Bee Pharma Africa

Malawi beekeepers outside community building with Hugo Fearnley Malawi beekeepers outside community building with Hugo Fearnley

1. What is Bee Pharma Africa?

Bee Pharma Africa is building a consortium of:

  • Apicultural Scientists
  • Biomedical Scientists
  • Agricultural and Environmental Scientists
  • Local Medical Practitioners and Health Promotion Agencies
  • Local Community and Governmental Agencies and
  • Bee Product Producers

to work together to further understand, develop and deliver honey bee derived medicines and health support in relation to three of Africa’s most intractable diseases.

  • Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by parasitic protozoans (a type of unicellular microorganism) of the genus Plasmodium
  • Leishmaniasis is a genus of trypanosomatid protozoa and is the parasite responsible for the disease leishmaniasis
  • Trypanosomiasis or trypanosomosis is the name of several diseases in vertebrates caused by parasitic protozoan trypanosomes of the genus Trypanosoma

2. Why Bee Medicines?

Research over the last 20 years has revealed the beehive to be a flying pharmacy. Work undertaken by world class research institutions throughout the developed world has explored the medicinal properties of honey, propolis, pollen, royal jelly and bee venom delivered both as targeted pharmaceuticals but more usually as whole natural products.

3. Why Local?

  • Local Availability: Firstly beekeeping and the harvesting of bee products has become an increasingly important part of the rural economy in many African countries.
  • Local effectiveness: Research into the role of propolis (the bee’s immune defence system) has illustrated how honey bee colonies appear to be collecting within the chemical composition of propolis, chemicals and properties that relate to the local environmental disease patterns. So for example the propolis produced in bee colonies found in hot and humid climates is more anti bacterial than in other climatic zones.Also it appears that propolis collected and processed by bees within areas where sleeping sickness is prevalent, contains anti-trypanosome compounds.
  • Local Research: Research into the activity of bee medicines has the potential to provide stimulation of the research base in countries within Africa. The research falls in several areas:

    • Development of local analytical (quality) technology
    • Identification of specific treatments for local protozoal infections
    • Discovery of additional medicinal function of bee pharma
    • Environmental mapping of plant distribution through the information contained in bee pharma
    • A greater understanding of bee behaviour and the role of the bee in different environments

  • Local Economic Development: The development of applications for bee products in medicine would stimulate local enterprise in the fields of apiculture and bee product processing.

Hugo Fearnley being given a sample of propolis next to a bee hive in Malawi Hugo Fearnley collecting a sample of propolis in Malawi

4. Which countries could be involved?

  • Kenya
  • Tanzania
  • Zambia
  • Malawi
  • Cameroon
  • Nigeria
  • Ghana

5. Who has shown interest in joining the consortium?

So far the following organisations have expressed an interest in working with or supporting the project.

Apicultural Apitherapeutic and Environmental Scientists

  • ARC - Apiceutical Research Centre - UK
  • University of Ljubljana - Slovenia
  • Dr Stefan Stangaciu - International Apitherapy Consultant
  • Biorenewables Development Centre, University of York - UK
  • Phytobiotechnology Research Foundation - Cameroon
  • University of Agriculture - Nigeria

Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Scientists

  • Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences - UK
  • School of Veterinary Science , University of Glasgow - UK
  • Centre for Pharmaceutical Engineering Science , University of Bradford - UK
  • National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research & Development - Nigeria

Local Medical, Health and Development Organisations

  • Bees for Development - UK based, work internationally
  • RUDEC - Cameroon
  • Green Care - Cameroon
  • Boyo Association for Rural Development - Cameroon
  • FADECO Northern Tanzania
  • Zambian Development Agency - Zambia
  • Regional Development Agency Tanzania
  • Apis Interactive Network - Nigeria

Bee Product Producers

  • BeeVital - UK
  • CC Pollen - US
  • Forest Honey - Zambia
  • Jasmine Bee - Tanzania
  • Pemba Clove Honey Company - Tanzania
  • Sehai Honey - Nigeria
  • Barg Honey - Nigeria

5. Who will manage the consortium?

The consortium will be managed jointly by ARC (Apiceutical Research Centre) and SIPBS (Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences).

6. What does BeePharmaAfrica want to do?

  • Collect propolis and honey samples which map onto the known regions where the three major protozoal diseases are present in humans and animals in Africa
  • Undertake botanical, chemical and biological profiling of samples
  • Test samples showing promising activity
  • Formulate, develop and produce simple and appropriate local delivery systems
  • Identify and train local delivery organisations
  • Promote beekeeping as a tool for sustainable economic development
  • Develop and pilot health support programmes in a selection of each disease area
  • Develop Apiceutical Collection Programmes
  • Stimulate local academic research within the countries from which the samples will be collected