At dusk in a southern region of Senegal, West Africa, three men don winter coats, rubber boots and pull on canvas sweatshirt with attached veil and put on rubber gloves tying strips of old fabric around the cuffs to secure the openings to make sure none of the tiny, but deadly creatures we plan to rob invade the makeshift suit.
We are going to collect honey in mangrove forest just beside the small village of Sangako at night from African bees. Also known as killer bees. The three men have been doing this for years, their wisdom precedes their age and they understand the risk they take for the liquid gold they hope to find. Continue reading “Jerejef Arame, Jerejef Allah”
Isn’t that a mouthful?! And is what I’ve been doing for the last 3 months specifically for Grenada. I’ve been gathering for most of the year, finding little gems (like actual island specific plant books-which are very hard to come by on the island due to all the libraries being closed after hurricane Ivan due to damage and $$). And talking to many beekeepers to get their knowledge on paper. I’m sure I’ll still miss a few plants but this is a good start.
While doing parts of a very tedious, monotonous job I listen to podcasts. One specifically (Min 16) with Derek Sivers, reminds us to “document the process” not only for ourselves but for others to be see how the “how the sausage gets made”
So without a due…here’s what I’ve done to create a bee fodder plant list in Grenada:
My time in Senegal I was able to stumble upon Plants for Arid Lands which happened to have a list of Bees and Honey in the Exploitation of Arid Land Resources, written by of course well known honey bee researcher Eva Crane.
Also the Senegal Peace Corps Agroforesty Manual also had a list of trees listed as bee fodder, not all of them are “true” but also no one could tell me where the information had come from even though the author was still on staff. And Trees and Shrubs of the Sahel is a awesome book for the West Africa region in general.
Trees and Shrubs of the Sahel, luckily the copy I found was in English not French
So between these two lists I combined them and started adding the local names I knew in Wolof, the local language I had learned and worked in. Senegal has 36 languages (per Wikipedia) but Peace Corps Senegal trains volunteers in one of 9 languages (Wolof, Sereer, Mandinka, Malinke/Jaxanke Fulakunda, Pular, Pulla Fuuta, Pular du Nord,French, Bambara)
Senegal Honey Bee Fodder List
This list is currently 171 species using only 4 references (see below). Luckily I had great agriculture volunteers with wonderful language ability to help fill in some of the names as much as they knew. Sadly though this list has never been used for more than personal use. The idea was to create a simple identification booklet for beekeepers to learn terms and identify plants. Similar to this below
Booklet from Mali to teach French vocabulary to beekeepers
Crane, E. (1985). Plants for Arid Lands. In Bees and Honey in the Exploitation of Arid Land Resources. International Bee Research Association.
Sidibe, D., Djitte, C., Constant, A., & Blass, C. (2012). Peace Corps Senegal Agroforestry Manual (Second.). Theis, Senegal: Peace Corps.
Traucht, M. (2009). Working with Bees in The Gambia. The Gambia.
Von Maydell, H.-J. J. (1990). Trees and Shrubs of the Sahel. Weikersheim: Margraf.
After I came home November of 2014 after my Peace Corps service was finished I kept looking for honey bee fodder lists. Not all lists would be pertinent as there are multiple breeds of honey bees and they are location specific. For example, African bees that were in Senegal, can not survive in my native Minnesota due to the cold, but also African bees are 10% smaller than Apis mellifera we have in northern climates, therefore some of the plant fodder might be different too.
Apis distribution map via Apimonda (@apimondiabees)
twitter September 17, 2015
So each list needs to be looked at from a location and Apis breed to see if a world bee fodder list can be made, which from what I can find has not been made, documented, updated, or put online. Which with all the technology we have there are many applications for this information.
Currently I have 49 literature reference sources for nectar, honey dew, pollen and propalis sources that I have started a new list specifically for Apis mellifera (honey bee) with around 2800 plants. Now what to do with the list.
