Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Building up the Bees in Haiti

This post contains excerpts and photos from Dr. Michael Bauer's trip report about his recent F2F assignment in Haiti. 

"The bee industry in Haiti is still in its infancy. Despite deforestation and parasitic damage from diseases like the wax moth and varroa mites there is still great growth potential. There continues to be a high level of interest in beekeeping and a strong desire to become a beekeeper.  This assignment was intended to educate both potential beekeepers as well as to expand the knowledge base of current beekeepers. Return visits to sites where I had been on previous assignments was a strong desire of mine to see the impact of those sessions and to see what knowledge and skills were implemented in the group and individual bee colonies."

May 30, 2015: At one training at a Gonaive cooperative, "many of the attendees were students from a local agriculture college. They had had a brief introduction to beekeeping from their institution. This session included basic beekeeping, bee biology, bee life cycle, beekeeping equipment and its uses."

"There is a robust system of beekeeper associations in Haiti.  This provides a forum for transfer of information and beekeeping techniques as well as recruitment of new people, both men and women, into beekeeping." 

May 27, 2015: "Working with CODCOA cooperative members at an apiary [...] We placed a high degree of importance on trying to alleviate fear and helping participants develop comfort with colony manipulation. For some attendees, this was their first look inside a bee colony."

May 29, 2015: "Field day in ARAM apiary.  This was intended for experienced beekeepers and was a return visit for me to this apiary.  I was encouraged to see there had been substantial improvement in colony health and strength since my last visit.  Educational topics included colony management, disease detection, prevention, and treatment.  The majority of time was spent on identification of hygienic queen behavior and queen rearing techniques." 

"As on prior visits it is noted there is significant variability in the level of expertise of current beekeepers.  A good deal of transferred knowledge is based on tradition and handed down experience, not necessarily best practices.  Attendees were eager for education and anxious to become beekeepers themselves with the best preparation they could get."

"It was again my absolute joy to be a Farmer-to-Farmer beekeeping volunteer to Haiti. While beekeeping is not my primary profession it is certainly my passion.  It is my hope to spread that passion to those that will sit and listen to me chat endlessly about beekeeping. One thing I learned on this trip was after 6 hours of “bee chat” in the heat of the day others might not be quite as passionate as I am to continue to talk about bees!  Just saying. I would certainly hope to return to Haiti in the future."

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