A HONEY-BEE keeping training was successfully organised last week at Vavanga community on the west coast of Kolombangara, Western province.
The training was made possible under a partnership between the Gizo-based Natural Resources Development Foundation (NRDF) and Kolombangara Island Biodiversity Conservation Association (KIBCA).
This workshop was the first step in rolling out KIBCA’s Sustainable Livelihood Program, supported by Global Environment Fund (GEF) through its Small Grant Program, UNDP based in Honiara.
Twenty enthusiastic ladies came together from the communities of Iriri, Ghatere, Vavanga and Ringgi to learn all about what bees like, what bees don’t like, how to make frames and build beehives, how to harvest honey and all the other things you need to know to become a successful honeybee keeper.
A honeybee trainer from NRDF who has over 20 years’ experience working with honeybees in the Solomon Islands conducted the training.
From him, the ladies learned some surprising facts about bees. Did you know for example that it takes 1 million visits to flowers to produce just one teaspoon of honey? Did you also know that a new beehive can be started without a queen and the split will produce its own queen, provided it has fresh eggs?
Above all the ladies learned that honeybees have perfected a method of working co-operatively together for the benefit of the whole (honeybee) community.
With 30 – 50,000 worker bees in a single hive, and travelling up to 3 kilometres a day in search of juice, they rely on a system of effective communication.
The ladies took their cue from the bees and set about perfecting their communication skills over the 3-day workshop with much story-telling and laughter.
Justine one of the oldest participant she said, she was very happy to attend this program and found it very interesting.
On receiving their certificates, many of the women were keen to go to their community and start their own beehives as a result of the workshop.
NRDF and KIBCA are keen to see honeybee farming taken up by communities around Kolombangara as a sustainable alternative to logging.
Ferguson Vaghi, KIBCA’s Coordinator, said “Honeybee farming does not require a big area or clearing of native vegetation so it does not cause any damage to the environment.
“Honey is also one of nature’s special power foods with healing properties. KIBCA believes honeybee farming has great potential for the people of Kolombangara and is one which is complementary to our conservation efforts.
“We are aware of the threat posed by the Asian bee but we believe this can be overcome through vigilance and good management. The Protected Area and surrounding forest on Kolombangara provides an effective buffer to domestic beehives”.
Honeybee farming has the potential to make a meaningful financial contribution for individual communities, and for empowering women.
After the start-up cost of buying timber, foundation wax and a nuc or “bee nursery”, the cost of running a hive are low and the bees do all the work! Provided a hive is established in the right conditions and looked after regularly, it can start producing honey after only 6 weeks.
For these twenty ladies on Kolombangara, they now have the knowledge and it us to them to put it into practice.
In addition to providing the training, NRDF provided2 nucs for the VavangaWomens Savings Club.KIBCA will be providing 6 nucs for other participants from this workshop under its Sustainable Livelihoods Program and hopes to expand the training to other communities around Kolombangara in the future.
KIBCA also has a set of harvesting equipment including protective clothing which will be shared among the communities on Kolombangara as they need it.
Following the success of this workshop, NRDF and KIBCA intend to provide additional training workshops in the future.
The key projects under KIBCA’s Sustainable Livelihood Program, are: support for community-based savings clubs, eco-tourism enterprises and honeybee farming.
KIBCA has acknowledged the UNDP for its generous support.