April 2019

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Beekeeping training training in Chipata

Last year, April 2018, Frank Leenen (PUM expert) visited Chipata for a "fact finding mission beekeeping in Chipata". He concluded that there is a market for honey for small scale beekeepers, usually farmers, provided they meet certain conditions. The first five enthusiastic beekeepers received a basic training and afterwards they were given assignments.

The conclusion of the beekeepers was that they would like to form a group and join forces. A group of five beekeepers is too small to set up a complete production process, which is why Jacana has invited Frank again. It was decided to train 11 other beekeepers and to investigate how we can achieve up scaling.

Frank arrived on April 6, 2019 and spent the first few days visiting new beekeepers. He included these impressions in the training that took place on April 10. In total there were 13 beekeepers. Frank has given a training in which he went back to the basics of beekeeping, namely what type of animal is a bee and how can we see the bee colony as a "farm animal", just like the cow, goat, sheep or chicken. The beekeepers sat on the edge of their seats and eagerly took the information.

Most people who keep beehives quickly call themselves a beekeeper, but unfortunately they often lack knowledge. It is thought that it is easy to make money, but if you do not treat a farm animal properly, it will not deliver optimum yield.

The beekeepers have learned that the hive must meet certain requirements. The bees must be protected against ants, snakes, mice, rain, forest fires - which unfortunately occur very often here - etc. That is why it is first of all important that the hives are in order before you start keeping bees. So far, most beekeepers have hired others to harvest the honey, and this is often not done in the most friendly way. Many bees die because fire is used or too much honey is taken away so that the bees cannot survive in times of scarcity. We call these beekeepers "honey hunters".

The training is not only limited to theory. The beekeepers went in groups, under the guidance of Frank, to a number of hives and jointly viewed and inspected the hives to see how the bees organize themselves and store honey. Sometimes the bees did not agree that the hive was opened and they started to defend themselves. The African bee, the Scutellata, is a pretty defensive bee and it is necessary because of his enemies. But luckily everyone was wearing protective clothing and no one was stung. However, a group had to take a short ride in the car, wearing all protective clothing, to get rid off the defensive bees.

After the practical lesson, the beekeepers met for another day and exchanged experiences. Frank had brought a number of honeycombs from the field and they were analyzed and discussed during this day. He also showed how the wax can be separated from the honey.

At the end of the day it was discussed how the group wanted to continue. Most want to unite in a cooperative. But before we enter this process, they want to improve their hives as a first step, because some things were still lacking. After the July harvest, we come together again to work out how we can proceed.

technical training

In the meantime Jacana will try to raise funds to make the whole process a success. This requires good trainers who, like Frank, can make small beekeepers aware of how important it is that the bee is seen as a "farm animal" and is treated accordingly. This requires a train the trainer program. The more experienced beekeepers become, the more important it becomes that beekeepers can market their honey. A production process must be set up for this. From bees to honey in the jar that is sold on the local and national market. That makes the circle round. 

Frank thanks that you have once again been able to transfer your enthusiasm for keeping bees to the beekeepers of Chipata.


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