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Sustainability impact assessment of the honey and beeswax supply chain


Environmental and socio-economic impact assessment, research

Sustainability impact assessment of the honey and beeswax supply chain


The Body Shop


Bees for Development

Beeswax and honey

Crops or productive systems

Implementation dates

December 2018 - May 2019


900 producers

About the project

The objective of this project was to assess the ecological and social impact of beeswax and honey harvesting in The Body Shop supply chain in Ethiopia to give a scientifically sound and objective view on the environmental and socio-economic sustainability of these products.

The aim of the study was also to explore the impacts on animal welfare of forest beekeeping and if it has a positive or detrimental impact on the bee population - this can be further highlighted as it is 50% of the study.

The project included a scientific literature review, stakeholder mapping and consultation on forest beekeeping, interviews of beekeepers and observation of forest production sites, analysis of results and recommendations for the possible long-term support of forest beekeeping. SAN acted as the general project coordinator and was in charge of the environmental and socio-economic impact assessment. SAN’s partner organization, Bees for Development, conducted the respective bee population studies. The project intended to provide reliable answers to important questions such as:

  • Is forest beekeeping in Ethiopia ecologically sustainable?

  • How does the act of harvesting honey impact on individual bees and individual bee colonies?

  • How does the act of harvesting honey impact on the ability of bee colonies to reproduce and hence maintain the overall honey bee population?

  • What is the impact of this activity on forests and communities?

The research focused on a group of 900 producers in Southwest Ethiopia. A better understanding of the importance of these traditional forest harvesting practices, for the communities and producers, intended to contribute to optimize the benefits for the local people and work to reduce negative aspects. On the other hand, assessing the impact of these practices on the environment, aimed to help address any implicit risks.


Both desk and field research provided the data needed to gain an increased understanding of the beeswax and honey harvesting in Ethiopia.

The project aimed to:

  • Understand the positive and negative impacts of the forest bee-keeping trade;

  • Show the economic value of this activity for the producers and their communities;

  • Value the importance of these productive activities for the tradition and social cohesion; and

  • Highlight key social and environmental impacts and provide recommendations to address them.

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