are big institutes. There's the International Rice Research Institute and the International Maize Research Institute. There's really nobody doing this job for bees. We are a very small organization, but if we had resources, we could do far more work with people. It sounds bad, but we really would like your check.


Kim:I'll see what I can do, but what else could they be doing? You mentioned being a resource and supporter, but I guess specifically, what could I be doing here in Ohio?

Nicola:We want everybody to raise awareness about bees. It's not just in poor countries, it's everywhere. People need to understand that loss of biodiversity is as big a problem as climate change. They go along together. Even here, people do not understand how important insects are. We do a lot of work here too, to raise awareness about bees. We organize a festival in this town and we've got a local town we named as a Bee Town.

At least here to just get everybody to realize if they get things right for bees, we get it right for everything in the environment. We're trying to stop the local council from cutting all the grass and cutting the hedgerows and just letting things flower because every flower feeds some insect, actually. That's how we have to restore not just biodiversity, but abundance. We have to restore that abundance of insects that birds and everything else need.

Kim:It's a good way of looking at it. Here in Ohio, that's what I've been doing, but I'm hoping other people pick up on.

Jeff:That's also a message that Dave Goulson spreads. On our other podcast with Kirsten Traynor, she's interviewed Dave Goulson about the insect apocalypse and the sting in the tail. It's a very important message, that's how important insects are.

Nicola:Yes, I think it's a role for beekeepers, really. We're unusual in that we really like insects, but we need to move beyond bees and really spread the word that people have to let insects thrive a bit more.

Jeff:If you're a beekeeper, you're suddenly the neighborhood insect specialist. I think it's a good thing for all beekeepers to be aware of.

Kim:You're the wasp specialist and everything else that people don't like about bees that perhaps you can-- Yes, we've talked about that in the past. It's always something you inherit when you become a beekeeper.

Jeff:One of the things that I was looking at earlier on the Bees for Development website, and we will have the links in our show notes, is if someone doesn't feel comfortable just sending a check, you do have a nice shop with t-shirts, and hats, and tea towels, and-


Jeff:-honey, and books. You can support Bees for Development by visiting the shop as well.

Kim:Another good way to keep up with what they're doing and perhaps communicate with them is on their web page, they have a couple of newsletters that are free that you can subscribe to, and they've got the Bees for Development Journal. Are you the editor of that, Nicola?

Nicola:Yes, I have been. I'll actually soon be handing over, I hope. [laughs] We've just reached edition number 141.

Kim:That's a quarterly?

Nicola:Yes. We send it free to, as I say, 132 countries around the world free of charge, but people in richer countries are welcome to subscribe to that. Of course, that helps us to keep sending it to everybody else.

Kim:It's well done and lots of good information every issue. I'm fortunate because you've been sending it to me for a long time, thank you for that. Now, I guess I'm going to have to send you a check. [laughs]

Nicola:I should mention at this point that we have also Bees from North America, which is run by Megan Denver, and she's based in New York state. She's our South of North American wing.

Kim:The other thing you do in the UK, but you hold workshops every month, someplace you're making skeps or you're doing something that people can take part in, learn a skill in, and you guys benefit from it.

Nicola:Yes, that's right. Of course, we're training all the time in poor countries, but actually, we've learned so much from them about simple, sustainable beekeeping that we have ended up teaching that here as well. We do teach what we call sustainable beekeeping and describing the different approaches to beekeeping. We were talking about making hives in poor countries, but of course, 100 years ago, a bit more than that, we were still keeping bees here in baskets, in skeps. I have to say, it's a pretty wonderful thing to make your own skep, that's a woven basket, and then catch your first swarm in it and have a honeybee colony live in the skep. Bees love living in skeps, and you can learn a lot about bees by keeping them that way. You suddenly realize they do not live in rectangles.

Kim:[laughs] That's exactly correct. Yes, without a doubt. Well, Nicola, what have we missed? You have so much that you're involved in. All 10 fingers are going somewhere doing something. I know I haven't touched a lot of them. What have we missed that people should know?

Nicola:Well, I believe this podcast will be going out on the 14th of February, which is lovely, Saint Valentine's Day.

Jeff:Yes, happy Valentine's Day.

Nicola:For us, we chose that day this year- It's lovely that you've looked at our website, but there's only half of it on at the moment. We have been working really hard behind the scenes to build a resource center, and actually we're going to switch it on on 14th of February. We think it's probably the most comprehensive online resource, all about beekeeping in developing countries. We've got, I think, about 4,000 publications there. It will be launched today, I hope, if all goes to plan.

Kim:We hope so too, but if not, very soon, I'm sure. I was looking at your resources and you had over 3,000 now. You're beefing that up another 25%, another 1,000. Lots of good, free information.

Jeff:I'm just amazed at the amount of work that you're doing in the Bees for Development. I think it's very valuable work and excited to learn more about it.

Nicola:Thank you, Jeff. That's very nice. We are a very small organization in the scale of things, but it really helps us to get known by more people because there's not really many other people doing the same work as us. Yet, there's so much to be done. It's so helpful for people to get involved with bees and beekeeping. You've got so many stories of people really having their lives changed by becoming beekeepers.

In every society, honey is a precious, wholesome food that every society, every culture has a special value around honey. Actually, these poorest people on Earth, ironically, can produce some of the highest quality honey and beeswax that can find very good markets. There's really a lot can be done, and it's great for me to have the chance to tell more about it.

