Reap what you Sow

Reap what you Sow

“Paciencia es la madre de ciencia”,

It’s is a wonderful Spanish phrase translating to

“Patience is the mother of science”

I was reminded of this phrase this past weekend as we tended to the hives, 35 kilometers southwest of Spain’s capital, Madrid. We envisioned ourselves harvesting what we could from the seasons honey but were excited to see that our plans would have to be delayed. The bees seem to be loving the changing of the season and there non stop pursuit for the life giving nectar shows in the reflective glitter of the heavy combs that line their hive. We as beekeepers do nothing more than give them more space to continue doing what they are already doing.

Happy Hives

Happy Hives

The summer, like most here in Madrid has been hot, temperatures reached the high 90’s on a daily basis, and the majority of the bees had no choice but to stay close to the hive in order to help with the ventilation. In order to do so and keep the temperature of the hive at no more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 35 degrees Celsius, they flap their wings at rapidly fast speeds functioning as a natural air conditioning system. Its a constant balancing act, as the population grows and the hives heats up from both the inside and outside the bees most stay in constant communication

As the seasons begin to change, the nights begin to get cooler and the sun gives us all a bit more breathing room, the bees begin to take advantage in their foraging.Their hard work of temperature management of the summer is now being rewarded with the abundance of nectar in the area. And we are happy to see that the region’s fauna offers much to choose from.  The days continue to be in the 80’s it also seams that the bees as well as the us as the beekeepers have plenty of time to make the necessary arrangements to get through winter.

Ventilation takes place in the hive as well as in front of the entrance in order to pull the hot air out.

Ventilation takes place in the hive as well as in front of the entrance in order to pull the hot air out.

What I enjoy most about this relationship with nature is the opportunity I am offered to reflect upon the events in my own life. Hard work and determination do pay off, and with patience and intention I will reach my goals. As the beehives demonstrate its not always at the time you may have imagined, but that doesn’t mean that the fruits wont come.

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Recently stretched wax cells prepped for nectar storage

 My hopes of the getting back to Ethiopia this September to continue the partnership with my brothers work through Ethiopia Reads and community beekeepers is know pushed back to the coming spring.

My return back to Madrid has brought some unimagined changes, and as I begin to fall into a but of a routine, with a new Montessori English teaching job, a new apartment and an invigorating daily commute by bicycle through this swarming city, I find myself enjoying this new structure to build off of.

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Propolis harvest underway

I am hoping to rework the programing designed last spring to make a larger impact within a shorter period of time by expanding upon the family education aspect,  find new partnerships through new organizations and individuals, as well as continue the collaboration with the Holetta Bee Research Center in Ethiopia.

 So what all comes down to now, for both the bees and everyone else, is a bit of consistency. Day to day, and then week by week we’ll make the necessary preparations to successfully pass through fall into winter. And with the passing of the months, and a season of rest and hibernation we will return in the spring with even more health and vigor than the year before.

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Holeta Bee Research Center

Holeta Bee Research Center

More than a month ago, upon my arrival to Addis, Cien and I had the opportunity of attending a National Honey Board Association conference where we met some very important Ethiopian beekeepers as well as researchers. One of those key players is Desalegn Begna, the Senior Ethiopian Researcher, Advisor and President of the Ethiopian Beekeepers association. Having exchanged basic information over our current beekeeping endeavors at the meetings’ coffee break, we met up this past Monday in Addis to assess to the progress of our goals.

Having recently returned from Kembata-Tembaro I was eager to share with him the information I had gathered over our community meetings. As I have previously mentioned, beekeeping whether traditional or modern is very popular in Ethiopia, leading the country to be the largest honey producer in Africa and the third largest in the world. Wax production, although only fulfilling 15% of its full potential also ranks in the top 4 though out the world. Because of this success, beekeeping and production are heavily recorded across the country, yet the Kembata-Tembaro region of the southwest is statistically untouched. Therefore my general assessment of the Azedabo and Kololo villages is of great interest to the beekeeping community.

Over the bustling merchants of the sadist kilo coffee shop, I reiterated my interest in beekeeping for health and nutrition, both bee and human.  With a PhD in bee biology and years of experience with beekeeping for development work here in Ethiopia, Desalegn was enthusiastic to offer his support and assistance, as well as research supervision of my goals. Of greatest interest is my desire to collaborate with him and his colleagues at the Holeta Bee Research Center, where they investigate as well as develop community appropriate beekeeping methods. Eager to assist Desalegn picked up  the phone and arranged a tour at the center for the following day.

Tuesday April 23rd, Cien, Ashu, our trusted driver Getsh and I, rented a car and traveled 35 kilometers north to the Oromia Agriculture Research Institute where the Holeta Bee Research center is located. Founded as the Beekeeping Demonstration Station in 1965 and later changed to its current name, the center engages in full time research on improved management of beekeeping, bee product handling and processing, bee forage biology of local honeybees, bee health, socio-economic and extension research. Moreover the center has been producing skilled manpower in the fielded of beekeeping through training beekeeping experts, bee technicians and beekeepers of the country.

Upon our arrival we were greeted by our tour guide and bee management specialist Tolera Kumsa, and began our 2 hour introduction to the compound. I was again amazed at my good fortune of finding such a bee information goldmine and made sure to gather as much information as possible. However it wasn’t difficult as one of the center’s main goals is focused on transparency.

Planted for their year round bee forage benefits, the red bottle brush bushes line the walk ways around the center.

Planted for their year round bee forage benefits, the red bottle brush bushes line the walk ways around the center.

Research Areas fill the compound for various investigations taking place

Research Areas fill the compound for various investigations taking place.

With a Eucalyptus wood frame and bamboo in lays the construction of this hive is not only locally appropriate but very affordable.

With a Eucalyptus wood frame and bamboo in lays the construction of this hive is not only locally appropriate but very affordable.

No Bee Research center is complete without its wall of honey

No Bee Research center is complete without its wall of honey

From local Getame Trees, this honey was outstanding!

From local Getame Trees, this honey was outstanding!

Pollen was also on hand. Though known for its vitalizing qualities, the product is still locally unavailable on its own.

Pollen was also on hand. Though known for its vitalizing qualities, the product is still locally unavailable on its own.

Wax, Propolis and Pollen are all being harvested as well as researched upon at the center

Wax, Propolis and Pollen are all being harvested as well as researched upon at the center

Part of the center is devoted to Flora and Vegetation research Here your see a few of the endemic seeds in which they offer to beekeepers to enhance their nectar flow as well as crop pollination.

Part of the center is devoted to Flora and Vegetation research Here your see a few of the endemic seeds in which they offer to beekeepers to enhance their nectar flow as well as crop pollination.

Inlcuding the Element protecting roof, a hand ful of nails and metel wire for tension. the hive costs 100 Bir. That's less then 6 US dollars or just over 4 Euros

Inlcuding the Element protecting roof, a hand ful of nails and metel wire for tension. the hive costs 100 Bir. That’s less then 6 US dollars or just over 4 Euros

Modern beekeeping technology is also on hand for research work and we were again impressed by the ingenuity of locally available resources.

Modern beekeeping technology is also on hand for research work and we were again impressed by the ingenuity of locally available resources.

We finished the visit by visiting with collaborating researchers. All of whom are interested in assisting in our initiative in any way possible.

We finished the visit by visiting with collaborating researchers. All of whom are interested in assisting in our initiative in any way possible.