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Bees Take the Sting Out of Poverty

David WorkmanToday’s guest blogger is David Workman, a marketing consultant with BBS & Associates. For over 10 years, he’s been helping ministries further their God-given vision through effective donor communication. “Some are called to go. Some are called to send. I’m passionate about connecting the goers and the senders, so they can both ‘do the good works that God prepared in advance for them to do.’” (Eph 2:10). When he’s not serving ministries, David enjoys playing golf, coaching soccer, and chasing his three sons around the neighborhood. Learn more about BBS & Associates at


Bees. Why did it have to be bees? Like Indiana Jones before the pit of snakes, there I stood—dressed head to toe in protective gear—walking on my own volition into a throng of hostile, angry, Africanized honey bees. If bees can smell fear, I was a 6-foot bottle of Old Spice.

Beeking in NicaraguaFor me, bees are Fear. Pain. They evoke a visceral reaction of flight, not fight. When I was a kid, I accidentally ate a bee. (It landed on my sandwich). The bee was not amused—it stung me inside my mouth, resulting in excruciating pain and a life lived in constant melissophobia (fear of bees). If you’re thinking, “Oh that can’t be that bad,” I encourage you to try it.

But for thousands of children and families living in Nicaragua, bees are Hope. Opportunity. A Promise for a better future.

As a marketing consultant for Food for the Hungry (FH), I spend much of my time talking and writing about the great and important work of FH. To better understand how to communicate their purpose and vision, they invited me to join them for a field visit in Nicaragua.

Nicaraguan woman

This woman’s home is right on the edge of the landfill. You can see the trash behind her.

I’ll never forget the first village we visited. Here was the kind of poverty that escapes the American experience. An entire community built on the edge of a landfill. Its economic foundation: sending children into the sea of trash to dig for something worthwhile to sell. I can still smell it. Thick, humid air saturated with the smoke from burning garbage. If only the Internet were scratch-and-sniff.

But Food for the Hungry gives these people hope for something better. Through education and livelihood programs, kids stay in school and parents learn a better way to provide for their families.

Enter bees. Those terrible, menacing, stinging creatures that have the power to rewrite the future for generations of Nicaraguans. In another village we visited, FH launched a beekeeping program. Walking with the community leaders, FH provided bees, hives, equipment and training.

Members of the community now keep the bees to harvest and sell the honey. In poverty stricken areas, simple industries like this can rewrite the future for families. A little money here can pay the children’s school fees. A little there can buy enough food to last through poor growing seasons. After a while, they can buy a cow or goat to generate their own milk. Or chickens, for meat and eggs—which they can eat and sell. They can become truly self-sufficient.

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Beekeeping business plan in Nicaragua

Full of pride, this community leader shares his business plan.

As I listened to community leaders share their business model, I realized that change was happening. Gone was the desperation—the fear—the hopelessness. This community was filled with pride and expectation. These bees were making honey. And that honey would be sold. For maybe the first time, they had hope for what could be.

As we approached the bee hives, the anxiety in my soul was overwhelming. The sound of buzzing was deafening. Sweat was pouring off my skin. Bees were landing on my suit, trying desperately to jam their stingers through the fabric. My gloves were peppered with dozens of failed attempts to injure me. They tried to sting my camera. They were out for blood.  I felt like I was in a submarine and the walls were about to give.

But then God showed me something. What I was feeling…the fear of what could happen—the anxiety of my current situation—the helplessness to do anything about it—these are the daily struggles of people trapped in poverty. For too many people, feeling that way is just a part of life. I’m grateful to work with FH to help alleviate that burden for families across the globe.

Fresh honey, straight from the comb. The sweetest I’ve ever tasted.

Fresh honey, straight from the comb. The sweetest I’ve ever tasted.

After harvesting the honeycomb and making it back to the village, we got to taste the honey. It was so good. Not just because it was fresh, pure and sweet—but was part of the answer for which so many people had been praying. It was a great opportunity to physically “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8.)

I still don’t like bees. But at least now they help me remember my friends in Nicaragua—and the vastly different future they will have because of the amazing work of Food for the Hungry.


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