BEES!
 
2014 is the 3rd year for the Bee Keeping project, and I have to say that it is going VERY well. I have been working with the local beekeepers to understand basic bee behavior, using modern tools and equipment, equipment assembly and other basic beginner skills, knowledge and practices. While they may not have the money to afford the equipment and to build hives; they still have bees. Bees have been in Haiti since 1498 when Columbia brought them on his 3rd voyage to the New World.
The Haitians have been using hollowed logs for hives; covering with palm leaves and rocks; then us-ing banana stems with burning coals to smoke them out. They do know about bees and the need to handle them…very carefully!! However, using the logs are not efficient for them in honey production. To get the honey you sometimes have to destroy the hive. With frames you can take them out, spin the honey and return the frames for reuse.
We are working on bee spaces and equipment. They are learning more about the use of frames and the proper equipment to help handle the bee more efficiently. I have shared with them wood and built hives together with the frames. I have shared the bee suits with them and have let them try them.
 
 
 
Thank Goodness For Money and Brother Langstroth – 2013
 

Author’s note: For the non-beekeeper reading this article, the Reverend Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth (1810–1895), a native of Philadelphia, patented in 1852 the removable frame beehive with 3/8 inch bee space. This is the foundation and beginning of modern beekeeping as we know it today.

I have recently returned from my second trip to Creve, Haiti, launching the 3rd year of AFDC’s work in bringing modern beekeeping practices to this remote, mountainous community without electricity (other than a few generators) or running water.

Their historical practice has been to use log hives lying horizontal on the ground.
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With the help of Lonnie Funderburg, going in my place in 2013 and his very useful jigs, we have been working with the local beekeepers to understand such things as basic bee behavior, using modern tools and equipment, equipment assembly and other basic beginning beekeeper skills, knowledge and practices.

To the casual observer, it would seem to be an overwhelming challenge. But, it is not. While they may not have the money to afford new equipment, or the access to wood for construction, they still keep bees. Bees have been on the island of Hispaniola since about 1496 or so when Columbus brought them here, as the first bees in the New World, on his 3rd voyage.

Here are a few things that we are working on:
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Bee space. We’ve all heard about it, we all practice, but rarely do we see it except in feral colonies. The beekeepers in Creve are working to understand its importance.

They have heard of it, heard of frames, but there is still more work to be done.

Equipment. We have our nice stainless steel smokers and zippered outfit that nothing can penetrate. They have heard of these things and would like some, but this is what some of the beekeepers in Creve have to do. Foundation and it effective use is still somewhat a mystery to them.
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Note his smoker. A banana plant stem, lit with an ember from the family cook fire, with his lungs as the bellows. Notice his protective gear. Not a bit to be found. Notice the log hive on the ground, ends protected by rocks holding a large piece of banana plant bark in place. However, not the first sting when he opened it up.

Having said all this, they really do want to improve their practices.

This is what they are capable of doing.
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Working outside on just a stack of concrete blocks, right in the middle of the day’s hand washed laundry, Gael, our local beekeeper that we are using as the ‘on site’ instruction, is overseeing this quality bit of work.
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They simply need quality, patient instruction for us and a little other help.

On the trip next April, Gael and Choutte (our local interpreter and developing beekeeper) have identified 12 other local beekeepers who which to attend the Basic Beekeepers Class that we will hold. We will also be working with Gael in the next phase of his training.

This work is being done under the oversight of Aid For Developing Counties in Bentonville, Arkansas. This is a 501(c) organization with the sole purpose to help the community of Creve. Any donation you may wish to send should be directed to them. Their address can be found on their internet website.

Several of the Alabama Beekeepers have expressed interest in joining on the April trip. With 12 new students, one of them is a lady, in a beginning beekeepers class (with field work), intermediate beekeeping with Gael and Choutte, teaching basic business practices (how to market the honey for maximum profit), marketing, and quality, there will be plenty to do. I’ll keep in touch with those who already wish to go, and I’ll speak with anyone who may wish to go.

To sum this all up, Thank Goodness for Money so that we can purchase our fancy beekeeping items. Thank Goodness for Brother Langstroth for making it much easier to keep bees.

Damon Wallace
AFDC Beekeeping Mentor
Master Beekeeper – University of Georgia / Young Harris Bee Institute
Certified Welsh Honey Judge – University of Georgia / Young Harris Bee Institute
President – Alabama Beekeepers Association