Spring of 2015 I traveled to Grenada to work with beekeepers and kept my eyes open for any references specific to Grenada/Caribbean that I could find on bee fodder as well as what the beekeepers could tell me of plants. Many names are in local common names, not Latin/scienctific names. Also what do I do with all this data which is plant nomenclature, which changes over time. So my list might have duplicates due to name changes from having references sources from 1945 to present day.
Again I was luckily to stumble upon Entomological Society of America‘s 2015 conference that did a wonderful job of putting all of the sessions online. At the beginning of the conference Entomological Collections Network presented for the first day. The stress was putting your data sets online so they can be found, used and added by others. I contacted a presenter for more information, but since it was entomology not plant based it only pushed me to do more research.
Encyclopedia of Life website screenshot
Somehow I had a link from Encyclopedia of Life, I believe was from a conversation from the Bee College from May of 2015 when it was mentioned. Luckily I looked around and figured out that the website not only has common names in multiple languages the entire site is very easy to use with information pulled from various sites, integrating information.
Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is very handy to make ever changing plant lists in and also check the most correct name. Currently I’m almost through the 2800 plants I have in my list with updating the taxonomy. Next I’ll cross reference my list with the 4 books I have been able to find on the island with Grenada flora to see how many actual bee plants are here.
What I would do without books but these specifically have been wonderful!
Once I have my short list of plants, I’ll design a small pamphlet to be used by beekeepers, farmers, and other interested people to identify bee plants but also to encourage preservation, conservation and plant more of them through out the island.
Working anyplace new is intimidating, interesting, integrating and always makes for good story. Grenada is no different. The island life is a good one, relaxed, always close to a beach and a drink of choice. That is unless you have work to do. Beach and drinks aren’t much of a distraction, ‘liming’ or hanging out happens all the time so there isn’t a prescribed time to do so, so it happens all the time. Making those who do it all the time looked down upon by those who don’t and ‘work’ (which I’ll discuss later)
Reflecting sun on Grand Anse beach in St. George’s
People here on the island are great. If you walk by and don’t want to be bothered they inherently know it and will leave you alone, most of the time. If you greet people as you walk by, as you should in most countries I have lived, they will greet you back politely, sometimes even ask ‘how is your day?’ If someone calls to you here, and it’s other than your name or a proper title. Proper being Miss, Mam, Lady, etc versus improper; babe, baby, honey, sexy. You can simply raise your hand, open palm at them to acknowledge their presence and they will stop. Most of the time. This simple acknowledgement is quite amazing, like a secret power that you may not notice unless someone tells you it and then you see how it works.
Same happens in the public transport, which are passenger vans that hold typically 18 people but can squeeze in 22. This sounds awful, but the most time spent in a bus is maybe an hour, with windows open (no spirits to make you sick here thankfully) and on curvy roads with slick seats the cramming of people make it impossible to move actually making the ride MORE comfortable. I found the same in Senegal, when wedged between two people you can sleep, relax and forget where you are.
Buses and traffic on Market Hill road in St. George’s
Conversation is optional again on the bus. You should greet the bus upon getting in and typically if you talk about anything else people may ask you more questions or converse depending their mood or personality. When you put in to the exchange they give back, but if you don’t neither will they. It’s quite interesting.
Blurry view of the fish market in Grenville
Work culture is even more complex. There are good jobs and not good jobs, there is also almost 50% unemployment, so you would think any job is a good job. Not the case. There seems to be a feeling of entitlement that people need a ‘good’ job, if they are capable of the job. Agriculture makes up most of the economy and you see plenty of vegetables, crops and fruits in the market, and I see farmers and know many of them for my work, but the labor force doesn’t seem to be proportional.
In Senegal, being subsistence farmer, everyone, man, women, children worked the land. In Grenada, you would think that this would be the easier work to have with the largest payout but yet people have a small garden or plot, but I hardly see it as an ‘everyone’ can do this approach. I hate to think what Grenada will be like if this continues as the people I do see working the land are older (40+).
I find the island to be very tolerating of other people, their ideas, religions, and customs. There are probably at least 8 religions on the island even though it’s predominately catholic. I’ve also heard of many other Caribbean people on the island along with Indians, Syrians, Germans, Brits, Belgians, and of course Americans. There are mixing of these groups at various times, but there are definitely segmentation of each group as well in the larger culture.
