Local Man Enjoys ‘Beeing’ The Keeper Of His Fellow Man In Africa

Author: C.L. Harmon
Category: People
Date Published: August 7, 2017
Kasese and another man walking with small children from an African village with a mountain in the background
Sierra Leone image of Ziegler
Ziegler in Kurobon­la, Sier­ra Leone dur­ing his time in the Peace Corp

Keeping the Bees

“Get­ting stung is just part of it,” he quipped. But in the grand scheme of things, a sour sting now and then is well worth the sweet results Lloyd Ziegler of Man­n­ford, Okla­homa, sees by vol­un­teer­ing his time as a bee­keep­ing con­sul­tant in Africa. As in many cas­es for entre­pre­neur­ial pur­suits, this is a hob­by turned pro­fes­sion that Ziegler became inter­est­ed in dur­ing his time in the Peace Corp while in Sier­ra Leone in 1969.

U.S Aid has become inter­est­ed in the prospect of help­ing peo­ple in the rur­al areas by teach­ing them a method to turn the vast amounts of hon­ey pro­duced in those areas into a com­mod­i­ty that can improve their or even pro­vide par­tial finan­cial sta­bil­i­ty Ziegler explained. He went on to say that one vil­lage can have as many as 100 bee­hives and those hives pro­duce so much hon­ey that the vil­lagers don’t know what to do with it. In short, many areas are poten­tial­ly afflu­ent with a prod­uct com­mod­i­ty but do not have the infra­struc­ture and knowl­edge to har­vest and mar­ket the commodity.

a line of honeycomb awaits packing in Africa
Fresh hon­ey­comb ready for packaging

As a bee­keep­er with over 40 years of expe­ri­ence and the suc­cess­ful busi­ness own­er of Ace Bee & Wasp, Con­trol, Ziegler is able to teach peo­ple the meth­ods nec­es­sary to turn their liq­uid gold into the sweet nec­tar of poten­tial prof­it. Teach­ing oth­ers is anoth­er skill set he pos­sess­es as a for­mer math teacher. 

To give one the idea of how bad­ly peo­ple need guid­ance in their quest to har­vest the poten­tials of bee­keep­ing, Ziegler said that when he first began going to Africa, the vil­lagers were work­ing with the African killer bees with­out any pro­tec­tion what­so­ev­er. They were work­ing the hives at night in noth­ing but their underwear.

“When I first saw them doing this, I thought to myself; peo­ple aren’t bee­keep­ers, they are war­riors!” He fol­lowed this with a laugh, but one can cer­tain­ly see from this image the des­per­ate need peo­ple have for guid­ance. He explained that these bee­keep­ers would get stung mul­ti­ple times, and when they fin­ished col­lect­ing the hon­ey, their wives would bathe them and pull the stingers out for them. This was a way of life for peo­ple, he said. Anoth­er down­fall to the method of har­vest­ing the hon­ey in this man­ner is the fact that the bees would have to be killed. As ter­ri­ble as this is, the peo­ple had no oth­er choice since they did not have pro­tec­tive gear, he said.

A swarm of bees surround a man that is bending over
Ziegler and a swarm of bees

By teach­ing them to har­vest with pro­tec­tive gear tech­nol­o­gy, Ziegler is slow­ly being able to pro­tect both the vil­lagers and the envi­ron­ment by sav­ing the bees. How­ev­er, for every solu­tion, there seem to be two new prob­lems, as any busi­ness own­er can attest. Although Ziegler has been able to help increase pro­duc­tion, mar­ket­ing and pack­ag­ing present a whole new set of challenges. 

In some areas, the avail­abil­i­ty of pack­ag­ing prod­ucts is not even avail­able, and vil­lagers pro­cure used water bot­tles to place the hon­ey for sale. This is not a viable or safe option to mar­ket on a large scale and one of the aspects that Ziegler is hop­ing to improve through his involve­ment with U.S. Aid. He hopes to con­tin­ue being a prob­lem solver for peo­ple and give them new hope to taste the sweet rewards with­in their gold­en opportunity.

He was hon­ored with the Okla­homa Bee­keep­er of the Year award in 2012 and uses his 40 hives near Man­n­ford to pro­duce prod­ucts such as pollen, beeswax, propo­lis, and var­i­ous val­ue-added prod­ucts such as propo­lis tinc­ture and skin balms in addi­tion to hon­ey.

C.L. Harmon

C.L. Harmon

C.L. is an award-winning journalist who spent many years in the newspaper and freelance fields. In addition to holding reporting and editing positions throughout his career, he also owned and operated a newspaper for several years. He was born, raised, and continues to reside in Oklahoma.


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Doing what is right costs. It costs something we value; something which hurts to lose. As such, it becomes easier to hold onto what we give worth, than to let it go and invest in the greater good. And within the good that is lost is the cost we ultimately pay for placing more value on ourselves than on others. Holding onto to more in hopes of losing less only has true worth if others see that value. And no one places worth on selfishness and arrogance because they gain nothing from it. They value what is gained more by others’ humility and sacrifice. - C.L. Harmon
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