June 25 MCC held a workshop on beekeeping in the Guarani village Caipepe near Charagua Estación. The main focus was preparing the community to care for their bees through the winter. I knew very little about beekeeping before this having helped harvest honey at WHRI as an intern. The workshop was led by Patrocinio G. who has had a lot of experience working with beekeeping near Vallegrande and Moro Moro with an MCC project that helped organize an association of apiarists that is now self-sufficient and thriving. The workshop was entirely in Spanish and we drank a lot of maté to keep warm because it was outside, cold and windy. We will follow up this workshop with another one it warms up at the end of August about how to grow the hives during the warm season and another in January about harvesting the honey.
I couldn’t possibly sum up everything I learned in 4-6 hours, but I am definitely interested in learning more and maybe having a hive or two when we get back to Texas. The main thing I learned is that beekeeping is more work than people think. I assumed it was a great way for people to grow food and earn money, because it required very little labor. I was wrong. In order to maintain your hives and have a good harvest of honey you have to be much more hands-on. It may be less work than some other agricultural enterprises, but it still requires attention and maintenance to be successful.
The other thing I’m learning is the roles of different organisms in the ecosystem that can help us plant better gardens and farm better. Pollinators are crucial for producing food and we have to cultivate them and think about what plants most benefit and help them thrive. Other organisms like fungi are not so obvious but play an extremely important role in the ecosystem that sustains us.
Here are some pictures from the workshop.
Patro listens to one of the participants asking questions about beekeeping.
Our host Doña Yema cooking lunch over the fire in her kitchen.
Patro explaining how to use the smoker properly, what kind of wood to use and how to know if the smoke is the right temperature.
The smoker in action.
We went to do some hands-on work with Don Rafael’s hives at his house.
A group picture of all the participants. The village has four groups and these people will go back to their groups and help them with all the knowledge and skills they gained.