All our beehives are high up in trees to deter thieves. When I harvest honey, I climb the tree, lower the hive, rip it open, fill my bucket with honeycomb, and run. I wear only shorts because get caught underneath clothing and sting more. I’ve been stung more than 200 times harvesting honey. Every time I harvest honey, the hive is destroyed and the bees go crazy and leave.
~One beekeeper’s account of harvesting honey in Kaduna, Nigeria
In May 2013, Ellen traveled to Nigeria as a volunteer consultant on a USAID Farmer-to-Farmer program through Winrock International. In three weeks, Ellen taught an eight-day intensive training course to ten members of the Kagarko Beekeeping Association which focused on bee biology, personal safety, hive construction and management, and honey production. In response to interest from the larger community, Ellen also presented a four-day introductory class to non-beekeepers in the nearby village of Awon, where men, women, and youth learned the basics of beekeeping.
Upon completing the course, Ellen asked the beekeepers if they still thought she was crazy for telling them that she harvested honey without getting stung very often and without destroying the beehive. With enthusiastic response, the beekeepers retold the the lively stories about how they used to harvest honey and get stung, and indicated that they were excited to try some of the ideas Ellen presented. After building a model hive from cardboard, two of the participants built a full-size top-bar hive out of scrap material and lumber, which gives hope that they were motivated to test some of the newly learned methods.
Ellen received the President’s Volunteer Service Award in April 2014 for contributing over 144 hours of volunteer service on international assignment in Nigeria and demonstrating how local citizens can truly make a difference in today’s world.