I very much enjoy this place, people and atmosphere, but there are definite underlying inter-personal and larger political issues at play here that makes this place difficult to get much done. I know I say this after posting what I have been able to do after 6-months, but I can easily see more that could be done or accomplished in the same amount of time if a few more things were in place.
“Some people hate change. They don’t hate you. If you get confused
about that, it’s going to be difficult to make (needed, positive,
important) change in the future.”
Seth Godin Blog November 4,
Futurist Cecily Sommers writes “[t]he four forces of change are resources, technology, demographic and governance.” in Think Like a Futurist.
Sommers, C. (2012). Think Like a Futurist: Know What Changes, What Doesn’t, and What’s Next. San Francisco, CA: Wiley.
Monthly reports are part of most Response volunteer’s life. Luckily I do not have to do the Peace Corps reporting that is now computerized matrix to input numbers based on objectives. Lots of monitoring and reporting. It’s great to understand whats going on, but it’s really difficult to understand what is really happening on the ground through those numbers. I understand needing the quantifying of our very undefinable jobs as Peace Corps volunteers. Here on Grenada, the 27-month volunteers have very specific roles as Teaching Assistants for primary schools for reading development skills.
In the Peace Corps St. Lucia office
The other Response volunteers work with children with learning and behavior challenges at a school and children’s home, respectfully, another at the national museum and me with the beekeeping association on the island.
As nice as it is having a defined job description, what is the likelihood you do any or all of them when you get to a developing country? It’s depends upon the expectations of the organization and their resources frankly. As most Response positions on the island, expectations were high and what we would be able to accomplish and semi-unrealistic. It’s hard to get someone to come down from a cloud. Even worse when they are unwilling to see what’s on the ground to work with or lend a hand.
The front of the Sub office where my office is
This an edited summary report that I’ve submitted to my partnering association, Peace Corps, and other partners I have on the island. There are sections for my recommendations to the partner organization and Peace Corps/Response as well a list of my major collaborators that I have left off but very valuable to document and share. Also I have added pictures where possible to help illustrate 🙂
History of Partnering
Formed in 1998, Grenada Beekeeping Association (GAB) was
formed from fourteen young persons that took a 2-week beekeeping course
organized by Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).
Initial funding came from Agency for Rural Transformation (ART) and the
National Development Foundation (NDF). Until 2009, the Ministry of Agriculture
(MoA) also provided subvention and a technical officer from the Veterinary and
Livestock Division of the MoA had been assigned full time to assist GAB
members. Their office at the Ministry of
Agriculture Extension office in Grenville.
“Over the period 2002 to 2008, the
number of registered beekeepers increased from twenty-seven to fifty-seven; the
number of hives in use increased from 810 to 1710 units; and honey production
increased from 13,324lb to 28,129lb. (These figures can be verified from
official statistics.) Present estimates indicate that the number of hives has
dropped to 1400, but the yield per colony has increased because of better
beekeeping practices. This is mainly due to the efforts of GAB to improve the
ability of beekeepers and to have beekeeping equipment and materials available
at most times, and at reasonable costs to beekeepers.”
Previously the association had been a co-host to the
Caribbean Beekeeping Congress (2011), participated in World Food Day Celebrations
(2009) and the week of Agriculture (2010) along with producing a GAB news
bulletin (2009) but has not been sustained. In the past the Association ordered
wood goods (hive & hive products) and equipment in mass, stored it in a
container and sold it to beekeepers as needed. A small profit was made from
resale of honey and goods. On April 1, 2011 became a registered incorporated
Currently and for the past 5 years GAB has faced many
challenges. First the lack of subvention from the Ministry of Agriculture and
the increase of tariffs on imports has made purchasing a bulk order of goods
nearly impossible. In this time many beekeepers have started to import goods
themselves (typically from Trinidad) or make them on the island.
