Beehive Building in Medula

Beehive Building in Medula

After working out the kinks of the top bar hive frame construction in week one, our team of builders including myself, my brother Cien Keilty-Lucas, our long time friend Madeleine Ruegg, Tolera Kumsa, and our two local hired hands Tameskin Alemu and Mengestu, we started off the week with a mass production line Ethiopia has only seen far and few between. 

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When the Medula women’s group began to collaborate on the construction of their hives on Wednesday, it also didn’t take them long to get the bamboo weaving underway.

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The work could easily be seen as tedious, yet the women found a way to drown out the monotony with a fair bit of chatter, song and laughing.

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It was another informative and empowering week of class and a busy one of building, but in the end all participants were satisfied in the construction of their very own Top Bar beehive.

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Woven Bamboo Baskets

Woven Bamboo Baskets

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As I jumped on the back of a motorcycle this morning here outside of our temporary home  in the jungle paradise of Azedebo, I couldn’t feel more in my element. We only arrived yesterday afternoon, and I have already had my first contact with traditional beekeepers in the area. I couldn’t have done it myself though, and have Ashu, an extended Minneapolis family member so to speak, as well as Sigamo, my brother‘s local father figure to thank. Sigamo is very well known in the area so as we pulled up to the door, on our seperate motorcycle taxis, of local beekeepers who were more than happy to introduce us to their hives. I haven’t taken my head out of the trees since arriving, and this morning was no different. Each of the apiaries, placed behind the home of their owner are smack dead in the middle of an uncountable variety of acacias, banana, mango, avocado and coffee trees, as well as corn and the local teff grain.  We visited three beekeepers and their families, and each of the owners walked me straight to the hives so I was able to see firsthand what their style of beekeeping entailed. Made from woven bamboo these light weight cylindrical baskets were buzzing with action, especially on a cloudy and cool morning. Thanks to my friends and translators I was able to ask them a few questions in order to better understand what was going on. Using this traditional method a women speaking for her beekeeper husband, said that they are able to collect 2 kilos of honey from each hive each month.  Working during the night while the bees are resting, and therefore more docile, they smoke out the hives to rid the majority of bees and break off as much honey comb as possible. Because the fauna is dense and there is practically always a flower to visit, the bees are able to rebuild their honey combs in a matter of weeks. Just in time for the next months’ harvesting.  

Beekeeping In Madrid Underway

Beekeeping In Madrid Underway

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I wasn’t kidding, Anyone anywhere can be a beekeeper.

After 4.5 months of wonderful time spent between friends and family in beautiful landscapes across the United States, I arrived back to Madrid, Spain Tuesday morning still in time for some morning tapas of Spanish egg and potato tortilla garnished with a sauted green pepper and accompanied by the typical garlic toast and olive oil tomato marmalade. Oh yeah, and a glass of morning wine to break the jet leg.

Though I already miss the good times spent with loved ones back home, there’s something about Spain that just feels right.

I’ve jumped right back into the Spanish dialogue of day to life without much of  problem, though friends are eager to get there practice in and I welcome as well as encourage vocabulary sessions and joke telling in English as they come. My head is of course swimming between all the new and old contacts of great people I have around me, and I am currently going through the Spanish Synchronization process of reconnecting with all my friends on this side of the Atlantic. Smart phones, WIFI signals, and personal laptops make this all a breeze, the secret is creating the time to make it all happen.

After 2 days and a night spent in Ramon’s family’s apartment in Madrid, we made our way out to La Parcela, his family’s rural home in San Martin de La Vega, 35 kilometers  (about 22 miles) southwest of Madrid, and have been quite busy since.

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The majority of our time has been spent hauling wood. Though its NOTHING like the cold where I most recently came from back in Minneapolis, Minnesota, nights out here get a bit chilly and it’s oh so  nice to have a fire to warm up this big ceramic Spanish castle.

Many years ago Ramon’s Father bought 2 hectares of land, 20,000 square meters (almost 4 acres), down the valley from La Parcela, with the hopes of one day turning it into agriculture land. In the many years between the valley itself, for its relative closeness to the city has become a hub for resource digging, cement and stone the two most prized. Though the family land has remained untouched,  some of the neighboring land is nothing but quarries, filled with leftover laborer tools. Not the prettiest sight to say the least.

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Regardless, there happens to be quite a bit of abandoned property as well, filled with dead fruit trees and lumber making for great fire wood. In a stack of abandoned lumber we also happened to come across what in my eyes is a gold mine. A stack of 30 cm, 24 cm and 20 cm wide, 3 meter long boards. Just perfect for the Beehive prototype building we have in front of this coming week.

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There’s a bit more organization of the tools and the workspace to be done, as well as some sketches and conversions to be calculated, but all in all I couldn’t be more satisfied with whats been accomplished in the past 6 days since I’ve been back. I have a good feeling about all the work yet to come, and as we continue to organize our makeshift greenhouse this afternoon, I’ll continue to dream of all the bees we’ll be attracting here shortly.