Jeff:It's great having you on. I think for us, to be able to spread the word about Bees for Development, and the work that you're doing, and the way that you're able to help others lift themselves up and provide a sustainable living for themselves, doing something from bees that we are privileged enough to do it as a hobby, to do something because we just enjoy it, but give that gift to others who can make a living or depend on it for a living, I think that's a wonderful gift. I applaud you and your group for the work that you're doing.

Nicola:Thank you. That's very nice.

Kim:I couldn't have said it better, Jeff.

Jeff:Oh, you probably could have, but that was off the cuff.

Kim:[laughs] That's good then. Nicola, thank you for being here today, making time for us, and happy Valentine's Day.

Nicola:Yes, indeed.


Kim:I will, as soon as I get a chance today, tune in on your new resource center and take a look, and I encourage everybody else to because it's a grand way to spend a couple of hours.

Jeff:I think I'm going to go out there to your website and actually click on and buy that hat I was looking at and the tea towel. I know my wife would enjoy that as well. Watch for those orders coming in. [chuckles]

Nicola:Thank you so much. It's very nice to meet you. [chuckles]

Jeff:Nice meeting you and look forward to having you back. Maybe we can make this a regular annual visit on Valentine's Day or nearby-


Jeff:-to get an update on Bees for Development.

Kim:Well, maybe next year at the National Honey Show.

Jeff:Oh, that would be nice.

Kim:I hope you can be there.

Jeff:That would be good.


Nicola:This year, not next year.


Kim:Yes, this year.

Nicola:That'd be great.

Kim:Thanks again, Nicola.

Jeff:Thank you, Nicola.

Nicola:Thank you so much.

Jeff:I like Bees for Development. Sounds like a fabulous organization.

Kim:Well, they're doing good things. That's for sure and Nicola is probably the perfect person to be running it. She had the inspiration, she started with nothing and now she's got a international association going for her and a whole list of people that are volunteering and helping out. There's a lot of people that are eating because of what she does.

Jeff:I think is so important to be able to go into these environments, and you see it on the Nightly News or wherever and people have nothing to work with. If you show them how to do beekeeping and using locally resourced materials for hives and you give them something to live on. I think that's super work and very important.

Kim:She takes several steps further. She teaches you how to process the products that you can develop, she teaches you how to find a market for the products you develop, and then how to export honey and wax to different countries. Primarily the EU, with the countries she's working with. She not only creates a skill, she develops a market, and then shows you how to make a profit with it. From ground up, that's as good as it gets.

Jeff:I believe you told me once that the cleanest and purest beeswax for church candles comes really from Africa and these smaller beekeepers because they don't use pesticides and there's no pesticides in their environment.

Kim:They don't have them in agriculture and they don't have them in beehives. A lot of poorer countries are producing good beeswax because of that. There's no exposure because there's no chemicals to be exposed to.

Jeff:Well, really good work and it's a good message on this Valentine's Day.



Jeff:[chuckles] All right. Well, that about wraps it up for this episode. Before we go, I want to encourage our listeners to rate us five stars in Apple podcasts, wherever you download or stream the show. Your vote helps other beekeepers find us quicker. Even better, write a review and let other beekeepers looking for a new podcast know what you like.

You can get there directly from our website by clicking on reviews along the top of any web page. As always, we thank Bee Culture, the magazine for American beekeeping, for their continued support of Beekeeping Today Podcast. We want to thank our regular episode's sponsor Global Patties. Check them out, I want to thank Strong Microbials for the support.

Check out their full probiotic line at, and thanks to Betterbee for being our supporter. Check out all their great beekeeping supplies this spring at We want to thank Northern Bee Books for joining us as a supporter of Kim's Bee Books: Old and New. Finally, and most importantly, we want to thank you, the Beekeeping Today Podcast listener for joining us on this show. Feel free to send us questions and comments at, we'd love to hear from you. Anything else, Kim?

Kim:Well, Jeff, yes, there is. We've started a blog, the first one it's been up just a little bit and the interesting thing about the blog is it is something completely different, which is on climate change and our guest today is making climate change happen.

Jeff:Very good. Thanks a lot, everybody.

[00:54:07] [END OF AUDIO]

Nicola BradbearProfile Photo

Nicola Bradbear


After completing her PhD at Durham University, and working for ten years at the International Bee Research Association, and lecturing on bees at Cardiff University, Nicola Bradbear founded the international not-for-profit Bees for Development.

This innovative organisation provides information on all aspects of bees and apicultural development to organisations and beekeepers worldwide. Bees for Development is now well-established with professional staff, international Trustees, high profile Patrons, and one Royal President!

Nicola has instigated bee research and development activities world-wide, collaborating with beekeepers in more than 50 countries. Bees for Development has received major awards for its work, most recently the Award for the Welsh organisation achieving greatest overall impact in Africa. Nicola is President of the world body Apimondia’s Scientific Commission Beekeeping for Rural Development.

Nicola is an advisor to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and other international agencies, and has worked in many nations including Afghanistan, Chechnya, El Salvador, Eritrea, and Iraq.

Nearer to home, Nicola is of course a beekeeper and President of her local beekeepers’ organisation. Nicola initiated the Bee Friendly campaign, which has lobbied successfully for the local Council to reduce mowing and adopt a Pollinator Policy, run the annual Monmouth Bee Festival, and build the profile of Monmouth as the UK’s first Bee Town.