Since 2010, there has been a change of policy on the import
of ‘breeder queens’ from outside of the island. This is still a challenge that
is a topic of conversation between GAB and MoA presently and as of October 2015
200+ queens have been purchased and brought in via GAB and MoA and purchased by
beekeepers on the island.
Peace Corps was contacted and the Association requested a
response volunteer to help specifically to develop the beekeeping industry in
Grenada and expand membership to maximize potential. Specifically by identifying
good genetic material, training 20 in an intro to beekeeping course, train 10
trainers in advance queen-rearing for Trainer of Trainer model, produce 500
queens for local beekeepers and region, develop a queen rearing manual specific
Ministry of Agriculture, F.
and F. (2015). 2010-2011 Annual Agriculture Review Grenada W.I. St.
George’s Grenada: Ministry of Agriculture.
Grenada Association of Beekeepers logo
Focus of work
With financial and political challenges and lack of
resources faced by the association the volunteer has identified these potential
short term goals:
Collaborate with beekeepers on
best practices, challenges, solutions, goals and gaining feedback throughout
Creating ongoing training
programming for beekeepers, public and partnering shareholders’ staff
Identifying good genetic stock for
queen rearing to increase honey production and training of trainers to do so as
Assist in increasing overall
knowledge of bees, nectar, propolis and pollen sources
Assist in developing beekeeping
industry in Grenada and assist in increasing public knowledge of the industry.
From the time I have arrived on island April 16, 1st
day of work was April 20th until October 31st (6 months
of service) I have accomplished:
Met personally with 43
beekeepers/interested people in beekeeping21 of those visited their
15 of the visited apiaries we
worked the bees that day
Met 12 extension officers,
ministry officials, St. George University contacts, other individuals that work in the
Met the Grenada Association of Beekeepers
Executive Board along with the Chief Veterinary Officer for the
Ministry of Agriculture
Followed up with Ministry of Agriculture Chief Veterinary Office (via email) specifically for filling out paperwork on Grenada
clearance for honey to be accepted into the U.K. for beekeepers to enter
London Honey Show October 29-31st 2015.
Had check-in meeting
with Peace Corps Associate Country Program Director, current and previous Grenada Association of Beekeepers’ President to put 2 months of planning in
Met with Peace Corps Associate Country Program Director, 2 Executive Board members and previous Association President to discuss and clarify overall plan
with Response volunteer as it pertains to training. Volunteer is to take
the lead and consult with Association as needed.
Group of attendees of the Queen Rearing Course at St. George’s University at the Bee College
Attended the 4 day St.
George’s University Bee College in St. George’s
Attended GAB membership
meetings (3 total) and The Goat Dairy board meeting &
Discussed, researched and
wrote Response Counterpart Workshop proposal with assistance of my Associate Country Program Director fellow Response volunteers and 27-month volunteer
The Goat Dairy Project at Belmont Estate
Training and Courses:
Met, followed up and wrote
proposal with 4-H Extension liaison for St. Andrew’s, on
term-long project for 12-16 year olds on pollinators, habitat and
conservation Emailed Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture
(IICA) and National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) or Caribbean
Vocational Qualifications (CVQ) certification about current and past
trainings held in regard to beekeeping (none as of lately nor in the near
Followed up on status of
reply from T.A. Marryshow Community College on access to Mirabeau farm
school and course syllabus for Apiculture they teach
syllabus with 10 courses that I thought would be beneficial to beekeepers
and potential beekeepers in Grenada and shared it with the membership
Followed up with past
teachers of beekeeping courses on the island
Drafted “Introduction to
Successful Beekeeping: What you need to get started” outline, wrote
PowerPoint with overview of GAB membership
Finalized power point
presentation and needed resources for Intro class, further reviewed and
added classes to overall syllabus for beekeeping classes
people that would be interested in the beekeeping class and make record of
their contact information. Collaborated to identify potential stakeholders
and community partners to communicate via posted letters in the next week
or two about the details on the classes being held
Met and planned additional
meetings, trainings and brainstormed agenda with the
Ministry of Agriculture Extension Agent for Beekeeping; presented
Introduction to Beekeeping course and additional course syllabus to
Met with Ministry of Agriculture Extension Agent for Beekeeping and Chief Veterinary Officer to discuss ideas planned for moving forward with
trainings. Letter was drafted and sent to Principal at T.A.
