Transferring bees from traditional basket style hives to our newly constructed mud finished top bar hives was a very exciting part of our training sessions held in the Ambakuna and Medula beekeeper communities.
Our exemplary hive transfers took place with each of the respective groups at the homes of a volunteer participant Friday and Saturday evening. Participants gathered in their newly furbished protective bee gear and we began the session with demonstrations on the use of the hive smokers.
This alone was a worthwhile lesson. As in the past hive smoking was performed with the use of a free smoking ceramic basin, the presence of modern smokers allow beekeepers to control not only the amount of smoke they disperse but therefore they can better control the aggressive African bees they deal with.
Once demonstrated, trainees were gathered into an open space out of view from the existing hives. As soon as the sun went down, the basket hive and colony identified for transferring was carried to the work space, filled with smoke and from Amharic to Tembarenya trainees began an indispendable hands on lesson.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Welcome to the Kololo village. Or better yet Ambakuna as Im getting to know the broader areas’ residents.
2 year ago my brother Cien Keilty-Lucas lived in this quiet little jungle town while organizing the construction of this beautiful school in the background. He slept, ate, worked, and drank coffee with the community for 8 months while getting to know them and now hes back for another round. Just this time, we are beekeeping.
The area has a long history of the trade and the 82 village members we met with on Sunday afternoon acounted for over 300 beehives. They are mainly traditional hives, long cyclinder baskets covered with dried leaves, and produce about 10 kilos of honey a year.
So this time around, instead of building schools my brothers been helping me get our BeeFreeApiaries beekeepers education program off the ground.
After holding a lottery sunday afternoon to select 18 men and 18 women at random to participate in the program we began on monday with a bit of theoretical work.
Thanks to Tolera Kumsa, from the Holetta Bee research center, the students have been engaged and excited from the start. They are eager in asking questions and already understand the benefits of switching to transitional hives.
We’re only getting started and definitly have our work cut out for us, but its looking to be a promising start to an evergrowing program.
Thanks to a newly acquired collaboration with the ngo WEEMA International, Bee Free Apiaries is excited to announce that we will be implementing three, week long beekeeper education workshops and seminars in February of 2014!
With WEEMA’s collaboration we will be educating beekeepers in the villages of Kololo and Mudula in the Region of Kembata-Tembaro Ethiopia. 105 new and old beekeepers, including at least 50% women, will be trained on basic bee biology as well as transitional beekeeping hive designs and methods. This combination will insure that beekeepers have the necessary information to better support their livelihoods as beekeepers.
Kololo Beekeepers Meeting
To read more about our collaboration with WEEMA as well as more on their amazing work in Ethiopia, follow the link below.