Doing Life With… is a BellaNaija Features series that aims to showcase how people are living, working, travelling, journalling, taking care of their families and… everything in between. We aim to document the lives of
all people and ensure everyone is well-represented at BN through storytelling.
Last week, we had a conversation with Olanike Okunlola. Did you miss it? Read it here.
Today, we are doing life with Fauzziyah Isiak, a bee keeper and founder of Fauzziyah’s Honey. She gives us a breakdown of how to extract honey and the qualities of good honey. Dig in!
Hi Fauzziyah. How are you doing?
Hi. I am okay and well.
Great! Tell us about yourself
I’m a writer and beekeeper. I’m conservative, most of the time. I read, watch movies, or work in the garden for fun. I enjoy making things with my hands, like homemade drinks or soaps. I am always straightforward and honest.
Really cool. Give us a glimpse into your background
I am from Abeokuta, Ogun State. I was born and raised in Lagos. My most interesting childhood memory is when my dad helped me harvest the groundnut I planted at our site. It was a bucket full when harvested. I was 9 years old and my dad was so proud of me.
Aww, that must have made you feel so good
Ha, it did o.
So, why beekeeping?
Beekeeping is a hobby for me.
Hol’ up, hobbies are like singing, chilling… you know, something soft
Haha, I quit two jobs to focus on beekeeping.
So, not a hobby but a profession?
Truth is, I’ll still call it a hobby because I enjoy doing it. It doesn’t feel like work. I started beekeeping because I love agriculture. I was into poultry and crop farming at the time, and because I wanted to do something with a low mortality rate, so I went into beekeeping. This way, I also get to help the world and my environment stay alive when I provide shelter for bees.
Quite inspiring. Walk us through the process of extracting honey from bees
I wear a bee suit for protection, then I harvest the honey with a knife. After harvesting, I use an extractor to take the honey out from the comb and I package it as I harvest it. I sell the honey raw and unprocessed.
So this honey is not diluted
No, it’s 100% original.
How often do you get stung by the bees?
The bee suit is not 100% stringproof so I get stung almost every time I go to a beehive. There are over 20,000 bees in one beehive/colony so one or two of them may enter my clothes. The stings weaken me sometimes, but I’m getting used to them and I enjoy the adventure.
What do bees eat?
Honey is their primary source of food. Bees make honey from plants so they can eat it. Whenever I harvest honey, I don’t take all the honey so I can leave some for the bees to eat.
That’s very interesting. What are your day-to-day activities like as a bee farmer?
I leave the house around 5 a.m. every day to go to the forest. Most of my work is best done before the sun comes up. Whenever I am not on the field, I watch a movie or work on a writing project. I also read a lot. I love extensive reading on any subject. Also, nothing is as interesting as movies and food. I love good food. I eat every good delicacy in Nigeria. My current favourite song is “Lonely at the Top” by Àṣàkẹ́.
Let’s talk about the challenges you face running this business
My major challenge is insecurity. There have been lots of theft and destruction of hives in the past year. This makes me very scared to disclose the location of my apiary.
One beautiful or crazy memory you can never forget in the course of your work?
I can’t forget one time a bee stung me in my vein and I almost passed out because the venom went into my bloodstream. I sat down to regain consciousness as other bees hovered above me to sting me. I thought I was going to die in the forest because I went alone that day. After my eyes cleared, I laughed hard with hot tears in my eyes. I will never forget that day because the sting formed a dark scar on my hand.
Ouch! Sorry about that
Thank you. I just remind myself that I love doing this and nothing can deter me.
Interesting perspective! One fascinating thing about bees you’ve observed on your farm?
Not all bees sting. Some bees do not have the ability to sting, though they are not common in Nigeria. One thing that fascinates me about bees is how they communicate through dancing.
Haha, bees form a circle and then do a waggle dance to communicate.
Wow, so cool. Let’s talk about honey and how people can differentiate the original from the fake
The first thing people need to know is that there are over 300 types of honey and they have different taste, colours and textures. The best way to know the original honey is to conduct a lab test or to buy from a trusted source, most especially from a beekeeper.
Well, it can be hard to know a trusted source
True, but they exist.
One thing that makes you proud of yourself?
I can defend the honey I sell anywhere. I am very sure about what I do.
One life motivationmthat keeps you going?
With passion, you can conquer the world. One thing that keeps me going is that it will always work out once I have passion for it. When I lose interest in something, I stop doing it.
Thanks for being on Doing Life With…, Fauzziyah
Thank you for having me, BellaNaija.
Many thanks to Fauzziyah for having this conversation with us. Do you love this content, have any feedback for us, want to be a BellaNaija Features contributor or want to be featured on Doing Life With…? We’d love to hear from you. Shoot us an email: [email protected]
Join us on Saturday for the next episode!