Marryshow Community College for access and use of Mirabeau Farm School
Set time, dates and place
for Introduction to Beekeeping class, sent letters to potential
stakeholders and community partners about details of class with assistance
of Ministry of Agricultural Extension Agent and Office in Grenville.
Flyer for ‘Introduction to Successful Beekeeping: Getting Started in Beekeeping”
Contacted 20 interested
people that expressed interest in the beekeeping class via phone, email
and in persn
Emailed or whatapps’ed
another 20 partnering individuals, 16 Peace Corps volunteers & staff,
16 NGO’s and partnering institutions, 25 attendees of the Bee College to
alert and invite them to the class.
Taught class to 7 people
and have another 14 signed up for another class held in October for total
of 21 for 2 classes.
Flyer for “Pest, Disease and Pest Management: Identification and Understanding”
Planned 2nd class
on Pest, Disease and Pest Management with Beekeeping Extension Agent and
SGU Lab Researcher to be held in October
Taught Pest, Disease and
Pest Management class to 3 beekeepers, hope to offer this again in late
November and late January.
Additional Community Partners:
Attended GRENED meeting to
better understand community need and how organization assists youths in
Partnered with Belmont
Estate to create simple business and action plan for bees to be
established on the estate, including training of trainer for estate to
also train staff on better understanding and best practices (ongoing 2 pg
word document emailed)
Attended Saint Andrews
Development Organization (SADO) planning meeting for Rainbow City event in
Grenville happening before Carnival to assist beekeepers in preparing for
Met with Grand Bras Farms
to discuss pollination benefits to the farm and best practices having bees
on the property
Grand Bras Farm, a historic estate that is now being used for short crop and vegetable production
Research, Networking and Organizing
Drafted project plan for
self-started projects, events, and notable dates
Continued researching and
compiling world honey, pollen, and propolis plant sources to create
Caribbean and Grenada specific plant lists
Wrote, applied and my abstract was accepted
for Apimondia, an international beekeeping
conference being held in Seoul, Korea September 15-20, 2015
Networked with many people
on the island along with inquiring about resources on the island for
beekeepers and the association
for Rest of Service
Plan and draft “Nectar,
Pollen and Propolis Plant Sources’ outline, write PowerPoint, layout and
create plant identification manual for Grenada specific plants
(PowerPoint, list of resources, images and people; small ¼ page booklet
identification manual on plants) Tentatively set for late January and
start mentioning it to potential attendees mid-late December
Offer ‘Intro to Successful
Beekeeping’ and ‘Pest, Disease and Integrated Pest Management’ courses on
ad-hoc basis in January-March.
Plan and draft “Beekeeping
Basics:1st year of Beekeeping in Grenada’ outline, write
PowerPoint, layout and source apiary for hands on examples for class
(PowerPoint, list of resources, images and people; apiary; protective gear
for attendees) Tentatively set for February and start mentioning it to
potential attendees January
Plan and draft “Bee and
Hive Anatomy’ outline, write PowerPoint, source needed items for bee
dissection-pinning boards, microscopes, tweezers (PowerPoint, list of
resources, images and people; apiary; protective gear for attendees)
Tentatively set for March and start mentioning it to potential attendees
Continue attending GAB
membership meetings as needed; following up and assisting beekeepers with
questions and work alongside with them when possible in their apiaries.
with GAB membership, Grenada MoA & extension officers, beekeepers and
interested people, partnering organizations who have shown interest in
beekeeping (i.e. 4-H, Belmont Estate, Grand Bras) and any others who ask
assistance of information.
Continue to network and
research potential contacts on and outside of Grenada for information,
best practices and further information on techniques, plants, and
Continue to offer support,
solicit feedback and constructive criticism from work partners, class
attendees and Peace Corps staff and volunteers.