The University of Venda (UNIVEN) in partnership with Bee African launched the UNIVEN Beekeeping Academy at the University’s Research Conference Centre on 17 April 2024. This Beekeeping Academy was launched to educate students, staff, and the surrounding communities about the importance of bees and how to make a living from products coming from bees.
Speaking at the Launch, UNIVEN Chancellor, Adv Mojanku Gumbi said UNIVEN is in support of the launch of this academy. She thanked the founder of Bee African (Mems Ramaila) for trusting UNIVEN with this project. Adv Gumbi underscored that there is a need to develop systems that will address the goals to be achieved through this academy. “We must be able to show a little more than what we do every day. Every day in your life there is an opportunity to give a little into somebody else’s life. We need to be our brothers’ keepers.” She mentioned that there is nothing more satisfying than to put even a smile on someone’s face. “UNIVEN is ready to make this project a success.” Adv Gumbi advised the founder of Bee African, UNIVEN staff, students, and attendees not to give up irrespective of challenges that they come across. She concluded her address by encouraging attendees to embrace this initiative. The founder of Bee Academy, Mems Ramaila said bees play an incredibly significant role in the ecosystem. “They play a significant role in food production.” She continued to tell the attendees that there are five more products from bees, namely honey, royal jelly, beeswax, bee pollen, and propolis. She said honey is also important in the pharmaceutical industry, they also generate bee venom that is used to produce certain medicines. When speaking about the outline of the Academy programme, Ramaila said the Sustainable Beekeeping and Entrepreneurship Short Learning Programme has a Pan-African orientation and offers five modules, namely the Fundamentals of Beekeeping; Setting up an Apiary and Bee Products; Bee Diseases and Pest Control; Beekeeping Entrepreneurship and Honey Extraction; and A Day with the Bees. She said there will also be practicals based on the area of specialisation.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Corporate Services, Dr Robert Martin (on the left photo) said the UNIVEN Strategic Plan 2021-2025 focuses on positioning the University for relevance and making impact. “We want to be a world class University that transforms our society and empowers people from the surrounding communities. We need to continue to contribute to our Biosphere. This programme fits directly into the direction of the Strategic Plan of this University. We have a focus on a wider scale, and we will be expanding this academy soon. From here we will infuse this Bee Academy programme into the academic programme of the University. With this launch we will be impacting the world from Thohoyandou.”
The Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Agriculture, Prof Natasha Potgieter (on the right photo above) said this project fits perfectly in our Strategic Plan 2021-2025. It will not only benefit the University but also assist communities to make a living out of what they would have learned from this Academy. She said they can even start businesses in the honey production field. “Honey can be used in various ways and has high impact in food production value chain. There is huge possibility on research that can be conducted on bees.” She encouraged attendees to get involved in this project, because a lot of people will benefit from it.

A representative from Tshidzivhe Community, Mr Philemon Ratshilumela Mashila (on the left photo) said there is a beekeeping project that is currently underway at Tshidzivhe. Mr Mashila further encouraged people to start doing business on beekeeping because there is shortage of honey supply in the world. In his Message of support Mr Mukundi Mushaphi, Vhembe District Municipality Local Economic Development Manager (on the right photo) said programmes of this nature are meant to empower our communities. He said this project
will assist our people to preserve our nature. “We are prepared to support this project and the establishment of this academy.”

Prof Oyesi Vysel Suzerer of Bingol University in Turkey (on the right photo) shared a comprehensive presentation about Bingol University and a Beekeeping programme as well as the products that they produce from honey which are on the shelves of supermarkets across the globe.They produce several products from the honey, and they also supply several companies with honey bees for the production of several products. He committed to work with the University of Venda in Beekeeping programme. Motlatjo Makaepea from Gauteng Province Department of Agriculture (on the left photo above) said Biodiversity is important. “We will continue to support entrepreneurs in Agriculture, especially those who are preserving our nature. The bee keeping industry needs a lot of women and we encourage women to enter this space and make a living out of it.” Mr Makaepea continued to mention that there is shortage of honey producers locally and internationally. Limpopo will soon be one of the leading provinces that are supplying honey or in beekeeping business. He thanked Bee African for this initiative that will empower this country economically. “Beekeeping is also important in the production of pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. We are always available to support this Beekeeping Academy,” he said.

In his message of support, the President of UNIVEN Convocation, Mr Sylvester Motadi (on the left photo) said the world is teaching us to acclimatise ourselves to the direction that the world takes us into. He said when the concept was introduced to them at its infant stage, they decided to fully support this initiative. “Like any other project, this project needs to be nurtured,” said Mr Motadi. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Postgraduate Studies, Prof Nosisi Feza (on the right photo above) advised attendees to commit into this project and make sure that it becomes a success. “We need projects like this to boost the economy of our villages. If we do not work on the village economy now, there is no one who will do it for us. We need to go to the villages to learn from village people because they know better than me and you. We should not allow people from elsewhere to come and steal our knowledge and ideas and make money out of us using the same information  or knowledge that we had.” Prof Feza said this beekeeping programme should be added into the programmes of the University.

BeeAfrican Founder (Mems Ramaila) and her team conducted the Sustainable Beekeeping Entrepreneurship Short Learning Programme from17 until Friday 19 April 2024. The launch was preceded by a networking dinner that took place at 2Ten Hotel.

Issued by:
Department of Marketing, Branding and Communication
University of Venda
Cell: 082 868 2218 or 082 868 1811

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