Supporting existing and traditional beekeeping

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Support of existing and traditional beekeepers

When Rupert’s Honey implements development projects in beekeeping care is taken to select applicable areas based on a number of factors, but primarily suitable bee forage and location of villagers to transport possibilities. Some villagers are very remote, often accessible only on foot, bicycle or motor bike and they work fine within a project, but ease of transport for equipment and harvesting of hives is a prime consideration.

Within these areas traditional or commercial beekeeping is often found and the project makes every attempt to include and accept existing beekeepers into the project. Either they are able to increase their own number of hives, or they learn new sustainable methods of honey harvesting and bee hive management. The Obudu Ranch Honey project in Nigeria had a number of participants in the training course that were professional beekeepers in their own right and showed great appreciation for the additional knowledge gained opportunity to learn and teach others. A number of beekeepers came from other provinces in order to take part in the training program and implement what they learnt in their own areas. Skills transfer and knowledge to other beekeeper helps lift and develop the honey industry within the country of operation. Two of our Mozambique Apicultural Projects had professional beekeepers apply for work and these both become trusted trainers and mentors within their own communities and other after being taken into the project.

By implementing a decent sized project (over 1000 hives in general) modern extraction facilities and honey purchasing centres are established. This helps traditional beekeepers and others outside the scope of the project with access to markets (selling to a honey extraction plant) and or access to markets which were not available previously.

A decent sized beekeeping project also gathers its own momentum and lifts the beekeeping in the area of operation and the honey sector in general. This often attracts merchants who want to purchase honey and customers often travel to a local area if they know honey is for sale. This lifts traditional beekeeping and gives them opportunities for marketing their products along side those of the project.

An interesting conflict can arise with bees leaving traditional hives to take occupation in Jackson Horizontal Hives. This happened on a number of occasions in Nigeria were bees were being kept in clay pots in high rainfall and humid areas. The Internal micro climate of these vessels is not optimal for bees and causes additional work for bees to produce honey. The JHH installed as part of the project attracted swarms from local beekeepers and they were soon occupied, either from a split hive or a direct absconding. There was a fair amount of additional work to get traditional beekeepers involved in the project so that they could use the JHH, which the bees preferred, over the clay pots that had been used. Methods of apiary maintenance was also vital for these beekeepers as pots were placed in thick vegetation which is detrimental for bees close to the ground. The access to a local honey factory and a ready market also greatly improved the existing beekeeping in this region.