Couple’s African beekeeping adventure

WHEN the chance arose to venture 4,000 miles across the globe on an African escapade, it was one a couple from Hatfield Broad Oak could not turn down.

Chairman of the Essex Beekeepers Association Richard Ridler and his wife Jane, a former biology teacher, were asked to visit the remote town of Kasese in Uganda to help teach local beekeepers the tricks of the trade.

During the two-week trip they explained how modern top-bar hives were more suited to African bees and their environment, and also taught the farmers how to make candles from bees’ wax – a by-product of the process, which the locals had been throwing away.

Mr Ridler said: “More than 800 villagers showed an interest in wanting to learn the skills needed to make honey and wax candles, which can then be sold to tourists at the nearby safari parks and in local shops.

“We also demonstrated how to make propolis – which bees collect from tree and plant sap for use in their hives. It can be used as natural medicine for all sorts of things, and is particularly good for mouth ulcers.”

The couple said they found the trip “hugely rewarding” and were looking forward to returning again at some point next year.

“We got to learn a lot about how other people live and what their take on life is, I found it fascinating,” Mr Ridler said. “I think we probably got more out of the trip than some of the farmers did but at the same time we both learned a lot during what was a very enjoyable couple of weeks.”

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Mr and Mrs Ridler, both 61, are now hoping to raise money for the Ugandan farmers they met so that the villagers can afford to buy modern hives and further their techniques.

Anyone who would like to make a donation should email Mr Ridler at