Tag Archives: Pollinator program

November 2013: Empowering women

4 Dec

After the deluge we witnessed in October, the sun gods have smiled upon our serene valley. Remember our ladies from Santhari featured on ApiAnon last month? In a month, they had 3 established colonies in this village!

We’re delighted to announce that we hosted our first visitor for the Pollinator programme. Anjali is an organic farmer and co-founder of  my choices  where she works in women empowerment and strengthening the girl child. She is native from Andhra Pradesh and volunteerly came to meet and discuss with the women partners to speak about organic farming and women empowerment. It was great to have her for a few days.

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We organised meetings in 2 villages, one is Santhari with our strong women and the other one is called Merkachinta, a village where all our partners are between 16 to 21 years old. In this village we have now 3 colonies. And they made their own bee garden.

We also started a bee garden in our Central nursery.  A bee garden is a flower-rich habitat, a place where bees are free to forage and pollinate. Providing an abundance of nectar and pollen and creating special bee shelters, we hope to create a safe haven for honey bees and all pollinators in the region. The garden is also serving as an outreach tool for advising farmers, beekeepers, visitors and others on the importance of pollinators and on planning their own garden that will encourage bee and other flower visitors.

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We are welcoming a new village and 5 new partners who joined the program. Kotagumam is one of the remote village where they have already caught a colony. When we monitored the colony, the first thing we saw was the beautiful Queen. Can you see her ?

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September 2013: Education takes the Araku Pollinator Program forward

23 Sep

This month we received an educational kit from Bee for development to help us train and empower  the tribal women of the Pollinator Program. Thanks to the visual cards provided we can now help our beneficiaries understand the program easily and also organize and structure our meetings in a better.

karakaput meetin 30/08

We experimented with the educational kit in a village called Karaput. The first meeting was about the awareness on honey bees primary role. The group of 12 women gave different answers – “bees make honey which is medicinal”,” they sit on flowers and drink the juice”, but they didn’t really seem to know why bees did this. The visual cues assisted us in explaining the the role of honey bees as pollinators. At the end of the session, all the women insisted on doing a group picture with me to commemorate our first meeting!

Karakaput Members

We are also preparing for swarming season which will occur when the monsoon comes to an end and the flowers of the forest trees will begin blooming. We have started building bait hives which will hopefully attract a swarm. We’ve put some drops of lemon grass oil in all our empty hives in an attempt to attract swarms.

In the nearby village of Kodaput, we took the time to speak to elders from the community. They told us of how in these 2 last decades the lush-green forest around them has slowly disappeared. Back in the day, you couldn’t walk 2 meters without stumbling upon a beehive, the village had 6 households (they now have around 30). Trees and wild flowers were there all yearlong, to cross rivers they used the tree’s branches, It’s hard to believe that all this was just 15-20 years ago! I was really touch by their words and they helped me reinforce the need for the pollinator program in light of disappearing bee populations

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At current, it is not easy to work and travel in this region. Since the beginning of the month, region has been paralyzed by daily strikes and bandhs over the division of the state of Andhra Pradesh. Roads are blocked, public transport options are sparse and power cuts have increased due to the weekly strike of the electricity department. Due to this our work is disturbed on a daily basis and its difficult for us to reach our weekly targets. We’ve been forced to take smaller steps.

February 2013: Meet our actual Queen Bees

8 Mar

After two fruitful weeks spent in the field, I am back to update you guys on the pollinator program. On the event of International Women’s Day I’m proud to say we’ve received a great response from the maidens of Araku, both young and old. At the moment we are expanding the program to 4 villages. These 2 last weeks, we focused on community mobilisation, which is crucial for a successful program.

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New Beneficiaries

Our pollinator program team went to these 4 villages to introduce the program. Interested persons came forward. For example, in Kodaput village, 12 women joined our beekeeper family.  We’ve seen women across ages, mothers, sisters and even grand mothers enthusiastic to join us. I must admit, even I was taken aback at seeing a dozen ladies united in their interest for apiculture.
Encouraging women is a priority in this program and it is such a joy to see so many women coming forward. I can’t seem to say this enough but beekeeping is the perfect activity for these tribeswomen. We do our best to place the hives near their house, ensuring that it does not become too time-consuming an activity whilst ensuring safety as it is in the vicinity of their own village.

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Tene Tigalu project

A science fair was organised by Naandi foundation in some schools of the region. I assisted a group of Nanhi Kalis in preparing their project. And the subject was Tene Tigalu meaning honey bees. The three girls were really eager to learn. They learnt about natural beekeeping. On the day of the science fair they explained to visitors the importance of honeybees as pollinators and why we should respect them. They won third place at the fair.

First natural division

21 Feb 2013Our first established colony is ready for its first natural division. In the last picture you can clearly see the queen cell (Bottom Left).  In a matter of a few days the old queen will swarm with about half of the workers of the colony and leave the new queen to reign supreme in her colony. Swarming is the natural way of reproduction of honey bee colonies.

For the more trained eye, it’s a full frame, this hive was ordered from outside. We are now making it locally using top bars.