Sunday, December 24, 2017

Pax Vobiscum

Wubishet Adugna hosted me in his home country of Ethiopia when I travelled to Africa as a USAID-funded volunteer, charged with teaching modern beekeeping techniques. Together, we travelled extensively through the Ethiopian highlands visiting beekeepers, farmers who tend honey bees in apiaries and tree tops sites. The farmers manage bees and tend crops, gardens, and livestock. When I taught beekeeping classes in Wubishet’s training facility at Bonga, Ethiopia, I spoke in English, and Wubishet translated my words into Amharic. Travelling together, we had the opportunity to discuss beekeeping traditions in detail. I am sure that we each learned from each other. I certainly learned much about honey bees and beekeeping from Wubishet. In part, I learned that much of the western literature on beekeeping in the tropics did not accurately describe beekeeping in Ethiopia’s diverse semi-tropical geography. Together, Wubishet and I shared our understanding of the art and science of beekeeping. The combination of these traditions is to me the joy of beekeeping. In our classes, we demonstrated how to manage honey bees in modern Zander bee hives, harvest honey and beeswax, and produce candles, cosmetic products, and mead. Ethiopia’s traditional beverage is tej, a most-enjoyable mead wine.

It was my great honor to sponsor Wubishet when he travelled to the United States and successfully completed the tests to become an Eastern Apicultural Society Certified Master Beekeeper at the 2017 EAS conference at the University of Delaware. Wubishet is the first EAS Master Beekeeper from the African continent. Wubishet teaches the art and science of beekeeping to farmers as an important part of Ethiopia’s mixed agriculture. My son, Peace Bee Farm beekeeper, Tod Underhill, had the opportunity to work with Wubishet on separate occasions. Here, you can see Wubishet and Tod enjoying a liter of tej in Addis Ababa. I encountered Christians, Muslims, and Naturalistic Believers living in harmony in Ethiopia. For these people and others, the Underhills of Peace Bee Farm extend our wish that peace be with you.


  1. Dear Richard, I was very interested to read your post. I was also pleased to hear that beekeepers are sharing information and encouraging other keepers in different countries.
    We live on the West Coast of Canada and have kept bees. When we first began we were in regular contact with our cousins in sub tropical Queensland. We were very surprised that considering the heat the hives were usually solid bottom types. Our cousin was a commercial keeper but now keeps under 20 hives on his own property. He is testing a named bottom board that allows ventilation and has found the two hives to have less hive beetle and produce more honey.
    Last year we lost our three hives - for various reasons but as we are travelling most of the year will not buy new nucs until we settle again.
    Thank you again for your posts.
    Regards and best of the season to you and your family.

  2. Screened bottom boards are useful for helping to reduce parasitic Varroa mites in the hives. They also help the bees cool the hive in hot weather. With solid bottom boards, more bees may be diverted from honey production to hive cooling tasks. Have safe and enjoyable travels.